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Careless Thinking (Been Down So Long etc.)


Revision #1:

Careless Thinking

They shot a naked man howling in a barricaded house.
Neighbors said he harmed no one and expertly clipped
his lawn into the night like an emergency room doctor
putting in stitches on graveyard shift.

I wish we talked first, found a loin cloth to blow free
in South Chicago like father Gandhi in New Delhi.

But I mind my own business, box a roast beef sandwich
at the senior lunch and spend the evening in my bathrobe,
my wasp thin computer overheated on my lap.

Letters to the Tribune, an ode to the TV sets
of my apartment complex never switched off and faithful
as a lighthouse, a letter to my dead wife, her face full
rupees, the stern look her eyes gave out and only sixteen
years old.

Summer tans me to the color of an Indian Sepoy.
I drink Bigelow teas while smoking Churchman No 1
cigarettes.

I am in the rag trade with other Indian Jews like myself,
my secondhand racks full of unwanted suits for men.
I observe Passover from a window of the 93 bus.

Oh naked man, howling man shot dead I mourn
your emerald passage and ask both India and Pakistan
to hold their fire for a single rotation of the moon.














Original:

They shot a naked man barricaded in a house.
Drive time coverage before the news truck
moved off to film a nine acre brush fire.

I mind my own business, spend the evening
in my bathrobe, the wasp thin computer
overheated on my lap.

The traffic gets worse each month. I threaten
other drivers, with what? The television sets
in my apartment building never rest.

Sandwich shops,
workout places
and package stores,

The Incas built Machu Pichu.
 
What happy ending did I expect?
Everything I own is dirty or broken.

When the last of my father's money is gone
I'll close my secondhand rack of suits
for men.

I’ll be on Channel 4, raving in the gun
site of a police 38, sweating like a zoo ape
with the highest ratings of my life.


*Richard Fariña.







Last edited by Bernie01, Sep/10/2013, 8:59 pm


---
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Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


Bernie,

Impressions: Good imagery, though scattered. Poem lacks your usual focus. Maybe this is because the protagonist himself is unfocused. I'm inclined to believe he's defeated by life, but another part feels like he's an incipient existentialist, or even nihilist. I'm reminded somewhat of Bukowski, but this protagonist isn't as tough. This protagonist appears to be more cerebral, though unfocused.

It seems like you've got three or four good poems here. Each one is trying to pull its way out of the bag. Thanks for posting. Not sure I helped; sometimes I miss. Zak

quote:

Bernie01 wrote:

They shot a naked man barricaded in a house.
Drive time coverage before the news truck
moved off to film a nine acre brush fire. [See I'm left wondering whether the protagonist has any "opinions" about the shooting of the naked man barricaded in his house. That the news truck moves on is something we know. This is a McNews world we live in, after all.]

I mind my own business, spend the evening
in my bathrobe, the wasp thin computer
overheated on my lap. [A man with no opinions, or an existentialist?]

The traffic gets worse each month. I threaten
other drivers, with what? The television sets
in my apartment building never rest. [I particularly like the second sentence. The first sentence is not on the same level.]

Sandwich shops,
workout places
and package stores,

The Incas built Machu Pichu. [The thought is a good one, but the poem is not constructed in a powerful, Machu Pichu style.]
 
What happy ending did I expect?
Everything I own is dirty or broken.

When the last of my father's money is gone
I'll close my secondhand rack of suits
for men.

I’ll be on Channel 4, raving in the gun
site of a police 38, sweating like a zoo ape
with the highest ratings of my life.


*Richard Fariña.








Aug/10/2013, 10:04 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


Zak---


crystal clear and a great guide to making this pom something i like much better than the original.

Bukowski---badly beaten by a psychopath father with the mother looking on dumb as old coins in a Sikh temple.

in some way, i identify him with this barricaded man.


thanks big time.

i owe you.


bernie




---
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Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


Bernie,

Normally, would wait at least a day to comment. However, my wife wanted to stay up late tonight, Saturday. She's watching a movie, and I'm listing to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and now "American in Paris." Rhapsody is especially good. 1924, and you can hear the New York traffic and pace. Not essential for this poem, but you know where I am.

Yes, much more focused now. I made a few additional observations. Feel free to discard them; as I only read your revision today, and have not had a chance to sleep on it. Zak


 Bernie01 wrote:

Revision #1:

They shot a naked man howling in a barricaded
house. Neighbors said he harmed no one
and expertly clipped his lawn into the night like
an emergency room doctor putting in stitches
on graveyard shift. "Neighbors said" links in to the observer's opinion. He wouldn't repeat it, otherwise. The howling reflects the protagonist's howling, or the narrator's. Ginsberg's "Howl."]

I wish we talked first, found him a toga. a loin cloth
to blow in the free wind of South Chicago like father
Gandhi in New Delhi. Fed him rude bakers
or a crushed Percocet, but I mind my own business,
box a roast beef sandwich at the senior lunch
and spend the evening in my bathrobe, wasp thin
computer overheated on my lap. [A little confusion as to whether he was American or Indian, but not a problem later. There is the sentence where I think the protagonist fed the dead man percocet, etc., but later it seems like he is talking about himself eating a sandwich and having the computer on his lap. Would it be possible to clarify or strengthen the sequence? Maybe it won't be a problem with the rest of the tribe.]

An ode to the TV sets of my apartment complex
never switched off and faithful as a lighthouse,
letters to the Tribune in the voice of Vishnu
who wraps me in his arms; I call to my dead wife,
face full of rupees, the stern look her eyes gave out
and only sixteen years old. [Here it is a very strong Indian presence IMO. This Indian aspect was only hinted at before. Would it be possible to make it a graduated thing, or to introduce it, to make it clear earlier? Maybe I'm way off base on this. See what Arka says, or queenfisher.]

I am clean as white diamonds but the summer tans
me to the color of an Indian Sepoy. I smell like
hollyhocks and drink Bigelow teas while smoking
Churchman No1 cigarettes from Liverpool. [Now a bit of confusion. If he is Indian, why say "color an an Indian Sepoy"? I like the detail of the cigarettes he smokes.]

I am in the rag trade with other Indian Jews
like myself, my secondhand racks full of unwanted
suits for men. I am faithless and observe Passover
from a window of the 93 bus into the Loop. [Here you are sort of educating us a bit, the comments of Indian Jews. Of course, there are Jews all over the world. A Mexican Jew was the dead hero of the 1910 Mexican Revolution. Assassinated martyr.]

Oh naked man, howling man shot dead I mourn
your passage and ask both India and Pakistan
to hold their fire for a single rotation of the moon. [I'm left feeling you are bringing this poem together. But it is still like an expanding delta. Rivulets everywhere. Who really is this man? What really is his ethnicity? Could it be hinted at more strongly earlier on? And what is his connection to India and Pakistan, what is his authority for him to ask them to hold their fire? The India-Pakistan is such a huge problem, and suddenly it is on our laps like that overheated computer he has on his lap.]











 




 

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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


thanks again---

maybe, regardless of how you hold Gone With the Wind at your house---

i take note of another anniversary---she was run down by a hit and run driver and without regaining real consciousness. she died five days later on 16 August, 1949.

one million dollars in four years. one novel, a Pulitzer winner.

no computers,

her research method---listening---fires me also.


bernie



 

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Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


Bernie,

I guess you need a day to digest my notes. Or maybe they were all bad this time. Either way, it's okay. As for "Gone With The Wind," I accept it was a great commercial success. I don't feel it's great literature. It's not "War and Peace" though it has that same external structure. You know, the sweep of history, and so forth. It's just my opinion. Dickens, I am told, was not considered a serious writer in his own time, or was he? Not 100% certain.

I had forgotten: I've tried working to music, but have never really gotten into it. Actually, this time I sort of knew what I wanted to say, had already listened to "Rhapsody in Blue" and "American in Paris" wasn't thrilling me in the same way. I'm glad other people can do it. Zak

quote:

Bernie01 wrote:

thanks again---

maybe, regardless of how you hold Gone With the Wind at your house---

i take note of another anniversary---she was run down by a hit and run driver and without regaining real consciousness. she died five days later on 16 August, 1949.

one million dollars in four years. one novel, a Pulitzer winner.

no computers,

her research method---listening---fires me also.


bernie



 





Last edited by Zakzzz5, Aug/11/2013, 8:27 am
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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


Zak---

i did my best to edit in your concerns.

i brought up Ms. Mitchel because it is a human tragedy---i suppose you know the current status of General Sharon---war leader and later the Prime Minister---resembles Eisenhower's career.

i have elsewhere posted a poem, 1929, a pom dealing with the era of your music last night.


the anniversary of a premature death.

thanks for your followup.


bernie

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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


dear bernie

i like the title - could be a song.

liked some images too:

expertly clipped his lawn into the night like
a graveyard shift doctor putting in stitches.

 wasp thin
computer overheated on my lap.

 the TV sets of my apartment
complex which never switch off and remain
faithful as a lighthouse,

however, some questions:

what is rich chowpatty? as far as i know it's neither a chapati nor a patty -
nor any kind of chow at all - chowpatty is the name of a beach in mumbai.

rutabagas? not common usage - a turnip?

couldn't quite understand: face full of rupees.

tan like indian sepboy - seems very outdated to me.

emerald death?

walking through uttar pradesh? that's a huge state to walk through - perhaps it would sound more authentic if you named a specific city in U.P.

indian jews - also sounds odd. not a commom term.

are you in any way corelating the murder (by gun) of the naked man with the naked fakir (gandhi)?

two 'hold' in the second last line - is that a typo?

you speak of the toga, the loin cloth, abe lincoln & gandhi in the same breath!

toga is more grecian - here it's mostly 'kurtas' 'dhotis' or simply 'robes' that the holy men wear.

altho you've used loin cloth blowing in the free wind of mr. Lincoln - metaphorically
literally - a loin cloth is wrapped tightly around the loins! if it blows....well!

i'm in accordance with that last sentiment expressed - altho how & when you reached the conclusion is not clear. maybe the howling man shot dead was a pakistani or an indian? was the death an outcome of the indo pak war?

i don't mind a poem being illusive but it doesn't really 'arrive' for me.





 
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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


QF---

thanks for your response.

i think the senior (and i think brokenhearted) narrator here has a flux of emotions in his mind...and memories...his journey---both real and metaphorical from India to the US...just as steinbeck speaks of the joad family traveling through america in the Dust Bowl era...

i have tried to select the ones an average american might know---

---chowpatty is used here by Indian restaurants...in another poem i name the beach as you say here and a second poem in which rhe narator speaks of a chowpatty sky---monsoon time...but only saying "patty" offends the ear...in america, it's cow-paddy or hamburger patty...LOL


---rutabagas in Chicago...more colorful than turnip...so associated with cartoons...


---indian jews - one or the other for locals, but both terms if one is both.


---sepoy is not known to most Americans---you know that most of our education about India is from movies...and we dont know U.P. from Outer Mongolia---our great loss. i use it here for atmosphere...

---toga, the loin cloth, abe lincoln & gandhi in the same breath! ....the way callers to talk radio free associate..it makes sense...but may not pass a freshman logic course...

---toga is more grecian - here it's mostly 'kurtas' 'dhotis' or simply 'robes' that the holy men wear...once again, i don't know a single american film using the word...kurtas or dhotis...robes takes an american in a much diffrent direction than to a religious man...toga sounds upright, honest...homer or socrates.

---are you in any way corelating the murder (by gun) of the naked man with the naked fakir (gandhi)? only for you and I..."corelating" is too strong...but for this old gentleman those images are vivid, as mine from boyhood about President Kennedy.
 

---couldn't quite understand: face full of rupees.

rich beauty, but not to be given away freely---most mothers on any continent urge their daughters to marry well...sometime, the avarice can be barely submerged.


 
---no typo...two 'hold' in the second last line - is that a typo?

you speak of the toga, the loin cloth, abe lincoln & gandhi in the same breath!

toga is more grecian - here it's mostly 'kurtas' 'dhotis' or simply 'robes' that the holy men wear.
 
altho you've used loin cloth blowing in the free wind of mr. Lincoln - metaphorically
 literally - a loin cloth is wrapped tightly around the loins! if it blows....well!

oh, then let's say they ripple...no exposure there...but such a timid word...give me the bold american eagle, the buffalo, the huddled masses yearning to breath free...this here is amerika and here we blow....blow and crack our cheeks with blowing...whoops, that's King Lear...


the ending india/pakistan line has nothing to do with the dead man, but is only an expression by the narrator for peace...why didin't you ask me if the dead man was a member of the 13th street gang?

the poem doesn't work for you, alas.

if I made the changes you suggest it wouldn't arrive either...isn't that so?

humbly, i accept your determination.

you saw Siva's snake poem posted here, Arkva hates it...i like his poetry (intellectual) and Siva---gut wrenching. both, very Indian.


great discussion. thanks again.

bernie




Last edited by Bernie01, Aug/12/2013, 9:56 am


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i still hate siva's poems but i love this one. i don't know how you got the syntax rt but you did. zak and queenie have some good pts. who is this N? maybe an NRI? anyway will be back asap
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quote:

the structure of pidgin-- crudely, the vocabulary of one language superimposed on the grammar of another-- suggests a different model than that of a straightforward power relation of dominance of colonizer over colonized.

(young)

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The poem is not working for me. The problem, I suspect, involves a difference in aesthetic slants between us. The poem relies on what I'll call, and for lack of a better term, locator nouns. Indian narrator. Indian Jew narrator. Reference to the Hindu religion. Chicago and its southside. And so forth. All the locators used to tell me something, presumably, about character development, characters portrayed, a dead wife, a lonely widower, and a dead man. They tell me nothing about scene, not even about mis en scene. I remember Ezra Pound thought that, especially with his Cantos concoction, he could create something he called a universal language of poetry, a language drawing on all the world's cultures and civilizations, doing so, in his words, ideogramaticly. I also remember that Yeats, a sometime close collaborator of Pound's, took exception to the notion. He said it was not for him, that he needed the sounds, sense, commotion of the village on which to draw. In effect, he needed the immediate stuff surrounding him. On this I'm with Yeats. So I'm really not in a position to crit your poem. My prerogatives I suspect foreign to your sense of aesthetics.

I can say this. The poem's dead man being used merely as a catalyst for the narrator's aginbiteofinwit. Not sure about that. Just a literary conceit?

One more thing. Poem's title is kind of like a jersey number that should forever be retired in honor of the player.

Tere
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Re: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me*


QF---


if those details were edited out, would the poem arrive?

thanks.



Terry

could you show me a line or two illustrating your point.

Across the courtyard lights blink off,
mine too except for a muted TV screen
broadcasting late news.


or....


I burrow back into the couch cushions,
who was this naked man shot dead
three hours ago.

or are you thinking in some other direction?

thanks for stopping back.


bernie

 

Last edited by Bernie01, Sep/9/2013, 10:46 am


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