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A Small Hotel in Jamaica


Revision #1

The scent of oleander airbrushed
against my wife’s coiled turban
of room towels;

black skin, dark earth root; eyes
half-closed under maroon eyelashes.

Our hotel is balanced on a steep
hillside in sight of the ocean,
water flows from an overturned jar
into the basin of an inlaid fountain.

The corridors and veranda fill nightly
with new scents; I imagine them
from ever-green clumps of grassy
leaves and cone-like fruits.

At certain hours a thin vapor
passes through the faded pink hotel
and we stammer once again in love
with our homeland;

later, bristling mango blends
with auto horns from the lower road;
a backdrop for the burgundy night air
of river boats with yellow running
lights slipping to the estuary
at Ocho Rios.

We are both home again to Jamaica;
the deep black of our hearts
masking our unfashionable hatred
of Europeans with white specks
in their blood, our hands and faces
scented with burned-out plantations
and glazed acres of sugarcane.











Original:

The scent of oleander is airbrushed
against my wife’s coiled turban
of room towels;

Luxurious black skin, dark earth root;
eyes half-closed under maroon eyelashes.

Our hotel is balanced on a wet crop
of steep hillside in sight of the ocean,
water flows from an overturned jar
into the basin of an inlaid fountain.
 
The corridors and veranda fill nightly
with new scents; I imagine them
from ever-green clumps of grassy
leaves and cone-like fruits.

At certain hours a thin vapor
I could not identify passes through
the faded pink hotel and we stammer
once again in love with our homeland;

later, a bristling cocoa mango blends
with auto horns from the lower road.

We sit on a thick chaise lounge,
both home again to Jamaica;
the deep black color of our hearts
masking two-centuries of revolt,
faces scented with burned-out
plantations and glazed acres
of sugarcane.















Last edited by 36064, Dec/18/2012, 8:11 am
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arkava Profile
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


quote:

36064 wrote:

The night oleander airbrushed against
my wife’s coiled turban of room towels
complementing her half-closed eyes
and luminous Black skin.

Our hotel balanced on a wet crop
of steep hillside in sight of the ocean,
far enough inland that the water
was no longer salt, but not yet fresh.

The corridors and veranda filled
nightly with the changing scent
of oleander and dianthus that I imagined
in ever-green clumps of grassy leaves
and cone-like fruits.

At certain hours a layer of black root
stock passed over the faded pink hotel;
that scent in turn replaced by a bristling
cocoa mango which blended into auto horns
sounding from the lower road.

We sat on a thick chaise lounge, both home
again to Jamaica; the deep black coloring
of our faces scented with burned-out
plantations and glazed acres of sugarcane.



i notice how there's a continuous overlay of that word--black. like you are invoking a geography, personalizing it and at the same time naturalizing your memories, filing them away in context. the descriptions are fresh, tender. so the wife's "coiled turban of room towels" gives passage to the hotel balanced on a wet crop. "both home again to jamaica" invoking history but at the same time not living there anymore. rooted in the landscape that follows you everywhere.

thanks for posting,
arka
Dec/13/2012, 5:37 am Link to this post Send Email to arkava   Send PM to arkava Blog
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


Bernie,

I wanted to strike a few things, but couldn't so I simply erased them. Does not mean they shouldn't be there, but I wanted them reworked or rearranged. I don't by any means consider what I left as a finished product, rather it is what I would begin with. Of course, you know your poem; I don't. I think this poem struggles between the luxuriating aspect and the recognition of the two hundred years of revolt (the stark aspects of that). It hasn't yet reconciled those two aspects. Zak

quote:

36064 wrote:

oleander airbrushed
against my wife’s coiled turban
of room towels;

black skin, dark earth root;
eyes half-closed under maroon eyelashes.

Our hotel is balanced
of steep hillside in sight of the ocean,
water flows from an overturned jar
into the basin of an inlaid fountain.
 
The corridors and veranda fill nightly
with new scents; I imagine them
from ever-green clumps of grassy
leaves and cone-like fruits.

At certain hours a thin vapor
passes through the faded pink hotel
and we stammer once again in love
with our homeland;

later, a bristling mango blends
with auto horns from the lower road.

Later both home again to Jamaica;
the deep black color of our hearts
masking two-centuries of revolt,
burned-out plantations and glazed acres
of sugarcane.
















Dec/15/2012, 6:38 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
36064 Profile
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


Z---

you placed your finger squarely on that portion of the poem that is most difficult for me: political statement.

a beautiful country put to an evil task---

and here we find two returning patriots---long after slave revolts, but deeply aware of that history.

have they destroyed? maybe. their hatred illicit because it is no longer fashionable.


mighty fine edit; faster, less bloated. i felt confident restoring the boats beating
to the estuary.

for the final raw statement of this couple in political terms, i thought of Rhys's rewrite
of Rebecca--- her novel The Wide Sargasso Sea.


her statements about racial antagonisms are not central to the novel, and yet they singe the page.

internet:

Antoinette's story circa early nineteenth-century Jamaica. The white daughter of ex-slave owners, she lives on a run-down plantation called Coulibri Estate; the finances of her father in ruins after passage of the Emancipation Act of 1833, which freed black slaves and led to the demise of many white slave owners.

Throughout Antoinette's childhood, hostility flares between the crumbling white aristocracy and the impoverished servants they employ.



but my poem is under the influence of Derek Walcott (Nobel winner 1992).

The Paris Review:

We talked at the table and chairs outside our cottages, where we could hear the wind in the coconut trees and the waves breaking on the shore. A compact man in his mid-fifties, Walcott was still dressed from his afternoon on the beach—barefoot, a pair of brown beach trunks and a thin cotton shirt. Often he kept a striped beach towel draped around his shoulders, a white flour-sack beach hat pushed forward jauntily on his head. He seemed always to be either smoking or about to start.



Derek Walcott:


"the sunlight of olive oil slowly spreads in saucers"….


Love After Love


by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door…

A City's Death By Fire

by Derek Walcott

After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar;
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales
Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why
Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails?
In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths;
To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath
Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails,
Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.


A Far Cry From Africa

by Derek Walcott

A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries:
"Waste no compassion on these separate dead!"
Statistics justify and scholars seize
The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed?
To savages, expendable as Jews?
Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break
In a white dust of ibises whose cries
Have wheeled since civilizations dawn
>From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read
As natural law, but upright man
Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars
Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum,
While he calls courage still that native dread
Of the white peace contracted by the dead.

Again brutish necessity wipes its hands
Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again
A waste of our compassion, as with Spain,
The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?
How can I turn from Africa and live?





 
 

thanks again.


bernie






 









Last edited by 36064, Dec/15/2012, 1:08 pm
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Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


I appreciate all the goodies, the historical and the poetry you serve us up on a dish. Derek Walcott is really some poet. Reminds me somehow of how John Donne brought the emotional and the scientific together in his poetry. Walcott seems to be able to bring the emotional and the historical together.

I'm glad I was able to help a little with your poem. Zak
Dec/16/2012, 7:21 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


Hi Bernie,

This is an ambitious poem. I have Walcott's Collected Poems, given to me as a Christmas gift some years ago, and I'm not surprised you have come under his influence. I like the revision. It's more subtle, I think, in its handling of the material.

I stumbled a bit on this line:
 
"the deep black color of our hearts"

Was wondering if you might drop "color" there?

My favorite section of the Walcott book is the one that contains "Love After Love."
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36064 Profile
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


Arkava---

"both home again to jamaica" invoking history but at the same time not living there anymore. rooted in the landscape that follows you everywhere.

i agree completely. gang kids here often initiate a fight by first asking another youth, "where are you from?"

turf, borders, city limits, boundaries so often based on the real or imagined differences of geography.

wonderful comment.


Z---

yes, walcott. so far ahead, so brave. i can only dream about showing a little of his dare and soul searching.

and john donne, how did you figure out i marvel at some of his lines?


K---

you bet, color is out; appreciate the endorsement for the revised poem.

yes, an ambitious poem; over my head, any political poem, but now and then i give it everything i have.


trembling.


thanks for your comment.



bernie

 
Dec/18/2012, 12:29 am Link to this post Send Email to 36064   Send PM to 36064 Blog
 
queenfisher Profile
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


bernie

much prefer the original!

coiled turban
of room towels;

is it! sets the mood!

congrats for the wonderful win!
Dec/18/2012, 4:11 am Link to this post Send Email to queenfisher   Send PM to queenfisher Blog
 
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


Good read, Bernie. Think I'll go with the revision. Mostly because it pays closer attention to both meter and line rhythm, this with the possible exception of S6. But I have to confess I'm not entirely convinced of the voice, perhaps a matter of authenticity. Scene is convincing enough with good use of incidental detail. But the kind of blood rage that gets passed down through generations is not.

Tere
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


Queenfisher---

here is a remix, original and Revision #1...

Revision #2:


Coiled turban of room towels;
coal tar eyes, maroon eyelashes.

Our hotel balanced above the ocean;
water flows from an overturned jar
into the basin of an inlaid fountain.

The corridors and veranda fill nightly
with scents from ever-green clumps
of grassy leaves and cone-like fruits.

A thin vapor wasps through the faded
pink hotel and we stammer; once again
in love with our homeland;

bristling mango blends with auto horns
from the lower road; a backdrop for
burgundy night air; boats with yellow
lights slip to the estuary at Ocho Rios.

We are both home again to Jamaica;
the deep black of our hearts
masking our unfashionable hatred
of Europeans, our hands and faces
scented with burned-out plantations
and glazed acres of sugarcane.




Tere---

maybe, maybe one day i can get a political poem closer to being right. for now, I agree. the voice here is not authentic.

in the remix i've dropped back a number of steps and focus now on the hotel, the couple.

thanks for your guiding comments. they are appreciated.

bernie






Last edited by Bernie01, Jan/16/2013, 11:58 pm


---
Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica


bernie

like the sound scent color of this piece - the controlled sensuality

just playing - for fun - take what you will or discard:

The scent of oleander airbrushed,
my wife’s coiled turban
of room towels;

dark earth root, eyes half-closed
under maroon eyelashes
water flows
 
from an overturned jar into the basin
of an inlaid fountain
balanced

on a steep hillside is our hotel
in sight of the ocean
new scents

fill nightly in the corridors
and veranda, I imagine them
from clumps

of grassy leaves and cone-like fruits.
At certain hours a thin vapor
passes through

the faded pink hotel and we stammer
once again in love with our
homeland;

bristling mango blends with auto horns
from the lower road;
a backdrop

for the burgundy night air of river boats
yellow running lights slipping
to the estuary at Ocho Rios.

the deep black of our hearts masking
our unfashionable hatred
of Europeans

with white specks on their blood
our hands and faces
scented

with burned out plantations
and glazed acres of
sugarcane

home again to Jamaica.










Last edited by queenfisher, Jan/16/2013, 4:01 am
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Bernie01 Profile
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Re: A Small Hotel in Jamaica



Queenfisher---

first, thanks for a serious revision---i know that takes both time and concentration.

let me work with the revision and see where i come out.

second, i'm glad that a sensuous overtone came through, the hotel, Jamaica itself, the scents---the couple; i'm glad you found the bundle of elements in the poem expressive and not just exploitive.

thanks again.


bernie

---
Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Jan/17/2013, 12:04 am Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 


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