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Katlin Profile
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Kat's Scratch Pad


Just After the Battle, Mother

Fifer:
Wilderness burnt down—
now
I can harvest the dead

Ghoul:
Wilderness burnt down—
now
I can’t rifle their soles

Photographer:
Wilderness burnt down—
now
I can document the skulls

(wilderness burnt down—
now
can start the new growth)

~

Reenactor:
Tate burnt down—
Lowell burnt down—
now
I can patronize Wal-Mart—
the battlefield got sold


I wrote this poem today in response to a thread on Harriet:

[sign in to see URL]#comments

The mention of wilderness in another thread coupled with the haiku invitation triggered the poem. I guess there is still a chance the Wal-Mart won’t go up:

[sign in to see URL]

And, yes, I realize it’s not a wise idea to mention Tate and Lowell in the context of such a little poem, but there they are.



Last edited by Katlin, Feb/3/2010, 1:39 pm
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ChrisD1 Profile
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Re: Just After the Battle, Mother


What a lovely and complex response to the prompt, interweaving the Wal Mart story.

Funny about Robert Duvall; he's one of those extreme right-leaning Hollywood activists. Guess I agree with him on this one.

I like this Kat. I want to read it again in the morning.

Chris
Feb/2/2010, 8:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Just After the Battle, Mother


Thanks, Chris. The blogger over at Harriet was not impressed: I didn't win a free book! Oh, well. The topic came out of nowhere and was fun to pursue.
Feb/3/2010, 12:45 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Maybe I am biased here. But I can't help but wonder if the blogger lacked a certain imagination for an extraordinary moment in Civil War battle field history, which moment to my mind is evoked by the poem. And in such a minimalist way, maybe the only way the horror of that battle can get carried over. On that day, nature turned against man, both in blue and gray, and roasted him alive like a pig in a pit. The screams that came out of that pine forest were heard from all around. Blues were pulling out grays on fire and grays were pulling out blues charred. And eventually there was nothing any man could do for his fellow man. The irony? The conflagration was because of rifle fire and cannon ball. Not that it is any consolation, Katfriend. But the story came through for me. You found the right way to carry forward that inferno day.

Chris, I am sorry to hear that Duvall has gone right wing. Or maybe he meant it oh so many years ago when a character of his said he loved the smell of napalm first thing in the morning. Dennis Hopper I think is in the same camp. So is John Voight. All three have lost both my respect as artists and, as a consumer, my dollar. What is it about tough guy roles, all played safely in Hollywood fantasyland, to turn decent human beings into something indecent. The same happened to John Wayne. I detect a pattern.

Tere
Feb/3/2010, 8:26 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Tere,

I saw a movie called "Wicked Spring" which is fictional account based on The Battle of the Wilderness. It occurs to me that this poem could have more stanzas and reflect other "characters" who speak in the battle's aftermath. I wouldn't have to stick to the haiku format that the contest stipulated, although I admit having a tight format to work with was liberating in some ways. One fact I just discovered is that General Lee and General Grant faced each other for the first time in the Battle of the Wilderness, May 1864.

I am intrigued by some of the Civil War ghost stories I have heard involving the battle at Gettysburg. I'm going to do some research to see if there are any ghosts sitings related to the Wilderness. If I can find any, I would like to add a ghost voice to the mix if nothing else.

It also occurs to me that the final stanza of the poem could by amplified to speak not only to contemporary American society and its relationship to history but also of the relationship between contemporary American poetry and previous American poetry. That's probably above my paygrade, but the mention of both Lowell and Tate in the final stanza open the poem up to such possiblities. Without consciously intending to, I have taken neither a southern nor a northern stand and my focus is on the common man as hero, or anti-hero, rather than on some larger than life figure. All of that, coupled with the minimalist style of the poem, a style I am most comfortable with, make the poem itself a kind of anti-poem, especially in comparison to Tate's and Lowell's Civil War poems.

Hmm, I knew Longstreet was shot by his own men, friendly fire, but I didn't realize it was during the Wilderness campaign:

As Longstreet rode up to assess the success of his attack, and plan his next massive strike with Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins and others of his entourage, a volley of shots rang out from Mahone’s 41st Virginia lined up parallel to Orange Plank Road in the woods (but almost at right angles to the main Confederate battle line) – and “Old Pete” caught a near-fatal neck wound, lifting him straight up in his saddle.

According to this article, the "injury cost him the use of his right arm."

"In terms of casualties, Wilderness was the third bloodiest battle of the entire war (nearly 29,000 casualties in two days)."

[sign in to see URL]

I've been to the battlefield at Gettysburg and Antietam but not to the Wilderness.

"Enlist in the campaign to restore Longstreet's honor!"

Longstreet's statue was one of the last ones put up at Gettysburg (in July 1998), and it is not prominently placed. Mainly because, as the site explains, Old Pete was "blamed for the loss of Gettysburg (and the war itself) for many years after the conflict."

Sorry just talking to myself here.




Last edited by Katlin, Feb/4/2010, 12:36 am
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Longstreet wasn't responsible for the Gettysburg fiasco. Neither was Pickett, as I've also heard claimed. Lee was responsible. He was also responsible for Antietam. He was a pretty good engineer, which was his trade and training. But he was a lousy strategist and a worse field general. They say that when his blood was up you couldn't stop him. And the hero worship he got did no good either.

But you forgot to mention the first of those disasters. Shiloh Church. Northern Tennessee. April of 1862. A church. 20,000 dead in two days. Two days that changed forever the discourse between Americans, also changed the nature of warfare from something tactical to something total. Yes I think so on both counts.

See what your poem brings up?

Tere
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ChrisD1 Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Oh, I can't wait to see where you go with this. I literally shivered when you mentioned ghost stories. Speaking of the common man, remember Ken Burns' documentary which followed the experiences of two soldiers, one Confederate and the other, Union--both completely sympathetic.

I've got a good feeling about this, Kat.

Chris
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Tere,

I figure that Longstreet got scapegoated because so many people loved and respected Lee. It amounted to hero-worship in many cases. The film "Gettysburg" depicts Longstreet trying to talk Lee out of Pickett's charge, and Lee refusing to listen.

Chris,

I haven't found any ghost stories yet from the Wilderness, but if I don't, I can always make one up based on accounts from other places. Not too long ago, I saw a show on TV where a group of college students, who were doing ghost research, went to the Tille Pierce house in Gettysburg to investigate. It is believed that Conferedate sharpshooters died there in the attic.

Your comment about Ken Burns made me realize how much he has done to bring the Civil War to life for the common man. I don't know that much about the time period, but a good part of what I do know is the result of his documentaries.

Thank you for your encouragement.
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Katfriend, I probably overstated the case when questioning Lee's capabilities as a field general. But it has always seemed to me the hero worship accorded him has set into the shadows the capabilities of his generals called upon time and time again to do the dirty work and CHA. It is lost how many times both Longstreet and Pickett covered for him on the field after Gettysburg. It is also, rather poignantly, lost that on that late afternoon with Pickett waiting for his men to return down the ridge he saw what was left, lost all hero worship for massa and said something like 'that man just destroyed my division.' he never forgave Lee for that summer day. And I can't blame him.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


carp

the author is dead
or so they say
but who are they

there is no they
no you no I no we

nobody home

bodacious bodylicious
botox p(l)ump

up wrinkled
syntax frown
free from cultural
context/identities
shell game

wallop kibosh
caterwauler trollop
kabob cad cadmium

carpe diem carp
arp dada tada
daddy
warbucks

(can the reader
be far behind(


Last edited by Katlin, Feb/26/2010, 11:11 pm
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ChrisD1 Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Good for you, Kat. Very good.

Chris
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Thanks, Chris. This was a fun piece to write. emoticon
Feb/27/2010, 6:24 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


This is smart stuff, seriously smart stuff. What comes through for me is that since we are killing off the author we might as well kill off the reader. And while we are at it, why not kill off the body too?

A truly orgiastic Reign of Terror and the guillotine is sexy again.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Thanks, Tere. This was one of those poems that pretty much wrote itself, proving perhaps that the author really is dead. emoticon

Last edited by Katlin, Mar/1/2010, 11:54 am
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


FYI. I get recertified every two years in CPR. Certification current and I'm trained in the new ways for resusciting authors.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


LOL I love it. I added a few more stanzas to the poem. Not sure if they help or harm, so I moved it over to Poetry Spectrum for critique.
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Something Sanguine Plays
(With Apologies to Mr. Frost)

Nature’s first green is red
Despite what Bobby said.
Her early leaf’s no flower
But bud with lusty power.
As yawns give way to daze,
Something sanguine plays.

tweaking:

Something Sanguine Plays
(With Apologies to Mr. Frost)

Nature’s first green is red
Despite what Robert said.
Her early leaves aren’t flowers
But buds with lustful powers.
As yawns give way to praise,
Something sanguine plays.





Last edited by Katlin, Apr/17/2010, 2:07 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Very effective tweaking, Kat. I thought it was good, now it's better.

Chris
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GaryBFitzgerald Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Agreed!

Good one!

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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Hey, thanks, you guys. I've been carrying that first line around in my head for years, and this spring, I finally decided to try to do something with it.
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Well done, Katfriend, and a little surpring. And, yes, the tweak works. Less arch, simpler, more lyrical. I also respond to the truth of the observation. It is true. Spring's first color is not green. And the lusty power of a bud, to me at least, is explosive. Really well done.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Tere,

I was going by memory on Frost's poem, but I just looked it up and realized I had forgotten two pivotal lines:

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Hmm. Looks like I'll have to try to tweak my poem some more. Hope I can.
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Something Sanguine Plays
(With Apologies to Mr. Frost)

Nature’s first green is red,
Despite what Robert said.
Her early leaves aren’t flowers
But buds with lustful powers.
Then buds reprise as blooms.
As Eden’s myth exhumes,
As yawns give way to praise,
Something sanguine plays.


Last edited by Katlin, Apr/17/2010, 6:29 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


hi Kat,

I wasn't familiar with Frost's poem. Your response is clever and lovely in its' own right. This author is far from dead.

Chris
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Hi, Katlin,

How diverse the 3 poem groups in this thread are! And all of them very enjoyable and readable. I think my favorite is the second one where you take on Frost and the word "lustful" just shines. The 3d one is cool with wordplay, and the first group feels classic, like you have recognized from your source the possibilities of the structure, and you make the most of the turnabouts.

Thanks for the postings,

Auto
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Katlin Profile
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Hi Chris,

Although I like it, that Frost poem has bugged me for years. It was fun and cathartic to finally voice my resistance in verse form.

Hi Auto,

Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. Each of these poems worked well for improv and were fun to do because they were like different kind of word puzzles I had to figure out.
Jun/8/2010, 8:33 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


Psalm of Ourselves

All life is suffering, the Buddha said
when he escaped from a prison
of privilege. How hard we work
to dwell in that cell. If not
forever, then for all the days of
now. As if all is always now.
As if until there is no then/m.
Ahem.

Last edited by Katlin, Feb/7/2011, 3:31 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: Kat's Scratch Pad


A rare treat to see one of your poems, Kat. I love ending on "Ahem." Makes me feel hilarity coming on.

Chris
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Katlin Profile
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Hey Chris,

The ending is my favorite part of the poem too. Meant as leavening but, now that you mention it, could be the prelude to levity. Thanks for taking a look-see. emoticon
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Terreson Profile
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Good note with a light touch on all the world's vanity fairs and ship of fools. I confess I prefer the Buddha's alternative to that of Savonarola. And it is all good.

Tere
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