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dmehl808 Profile
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Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


Despaired finally of describing the bald eagle's response, not as cry
shriek whistle nor even fluty laugh, no no no, but simply this:
The aspen splint of a Diamond strike anywhere kitchen match
scratched shearing into white bluish flame turning to mellow warm
reddish yellow--not orange--but red and yellow, burning just as sudden
just as long in a treetop over there somewhere in the dark, while the moon
hung its face just now behind a cloud, obscuring what light, till the eagle,
awoken by the laboring freight calls unearthly sweet rich loud awaaah
awaaaaah do you hear it awaaaaaaaaaah he does waaaaaaaaaahaaaaaah
echoes like some serpentine animal god wailing wound, metallic preeminence,
or perhaps merely, 'I am here under this sky, just like you.' Unable to imagine
really, other than hear his reply, what such a bird makes of this (if wonder, curiosity,
annoyance) housed in his dark tree standing in a less than acre fiefdom, compassed
by city and air--I hit on it, uniquely american filled with like euphoria sudden
as sounds at night, or struck match. I scratch this failure, I a part, like them,
articulate this dumb sound sounding afford and effort all try to strike light.
Oct/31/2008, 3:23 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


It is a Friday night. I'll come back to the poem tomorrow when the head is more clear of the work week.

But I can't help but notice poem's close attention to sound, meter, and breath of line rhythm, all of which to me are essential to poetry looking to speak to the senses.

I'll come back to the poem tomorrow for a closer reading. But I know in my body this is a poem.

Tere
Oct/31/2008, 6:33 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


Second reading bolsters my first. The poem is working for me and here is why.

Over in the discussion area I posted an observation I made. The act of naming cheats us into thinking we know the thing. The act of poetry gets us behind the name, inside the thing.

My sense is that this is the poem's objective, looking to get inside the thing. Your language means stretch, coax, and cajole the scene into relief. I am guessing the eagle must have stood out that much more marvellously for the urban environs over which it perches. Scene comes through. The match head metaphor for the sound of an eagle's call strikes me as both original and well drawn out. And lastly I notice how the poem opens by putting the reader immediately inside its actions. This is good writing.

One thought maybe. Personally I don't mind dispatching with punctuation. I do it myself sometimes. But it does force one to rely heavily upon an accentuated rise and fall of rhythm in order to carry syntactical sense. I stumbled in a few places here, had to read back in order to get the sense.

Good stuff.

Tere
Nov/1/2008, 11:32 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Re: Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


In the past couple of years you've been developing a memorable and powerful style of poetry, which this fits into. It's pretty stream-of-consciousness, but in a way that promotes focused attention, rather than distracted diffusion. The poems are intensely focused meditations: almost like contemplative prayers, or Neruda's odes to ordinary objects and things. You move into the archetypal with this. I have to say, I think it's pretty wonderful stuff, and I urge you to keep on going with it.

I will get back to a more detailed, this is just a first impression.

---
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Nov/2/2008, 1:47 am Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
dmehl808 Profile
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Re: Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


It's interesting how this poem gets its share of negative as well as positive criticism. I have a friend who is a poetry editor for a small literary journal. His comment was, "I wouldn't read this twice," meaning that it not only wasn't one he would publish if it crossed his desk, but one that in his opinion failed, had no spark, etc..

I appreciate the encouragement both of you have offered and your listing of specifics why you thought it worked. Thanks so much. Obviously there's work I could do, but I appreciate the care you both took in your read and critique. Sorry it took so long to say that...I'll try to drop in more often.
Nov/22/2008, 5:03 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


Dave, when it comes to my critics here is what I've come to, and it amounts to a certain set of demands.

Does my critic get my intentions? Does he understand my objectives? Can he understand the means I employ? Or does he come to the text with preconceptions of what makes poetry good poetry? Does he come with preoccupations having nothing to do with my poem and everything to do with his own processes? Is he trying to fit my poem to a template I did not make?

In his famous essay on the nature of poetry E.A. Housman said a bunch of smart things. Here is this: "In short I think that the production of poetry, in its first stage, is less an active than a passive and involuntary process..." (italics mine)

My point is that, in my view, critical reading, in its first stage, should also be a passive and involuntary process. It is the crux of my demand of all critics. Time and time again my best readers show a capacity for letting poetry take the lead in their reading, rather than trying to push it along. Said differently the best readers of poetry read with their body and not with their head. Which is something else Housman brought me to when he said: "Poetry indeed seems to me more physical than intellectual." If he is right, it makes no sense other than to read poetry physically, with the body.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Nov/23/2008, 3:07 pm
Nov/23/2008, 2:43 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
carolinex Profile
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Re: Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


HI Dave,

Not sure I can offer much, but I think there are things you could do to make this more powerful. I especially like to think about how the bird connects with the machine idea. Interesting to read. Hope you can decipher my comments.

Caroline

Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa //I thought of the Dollar Store where everything costs one dollar. After reading the poem, I still wonder what a Dollar Tree is.

I think your beginning could be organized better. I like the match image a whole lot and wonder if you might start with that. Everything is dark and then you light the match...


Despaired finally of describing the bald eagle's response,//I suggest ditch this opening, not nearly as strong as the match image

 not as cry
shriek whistle nor even fluty laugh, no no no, but simply this:
The aspen splint of a Diamond strike anywhere kitchen match
scratched shearing into white bluish flame turning to mellow warm
reddish yellow--not orange--but red and yellow, burning
//really like the match stuff
 just as sudden
just as long in a treetop over there somewhere in the dark, while the moon
hung its face just now behind a cloud, obscuring what light, till the eagle,//it is exciting to spot an eagle and you start to capture that
awoken by the laboring freight calls unearthly sweet rich loud awaaah
awaaaaah do you hear it awaaaaaaaaaah he does waaaaaaaaaahaaaaaah //these awaaah's don't do it justice, I don't think
echoes like some serpentine animal god wailing wound, metallic preeminence,
or perhaps merely, 'I am here under this sky, just like you.'//this seems rich, much better than the awaaah's
 Unable to imagine
really, other than hear his reply, what such a bird makes of this (if wonder, curiosity,
annoyance) housed in his dark tree standing in a less than acre fiefdom, compassed
by city and air--I hit on it, uniquely american filled with like euphoria sudden
as sounds at night, or struck match.//this interests me, how you start to tie in to americana.

I think you might work on the ending more. I t has some nice sounds but...
I scratch this failure, I a part, like them,
articulate this dumb sound sounding afford and effort all try to strike light.
Dec/6/2008, 5:56 pm Link to this post Send PM to carolinex
 
dmehl808 Profile
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Re: Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


Thanks Tere--it's a good and interesting point about evaluating one's critics, and for that matter how to read a poem...I know that I have read or heard poetry with the body as you say, but it reminds me that all too often I don't...I think it's a pitfall of a workshop context that predisposes "critics" to superimpose their predispositions and be critical, partly because it suggests to readers to become critics, and partly because by being posted in a workshop, the poem announces I am not finished but a work in progress--chip away at me. Some poets do post finished work--the trick is in recognizing that. Also the trick is in learning how to and then fostering a visceral read. I think a big part of it is like being considered innocent until proven guilty, or in this case given the benefit of the doubt that one is deliberate rather than reckless and knows what one is doing until found out beyond a reasonable doubt otherwise!?emoticon Reading is like composition and involves stages of cognition, eh.

quote:

HI Dave,

Not sure I can offer much, but I think there are things you could do to make this more powerful. I especially like to think about how the bird connects with the machine idea. Interesting to read. Hope you can decipher my comments.

Caroline Thanks Caroline

Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa //I thought of the Dollar Store where everything costs one dollar. After reading the poem, I still wonder what a Dollar Tree is. [yes, I am parked behind a dollar store the night before a delivery--this is the setting--also I have a series of poems about this sort of thing]

I think your beginning could be organized better. I like the match image a whole lot and wonder if you might start with that. Everything is dark and then you light the match...


Despaired finally of describing the bald eagle's response,//I suggest ditch this opening, not nearly as strong as the match image [I think what I"m trying to convey is that in an effort and failure to convey the sound of the eagle calling from a tree in the dark, I must turn to a metaphor of what the call sounded like--a struck match...]

 not as cry
shriek whistle nor even fluty laugh, no no no, but simply this:
The aspen splint of a Diamond strike anywhere kitchen match
scratched shearing into white bluish flame turning to mellow warm
reddish yellow--not orange--but red and yellow, burning
//really like the match stuff
 just as sudden
just as long in a treetop over there somewhere in the dark, while the moon
hung its face just now behind a cloud, obscuring what light, till the eagle,//it is exciting to spot an eagle and you start to capture that [I never actually see the eagle but know and recognize its cries having heard and seen them before]
awoken by the laboring freight calls unearthly sweet rich loud awaaah
awaaaaah do you hear it awaaaaaaaaaah he does waaaaaaaaaahaaaaaah //these awaaah's don't do it justice, I don't think [the awaaahs are the sound the train makes, which in turn wakes and instigates the eagle's cry/response...the train sound was really quite incredible--every bit as inspiring of poetry as the eagle--and you bet I am frustrated at not being able to convey what that sound was like other than a lame awaaah...I'll think on it some more]
echoes like some serpentine animal god wailing wound, metallic preeminence,
or perhaps merely, 'I am here under this sky, just like you.'//this seems rich, much better than the awaaah's
 Unable to imagine
really, other than hear his reply, what such a bird makes of this (if wonder, curiosity,
annoyance) housed in his dark tree standing in a less than acre fiefdom, compassed
by city and air--I hit on it, uniquely american filled with like euphoria sudden
as sounds at night, or struck match.//this interests me, how you start to tie in to americana.

I think you might work on the ending more. I t has some nice sounds but...
I scratch this failure, I a part, like them,
articulate this dumb sound sounding afford and effort all try to strike light.

[thanks for the help, Caroline--I'll give some thought to the changes you suggest and see what I can come up with]

Dec/12/2008, 7:25 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
carolinex Profile
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Re: Machine, Bird, Man, Behind The Dollar Tree in Milton, Wa


Thanks for your explanations Dave. I see I missed some things. I took the Dollar Tree as a literal tree. I can be way too literal. Yet I still thought of the Dollar Stores.

I took the match as offering light, so you could see the eagle, but you were interested in the match for it's sound. That's pretty different.

Well, sometimes it helps to see a piece through someone else's fresh eyes.

Look forward to the revise...


Dec/13/2008, 8:29 pm Link to this post Send PM to carolinex
 


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