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Zakzzz5 Profile
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waiting on the edge


 
twice before he tried
to get it right the darkness
advancing over the blue mountains
southwest to northeast
two brothers quiet continuing
to work the rows of stacked onions
a car width apart wide enough
later for bucking when the truck
would come wide tires sinking
into the loam the two brothers
working quietly the older one
left in charge watching the storm
coming very black gathering in the mountains
turned black now coming in rain drops
big ones from the beginning there had been
a wind so big then gone
then come again then more rain
now a steady rain they keep working
using knives they cut the onion heads
tumble into silver wire baskets
then into gunny sacks thick
dusk gathers the rain
rain brings the storm
black black as crows wings
so powerful the storm now
lightning there had been and is
the storm drenches heavy
younger brother turns asks
but not till the storm is there
deep everywhere everything blanked
by a dark water fierce
does the older one say
ok lets walk to the car
but nobody runs they
walk but not till the storm


Last edited by Zakzzz5, Mar/24/2010, 11:48 am
Mar/23/2010, 5:42 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: waiting on the edge


hi Zak,

I think I've seen this setting in another poem of yours, maybe when I was visiting tcp.

I get the image of children working at physically punishing labor, not stopping until the older boy decides it's impossible to continue. Both behaving unnaturally for anyone, let alone children, "ok lets walk to the car/but nobody runs" And the emphasis on the timing, "twice before he tried/to get it right the darkness/advancing over the blue mountains" These kids have to keep going until the deluge is literally upon them.

I'm not sure the detached tone is working for me. I understand the decision to avoid any tendency toward the sentimental and I'm not sure how to strike just the right balance. For me anyway, the read is a little too cool.

Chris

Mar/24/2010, 9:33 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: waiting on the edge


Christine,

You sent me back to my files to look for that other version. I want to see the difference. You may be right that it's too detached in this version. As they say in the corporate world: "The customer is always right," and you're the customer. Thanks, Zak
Mar/24/2010, 11:50 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: waiting on the edge


Hi Zak,

The first thing I noticed about this poem is that, despite the coming storm, it is very quiet, in the same way the two brothers are quiet. No mention of thunder or howling wind. This is not a criticism. The fact that you don't mention these, as most would, is one of the things that sets the poem apart. I think it might also be one of the things that adds to the detached feeling Chris describes.

The one suggestion I have is to consider breaking this into stanzas. I'm torn when I say that, because I know that the poem depicts one scene and the lack of stanza breaks reflects that unity. I think, however, there are a few turning points in the poem and stanza breaks would slow the action down and better emphasize those. Just a thought. See what you think:

twice before he tried
to get it right the darkness
advancing over the blue mountains
southwest to northeast

two brothers quiet continuing
to work the rows of stacked onions
a car width apart wide enough
later for bucking when the truck
would come wide tires sinking
into the loam the two brothers
working quietly the older one
left in charge watching the storm
coming very black gathering in the mountains
 
turned black now coming in rain drops
big ones from the beginning there had been
a wind so big then gone
then come again then more rain
now a steady rain they keep working
using knives they cut the onion heads
tumble into silver wire baskets
then into gunny sacks thick
dusk gathers the rain

rain brings the storm
black black as crows wings
so powerful the storm now
lightning there had been and is
the storm drenches heavy
younger brother turns asks
but not till the storm is there

deep everywhere everything blanked
by a dark water fierce
does the older one say
ok lets walk to the car
but nobody runs they
walk but not till the storm

The poem raises many questions for the reader to ponder: Why are the boys out there alone? Why does the older boy keep trying to get this particular thing right? Why does the younger boy stay out there with him, until he gives the signal?

To me this poem has the feel a a painting or a photograph, especially one of those depression era paintings or photos which depict scenes of poverty and the struggle for everyday survival. (Maybe this has to do with the quietness I mentioned earlier.) The poem gives me the same feeling looking at those kinds of images does, so for me, even though the approach here is one of detachment as Chris has pointed out, I still have an emotional response to it. Even though you don't describe either boy's emotions, burdened, empty, lonely, cold are the feelings that come through to me.

Last edited by Katlin, Mar/24/2010, 12:20 pm
Mar/24/2010, 11:51 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: waiting on the edge


Christine,

I went back & did a search of my files and could not find a poem about two boys and a storm. I did find a couple of other poems about field workers & their experience. So I'm at a loss why you feel you've seen this before. Maybe you're remembering a mood that may have been present here and in the other field worker poems. I'll keep looking, but have found nothing so far. I keep things in files, with the most recent poems in one file, then another file for the next most recent batch, and so forth. No luck yet. Zak

Last edited by Zakzzz5, Mar/24/2010, 1:09 pm
Mar/24/2010, 12:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: waiting on the edge


hi Zak,

As I remember the other poem, the boys are asleep in the back seat of the car, then awakened to work very early...? Don't mind me, my memory aint what it used to be anyway.

Chris
Mar/24/2010, 3:20 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: waiting on the edge


Christine,

Yes, I found it. But that poem was about very small children being pulled out to pull weeds from the potato rows behind a potato digger (a machine that got pulled behind a tractor). This poem here is about that same family, but the kids are older now. Maybe the older boy being 14-16 and the younger one 10-12. The earlier powm was about the freezing cold and the dust, etc., and this one is about a storm and responsibility and making a grownup decision. Thanks, Zak

quote:

Christine98 wrote:

hi Zak,

As I remember the other poem, the boys are asleep in the back seat of the car, then awakened to work very early...? Don't mind me, my memory aint what it used to be anyway.

Chris





Last edited by Zakzzz5, Mar/24/2010, 6:55 pm
Mar/24/2010, 6:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: waiting on the edge


Hi Zak,

I remember the other poem you are talking about as well. I've been thinking about my earlier comment that this poem reminds me of depression era paintings and photos, and it made me realize the poem has a timeless, or outside of time, quality to it. For all the poem's detachment, I find it rather haunting and keep coming back to the quietness.
Mar/25/2010, 11:10 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: waiting on the edge


This is a poem. I've noted before, Zak, that your poetry can evoke an Edward Hopper mood in me. Now I'm thinking of a contemporary of his. Grant Wood, best known for his American Gothic painting. It is the poem's tension that works for me the best, actually second best. Voice is taut. Air is as electrically charged as it would be just before a storm. Very well conveyed. And what works for me the best is that one line that carries over so much awe in the voice of, I will guess, the younger brother: "black black as crows wings." This is the line on which the whole of the poem's scene turns for me. I am also slightly tickled by the geographical positioning like a GPS's directional waypoints. The storm moving southwest to northeast tells me what I immediately suspected. The poem's blue mountains is that range that corners the states of WA, ID, and OR. I know the region slightly, at least well enough to see these boys in an area intensely agricultural, what, in itself, makes the scene the more convincing.

This is one of those solid, by solid I mean grounded, poems I would IBPC nominate. I hope it gets nominated on the TCP board you frequent. When it is time for revision and rework, please employ an exceedingly light hand. It would be easy to upset the poem's balance and lose for it its tension.

One thing maybe. Are you sure the poem needs the second to last line? I for one get the determination of the boys without it having to be pointed out. Just a thought.

Tere
Mar/28/2010, 2:09 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: waiting on the edge


Katlin,

I like what you say about the lack of thunder and howling wind. In this case, I'm merely reporting an actual storm that built up like that and came without much preamble (except for the gathering dark, the awesome dark). You're right on the money about the quiet about the brothers and about the storm. I'll think about the stanza breaks. Thanks for reading and commenting. It's appreciated. Have a nice day, or evening. Zak

quote:

Katlin wrote:

Hi Zak,

The first thing I noticed about this poem is that, despite the coming storm, it is very quiet, in the same way the two brothers are quiet. No mention of thunder or howling wind. This is not a criticism. The fact that you don't mention these, as most would, is one of the things that sets the poem apart. I think it might also be one of the things that adds to the detached feeling Chris describes.

The one suggestion I have is to consider breaking this into stanzas. I'm torn when I say that, because I know that the poem depicts one scene and the lack of stanza breaks reflects that unity. I think, however, there are a few turning points in the poem and stanza breaks would slow the action down and better emphasize those. Just a thought. See what you think:

       



Mar/29/2010, 10:07 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: waiting on the edge


Katlin,
I'm glad the poem speaks to you. I'm impressed, for my part, how some of the poetry and prose on the internet is actually better than what I've seen published in hardcopy by university presses. This is not to belittle university presses, or even the glossies, just to say that the good material I read here can often stand on its own two legs. Zak

quote:

Katlin wrote:

Hi Zak,

I remember the other poem you are talking about as well. I've been thinking about my earlier comment that this poem reminds me of depression era paintings and photos, and it made me realize the poem has a timeless, or outside of time, quality to it. For all the poem's detachment, I find it rather haunting and keep coming back to the quietness.



Mar/29/2010, 10:11 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 


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