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Nightfall


My mother was good looking and once
presented a trophy to winning rowers
on the St. Charles.

Dalton China complexion, single strand
of pearls given by a deep sea diver;
Borsalino slouch hat for fun; her pleasure
in kissing games; the unfinished romance
novel she was writing.

She taught me makeup, hair coloring,
how to promise without delivering.

Ramp of a Catalina sea plane, red car
with no top; her lips just slightly
parted, ocean breeze ruffling the bangs
shimmering on her forehead.

Twenty years, I still see her sunburned
torso in a one-piece swim suit poised
at the edge of expanding nightfall.

The silver revolver on her nightstand.


Last edited by Bernie01, Apr/10/2013, 3:09 am


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Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Mar/23/2013, 8:19 pm Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Nightfall


Hey Bernie,

Taking on a female N--good for you. I know you tweak this type of poem until you get it right, so I'll just give you a few first thoughts:

Drop "than me" in the first line. The who will become evident later on, and without the qualification at the beginning, there is a little mystery.

Maybe sharpen some of a the images? For example, what type of novel was she writing? What kind of fruit was on the sea breeze?

"flanks" is the one word in the poem that gave me pause. It doesn't feel right to me. Maybe just because I can't imagine describing my own mother's body that way.

I like the way the last line in S4 ties back to the title. Strong ending image that opens up a lot of possibilities in this reader's mind.

HTH,
Kat

PS I left you a message on facebook.

Last edited by Katlin, Mar/25/2013, 11:51 am
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Bernie01 Profile
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Re: Nightfall


K---

great suggestions and i have attempted to implement them all.

for whatever it is worth, i was thinking of the I. Asimov short story in which the citizens of a planet have only experienced daylight and are now terrified by nightfall;

the penduum swings as in most of our lives.

the story is entilted, Nightfall.

also, i have always been deeply disturbed and puzzled by a comment in Plath's letters---perhaps only a joke---but she invites her mother to commit suicide with her. long before England and all of that sad final ending with Ted Hughes.

Plath to her mother:


quote:

"Then the worst happened, that big, dark, hunky boy, the only one there huge enough for me, who had been hunching around over women, and whose name I had asked the minute I had come into the room, but no one told me, came over and was looking hard in my eyes and it was Ted Hughes."

"…and I was stamping and he was stamping on the floor, and then he kissed me bang smash on the mouth and ripped my hairband off, my lovely red hairband scarf which has weathered the sun and much love, and whose like I shall never again find, and my favorite silver earrings: hah, I shall keep, he barked. And when he kissed my neck I bit him long and hard on the cheek, and when we came out of the room, blood was running down his face."



Sylvia Plath's grave at Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, near Ted Hughes' birthplace. The name on the headstone is Sylvia Plath Hughes.

The epitaph:

'Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted'

i admit, that when a magazine at Cambridge picked up four of my poems for a June publication, i was not thinking of my hero, henry james (who relinquised his US citizenship in favor of england and never married) or even t.s. eliot---with his emotionally unstable first wife, but ted hughes and sylvia plath.
    



thanks again.

bernie



     




Last edited by Bernie01, Mar/25/2013, 4:22 pm


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Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Mar/25/2013, 3:06 pm Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Nightfall


Bernie,

The ending was quite unexpected, even though the fact that the revolver was silver stayed in character with the poem. Many of your poems have these touches -- Dalton China, Borsalino, etc. -- that might be related to money (I don't know, as I lean in another direction most of the time, though not always). Yet, you do a good job with the materials you use. This is actually a very good poem, IMO. But I'm trying to figure out what the poem is trying to tell me? Is it simply a snapshot, a distillation of a life (as perceived by the daughter), or is it a complaint? Does the daughter see her mother as a sort of romantic figure, always stepping off a Catalina sea plane, or is there a sliver of complaint that the mother was somehow THAT distant from her daughter? It's at least got me speculating about this. Zak

quote:

Bernie01 wrote:

My mother was good looking and once
presented a trophy to winning rowers
on the St. Charles.

Dalton China complexion, single strand
of pearls given by a deep sea diver;
Borsalino slouch hat for fun; her pleasure
in kissing games; the unfinished romance
novel she was writing.

I was her only daughter and to me
she was always stepping off a Catalina
sea plane or about to board; sea breeze
in her hair, a hint of palm and lemon.

Twenty years, but I still see her sunburnt
torso in a two-piece swim suit poised
at the edge of expanding nightfall.

The silver revolver on her nightstand.



Mar/25/2013, 3:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Bernie01 Profile
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Re: Nightfall


Z---

excellent summary of the competing images, impressions and emotions of the narrator:

a snapshot, a distillation of a life (as perceived by the daughter),

or is it a complaint? Does the daughter see her mother as a sort of romantic figure, always stepping off a Catalina sea plane,

or

is there a sliver of complaint that the mother was somehow THAT distant from her daughter?



you finished by adding:

It's at least got me speculating about this.

this is not about Sylvia Plath, yet others have made that comparison.

my poems are like background music in a movie, a good movie, a good piece of music i can only hope.

the idea is to open the reader to a meditative state that is at once calming and yet edged with a disturbing thought that the poem's "music" is a theme in our own lives.

rage
conflict
humor
ambiguity
forgiveness
misunderstanding
transfiguration


just to name of few.

i am facing a liver transplant, a two-year battle at this point---yet despite the long odds i have never thought of suicide, but how can i read about Plath, or Sexton (who was so unbelievably kind when i was lost after viet nam) or hemingway or any dozen other favorites writers of mine---how can i not feel the wisp of their words, their apparitions on the stairs late at night, kathleen asleep, the house still as the grave...

i would hope to be an apparition on the stairs, good or bad, a lobby, a vote, an inducement, an encouragement for sanity, humor and commitment to those close to us and to our work.

pachelbel's Canon---maybe by george winston:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5OTH3mj2Q8

boy, would i love to move closer to that stillness, that affirmative referendum on life, peace and love for ourselves, our work and those close to us, those less close but like us in so many ways, despite color, language and geography.


as for money---

Andrew Wilson's biography of early Plath life events and poetry reviewed in the Australian magazine---the Arts:

Considering the causes of her 1953 breakdown, he examines a society where sex, power and money combined to pressure and thwart a libidinous and impecunious young woman of great ambition. In particular, he argues that "the constraints and repressions surrounding [sex]" were central to her creative development.

American biographer and scholar Phyllis Rose has written of a history of "partial biographies" of women, curtailed by prudery and convention. Wilson's is far from partial in this sense, including as it does a detailed account of Plath's sexual history and menstrual cramps, alongside sinusitis, salmonella and schadenfreude.


bernie

Last edited by Bernie01, Mar/25/2013, 7:41 pm


---
Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Mar/25/2013, 6:13 pm Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Nightfall


When you mentioned Plath, I immediately thought of that picture of her, young and blonde and wearing a two-piece swimsuit. I'm fascinated to learn what is on her headstone.

While reading the poem, I imagined the mother as a movie star perhaps, someone who would have been away from home a lot and photographed often. In some ways it feels as if the N is viewing the mother through the lens of a camera. I think that is where the distant feeling Zak mentioned comes from. He even used the word "snapshot".

“Kiss me and you will see
how important I am.”
- Sylvia Plath

PS I have sent you a PM, too, in case fb isn't good for you. Will try email as well. Trying to get in touch with you regarding IBPC.
Mar/25/2013, 6:55 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Bernie01 Profile
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Re: Nightfall


K---

yes, yes. that photo. looked at it many times. i first said two-piece but decided to push this just a little further back in time, and now say one-piece swim suit.


distance in a poem. let me quote our IBPC judge again commenting on altoona, a recent winner---she noticed a hopperesque quality that emerged from the portrait described by the poet.

is that distance necessary---i just mentioned pachelbel's Canon---maybe by george winston:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5OTH3mj2Q8

to Zak--no. Tom Jones and much of Joyce, but that quality emerges in fitzgerald---say Gatsby.


you were interested in the headstone---now and then, i'm told, ted hughes haters attempt to scratch his name away, but it was clear when i visited.

From 16th century Chinese poet Wu Ch’Eng-En."

Here, I believe, the poem from in which the lines emerge:

The Patriarch Subodhi then recited:
To spare and tend the vital powers, this and nothing else
Is sum and total of all magic, secret and profane.
All is comprised in these three, Spirit, Breath and Soul;
Guard them closely, screen them well; let there be no leak.
Store them within the frame.
That is all that can be learnt, and all that can be taught.
I would have you mark the tortoise and the snake locked in tight embrace.
Locked in tight embrace, the vital powers are strong;
Even in the midst of fierce flames the Golden Lotus may be planted,
The Five Elements compounded and transposed, and put to new use.
When that is done, be which you please, Buddha or Immortal."

thanks for your insight.

i sent you a reply. it happily accepted the nomination. the version posted here as Revision #1 is my final. double spacing or single is also fine, what do you think?


bernie


henrie9999@aol.com


   



   


Last edited by Bernie01, Mar/25/2013, 7:49 pm


---
Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Mar/25/2013, 7:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Nightfall


Bernie,

"to Zak--no. Tom Jones and much of Joyce, but that quality emerges in fitzgerald---say Gatsby." What????????????????

Also, notice in the chinese poem:
"I would have you mark the tortoise and the snake locked in tight embrace.
Locked in tight embrace, the vital powers are strong;" that "locked in tight embrace" is repeated. That is one of the reasons I doubt some analysts on certain online poetry sites; minimalism is taken to ridiculous lengths when they cross out any repetition.

Zak
 
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Bernie01 Profile
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Re: Nightfall


hi Zak---


distance in a poem. let me quote our IBPC judge again commenting on altoona, a recent winner---she noticed a hopperesque quality that emerged from the portrait described by the poet.

is that distance necessary---i just mentioned pachelbel's Canon---maybe by george winston:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5OTH3mj2Q8

to Zak--no. Tom Jones and much of Joyce, but that quality emerges in fitzgerald---say Gatsby.


i was commenting on the need or lack of it for distance, for that Hopperesque quality---
and gave two examples where distance didn't matter, the novel Tom Jones and most of James Joyce. or Zola and other classic story tellers like that.

longway from a little distance in a poem to minimalism--just as George Winston's playing of the Canon is a long way from John Cage.

Ginsberg, best known for HOWL, but here a softer voice, but not minimalist:

1, Taxi ghosts at dusk pass Monoprix in Paris 20 years ago.


2. Put on my tie in a taxi, short of breath, rushing to meditate.

 
3. Tompkins Square Lower East Side N.Y.
Four skinheads stand in the streetlight rain chatting under an umbrella.


i try to use examples of what i mean, philosophy is fine, but so are examples.

here, a poem moving close to minimalism:

Fall

Bob Grenier

the leaves
falling
out of the
water by the
table



here a longer poem, but using the minimalist
philosophy. william carlos williams:

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines—

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind—

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined—
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted they
grip down and begin to awaken


A Forum of crit writers might suggest taking out two of those cold words.


and here the real, minimalist poem starts a fund drive---Black Mountain School:

I Know a Man
As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, -- John, I
SD, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what


From I Know a Man by Robert Creeley


bernie

 




Last edited by Bernie01, Mar/25/2013, 10:33 pm


---
Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Mar/25/2013, 9:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Nightfall


Interesting poem. A period piece of sorts, yes? Objects catalogued (of wealth?) the most active part of the poem. What I do respond to is how the subject, the daughter's mother, breezes through like a Joan Crawford, which I think is the intention. As for the narrator's gender, the only since I have of her sex is that she declares herself a daughter. Not sure how, but I should like to know as much without having to be explicitly told. Silver revolver a nice touch by the way. Gives the poem a bite.

Tere
Apr/6/2013, 10:27 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Bernie01 Profile
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Re: Nightfall


T---

to convey gender without a direct statement ---

i tried the mother offering a makeup lesson and a little brittle advice about boys.

seemed to run long.

will keep looking,

thanks for looking this one over.


bernie

---
Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Apr/6/2013, 12:35 pm Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 
queenfisher Profile
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Re: Nightfall


nice touch - that silver revolver!
an ooooomph poem!
Apr/10/2013, 1:59 am Link to this post Send Email to queenfisher   Send PM to queenfisher Blog
 
Bernie01 Profile
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Re: Nightfall


QF---

i hope the revolver is not seen as a gimmick.


thanks for looking over this california poem.


bernie

---
Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Apr/10/2013, 3:11 am Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 


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