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The Church of Mom


revision


The President will sell ninety billion dollars worth of missiles guns and aircraft to Saudi Arabia.

Hijackers: Waleed al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Wail al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Abdulaziz al-Omari (Saudi Arabian), Satam al-Suqami (Saudi Arabian), Mohamed Atta (Egyptian).

Hijackers: Mohand al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Hamza al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian), Ahmed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian), Marwan al-Shehhi (United Arab Emirates), Fayez Banihammad (United Arab Emirates).

Hijackers: Hani Hanjour (Saudi Arabian), Khalid al-Mihdhar (Saudi Arabian), Majed Moqed (Saudi Arabian), Nawaf al-Hazmi (Saudi Arabian), Salem al-Hazmi (Saudi Arabian).

Hijackers: Ahmed al-Haznawi (Saudi Arabian), Ahmed al-Nami (Saudi Arabian), Saeed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian), Ziad Jarrah (Lebanese).

The next Trade Center blow will have US serial numbers. (I would. Make sure of it.)

Church of Mom. Holy place where the sense is kept. Stained glass windows. Red stains.

But this is mupple-topped Barry, in his bedroom with the Transformers posters. Barry with skinful kneecaps.

Mom comes into the room. Barry looks up shamefaced from his tiny hard cock, the greedy little !@#$.

Mom says, ya twerp, give me the toy gun. No more Bubba gum. No supper. No allowance. No power to affect future events. Twit. Do yer homework. That's right, Cause. Effect. You're eight years old and you don't get that?

Mom in the living room, watching TV. Thinking, good thing his Dad ain't here, he's the one gave him those brains.

'
'
'

_________________________________________

original:


People, this edge has to be fallen over.
Now the gold creeps in unashamed after a gloomday
expecting gratitude. Well I don't change, it's still gloom.

My President will sell ninety
billion
dollars
worth of missiles
guns
and aircraft
to Saudi Arabia.
And you know
the next Trade Center blow
will have US serial numbers.

People, this head is shaking right off the neck.
The scales fall from my eyes—they do,
musical notes, weights, thin snake-flakes.

Look, People, it's one thing to make money.
But to do it by blinding aunts, blowing children's arms off,
killing our own mothers—damn right I'm preaching
I preach the Church of Mom.

She comes into the room. They look up shamefaced, the little shitheads.

'
'
'

Last edited by pjouissance, Sep/23/2010, 12:51 am
Sep/18/2010, 7:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: The Church of Mom


hi Auto,

This one straightened my spine. I love the tart, declarative quality and I don't think the poetry suffers at all:

"The scales fall from my eyes--they do,
musical notes, weights, thin snow flakes."

Amen
Sep/19/2010, 11:25 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: The Church of Mom


Auto,

I need to start reading the New York Review of Books again. It seems like they used to print political poems, maybe that was a long time ago. This one has me sitting on the rail. It's the beginning. It brings out a good idea, the church of mom. Caring about the damage war, war profiteering, does to civilians, pointedly: moms. It mentions Saudi Arabia. Oddly, it leaves out Israel, which receives by far more military aid than any country in the world; plus the Israelis, like the Pakistanis and the Indians, can then afford to build their own nuclear weapons.

This poem meets its intended aim, if it is to funnel into the final stanza where the military-industrial assholes come in shamefaced. And I suppose any poem even a small, understated one like this, which proposes an idea but singles out one country could potentially generate a bit of debate. But it's a good beginning.

The writing is good and understated. Zak


quote:

pjouissance wrote:

People, this edge has to be fallen over.
Now the gold creeps in unashamed after a gloomday
expecting gratitude. Well I don't change, it's still gloom.

My President will sell ninety
billion
dollars
worth of missiles
guns
and aircraft
to Saudi Arabia.
And you know
the next Trade Center blow
will have US serial numbers.

People, this head is shaking right off the neck.
The scales fall from my eyes—they do,
musical notes, weights, thin snake-flakes.

Look, People, it's one thing to make money.
But to do it by blinding aunts, blowing children's arms off,
killing our own mothers—damn right I'm preaching
I preach the Church of Mom.

She comes into the room. They look up shamefaced, the little shitheads.

'
'
'



Sep/20/2010, 6:08 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: The Church of Mom


Hi, Christine and Zak,

Thanks for reading! It's changed a lot, and I'm sorry to say, Z, I definitely don't deserve the "understated" comment any more. I have never thought about understating my thoughts in a poem. A flaw no doubt.

Take care,

Auto
Sep/23/2010, 12:54 am Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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Re: The Church of Mom


hi Auto,

Although I'm partial to the original because it's lovelier, this one may be better. It's not a lovely subject nor is the N's mood at the moment...however the tone of the revision tips toward trivial, "twerp", maybe that's right though. He was 8 yr. old Barry once; moms see their boys too clearly to idealize them.

As to the naming of the hijackers and their respective nationalities--for me, it creates a dry stretch in the poem (frankly boring to read but I feel like a bad citizen if I just skip over) Also, I don't get the political point. I know most of these individuals are Saudi but as far as I know, they weren't acting as agents for their govt. Could be I'm dense, could very well be.

I'm still hangin' close to Obama. Guess the scales haven't fallen from my eyes yet.

This is stinging, Auto. Wonderful use of language as always.

Chris
Sep/23/2010, 8:29 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: The Church of Mom


Auto,
It seems like in the beginning, with the listing of the hijackers, the narrator is trying to make a point that the Saudis are the hijackers. I watch too many political talk shows to be swayed by that argument alone. To me the deeper problem is the Palestinian-Israeli land settlement issue. We get into she said-he said about the American perspective and the perspective of our enemies. The Saudis are actually, as a government, technically on our side. Didn't they allow us to use their country as an airbase during the Iraq War? This whole bloody question has to be dragged out to include our huge military contribution to not only Saudi Arabia but to a much greater degree to Israel. It's an intractable problem for our peace negotiators.

I also fail to see how selling missles to Saudi Arabia contributes to the terrorists. I don't see the connection, except maybe in a metaphysical sense. But I do like the image of the serial numbers. The mom and the incipient arms provider (the child, I guess) is a bit undeveloped for me. Maybe there is a third version that works somewhere between the clarity of the first and the dramatic structure of the second.

I do like how you are trying to apply art to these political questions. Zak

quote:

pjouissance wrote:

revision


The President will sell ninety billion dollars worth of missiles guns and aircraft to Saudi Arabia.

Hijackers: Waleed al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Wail al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Abdulaziz al-Omari (Saudi Arabian), Satam al-Suqami (Saudi Arabian), Mohamed Atta (Egyptian).

Hijackers: Mohand al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Hamza al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian), Ahmed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian), Marwan al-Shehhi (United Arab Emirates), Fayez Banihammad (United Arab Emirates).

Hijackers: Hani Hanjour (Saudi Arabian), Khalid al-Mihdhar (Saudi Arabian), Majed Moqed (Saudi Arabian), Nawaf al-Hazmi (Saudi Arabian), Salem al-Hazmi (Saudi Arabian).

Hijackers: Ahmed al-Haznawi (Saudi Arabian), Ahmed al-Nami (Saudi Arabian), Saeed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian), Ziad Jarrah (Lebanese).

The next Trade Center blow will have US serial numbers. (I would. Make sure of it.)

Church of Mom. Holy place where the sense is kept. Stained glass windows. Red stains.

But this is mupple-topped Barry, in his bedroom with the Transformers posters. Barry with skinful kneecaps.

Mom comes into the room. Barry looks up shamefaced from his tiny hard cock, the greedy little !@#$.

Mom says, ya twerp, give me the toy gun. No more Bubba gum. No supper. No allowance. No power to affect future events. Twit. Do yer homework. That's right, Cause. Effect. You're eight years old and you don't get that?

Mom in the living room, watching TV. Thinking, good thing his Dad ain't here, he's the one gave him those brains.

'
'
'

_________________________________________

original:


People, this edge has to be fallen over.
Now the gold creeps in unashamed after a gloomday
expecting gratitude. Well I don't change, it's still gloom.

My President will sell ninety
billion
dollars
worth of missiles
guns
and aircraft
to Saudi Arabia.
And you know
the next Trade Center blow
will have US serial numbers.

People, this head is shaking right off the neck.
The scales fall from my eyes—they do,
musical notes, weights, thin snake-flakes.

Look, People, it's one thing to make money.
But to do it by blinding aunts, blowing children's arms off,
killing our own mothers—damn right I'm preaching
I preach the Church of Mom.

She comes into the room. They look up shamefaced, the little shitheads.

'
'
'





Last edited by Zakzzz5, Sep/23/2010, 12:31 pm
Sep/23/2010, 10:04 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: The Church of Mom


Hi, Christine and Zak,

I respectfully disagree with your statements that the fact that the sale of the weapons is to the "government" of Saudi Arabia is ok, since it's not to the young male populace. The sale will ostensibly be to a bunch of wealthy old men who happen to hold current power there, and whose relationship with us is strictly selfish and opportunistic (like our relationship with them). The House of Saud hasn't been in power particularly long; governments change, but the culture of the young men who are issued these weapons and trained to use them changes much, much more slowly. That culture fostered the 9/11 hijackers and fosters a rampant hatred of the West ripe for continuing violent acts against western civilians.

The U.S. corporate and military culture with its usual utter short-sightedness is out for the buck and the momentary alliance against Iran. We're going to pay again and again for this kind of greed and stupidity.

I can't do more than mention the deeper and more awful violence we are doing to ourselves and others in our insane role as the world's hugest arms-dealer.

My opinion of the President ATM is that he has the brains but not the strength I hoped for. I voted for him too, Christine, but he looks more and more like a smart little boy who wants to fit in.

As for the ancient feud among the tribes of Palestine, it must have been such a shock to the Palestinian tribes to see the Jewish tribes pop up seemingly out of nowhere a century ago. After three or four or five thousand years of battles they thought it was all settled at last. In the old days, it was Baal, not Allah, but the religious differences were about as contentious. It's all a continuation, and we in the U.S., lacking all sense of history, are trying to put out one acute flame after another, more or less uselessly.

IMHO, looking at the long-term, Israel will totter on for a couple hundred more years of strife, but the Palestinian birth-rate will prevail in the end. 200 years more to wait is for the Palestinians a trifle.

I say this sadly, because I have been to Israel and I see how much love and intelligence has gone into making it bloom.

Anyway, though, this poem is about the fact that we are selling almost a hundred billion dollars worth of advanced weaponry to a Wahhabi dictatorship with a frightful human rights record, which was the source country for a devastating attack on us. If I make that point, great, and the rest is style.

Christine, the listing is boring, you're right. Sorry about the in ya face mode there, but it's like we have been stricken with an amnesia drug. The names are the base, the proof of this idiocy, and I thought, necessary. That it's boring goes also to Zak's musing about political poems in general. It's true, political poems are often bad, as this one is too. I'm following up by trying to write a few that have more to empathize with emotionally -- I think that will help. The indignant/contemptuous mode isn't going to endear a poem to us, I get that.

So thanks for putting up with this, and for taking the time to comment.

Auto
Sep/23/2010, 3:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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Re: The Church of Mom


hi Auto,

I don't think--nor did I say--that selling arms to governments as opposed to rogue actors, is OK.

It's a difficult poem to respond to, particularly in a work-shop context. It makes a statement, so I try to follow the logic of the statement. It packs an emotional punch, so I look at how the language and structure serve the underlying emotion. It's a poem, so yeah, I think it is not a sin to notice the style.

I don't require a poem to be "endearing." If
that's what my comments conveyed, my bad.

Chris

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Re: The Church of Mom


Hi, Christine,

Yeah, it's hard to write and hard to comment on because it brings up so much else in the real world.

I'm sorry if I misinterpreted what you said: "I know most of these individuals are Saudi but as far as I know, they weren't acting as agents for their govt."

Maybe I better go back to love poems. What I mean is, this poem isn't art, it's polemic, I see that.

Auto

Last edited by pjouissance, Sep/23/2010, 4:41 pm
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Re: The Church of Mom


hey Auto,

Yeah, I see what I wrote. Don't see how that could be taken to mean it's OK to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. I was trying to keep my comments within the universe of the poem. The poem conflates the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia with the nationality of the hijackers.

If there is a link between the two, and there may well be, the poem leaves a gap and expects the reader to leap across. That's how it seems to me at any rate.

Don't go back to writing love poems. I never told you to write love poems ...although I've heard that writing love poems means never having to say you're sorry.

Chris
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Re: The Church of Mom


Auto,
I don't have anything to add to my notes. I also don't see the connection between selling weapons to the Saudis and 9/11. Remember, they let us put an airbase in their country during the Iraq War. I agree with your assertion of their corrupt ruling class. I've read elsewhere that their anger, that of the young terrorists, comes precisely from our support of that ruling class. However, for example, Saudi Arabia was used by us to fight the Iraqis. In that strange world of the Middle East, they were actually the moderates, if only because they were on our side. I know, this is a sad state of affairs.

If I were you I wouldn't give up on the political poems. However, there is a price to be paid for writing them. That price is the unambiguous gut reaction that some people may have to political statements. Also, someone may not reply to an ambiguous love poem, but they will plunge into the vortex of a political poem.

I applaud you. Zak
Sep/23/2010, 7:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Hi, Zak,

Thanks for coming back, and I appreciate your encouragement about continuing to try to pop out a good political poem, also your wise words about the difference in reader reaction to be expected. I imagine a lot of us don't write these because we don't want to argue premises, we want to just lay out the poem, but that's cheating in the case of the political poem, one must at least explain oneself. Hope I have done that adequately.

Take care,

Auto

_________________

Hi, Christine,

Of course you didn't say that, it was just me making a silly joke. No worries,

Auto
Sep/24/2010, 12:05 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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It occurred to me that I needed to ask a question before commenting on this one. The question would be: "what are you needing/wanting in the way of input? impressions of the poem as a poem? reaction to the content? or input as to whether the poem makes its point successfully?

Can't help but think if that question had been asked and answered, this thread would have been improved. Oh well, we muddle along...

Chris
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Hi Christine,

Yes, that is good to know, isn't it? Sometimes I'll just say flat out that I'd like to know if this line works, or if I make a sharper point, or if a word rings wrong.

So how to evaluate this poem? It's unbalanced and boring with a rather unpleasant and disrespectful second half, its politics aren't very nice, and there's little music or craft - it's prose.

So I guess the questions are: is the conceit unforgettable? I mean the Church of Mom conceit? Does the second half make you want to laugh and squirm and be horrified at the same time? Does the boring recitation of names build into some mysterious powerful disgust?

No? Oh well.

Thanks,

Auto
Sep/25/2010, 12:48 am Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
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The 'Church of Mom' conceit is wonderful. I meant to say that; so now I can see that I was distracted by the politics. (So much for my claim of, "just the poem, maam.") It's a conceit that would be dominant and unforgettable if the poem didn't trigger so many other reactions.

Second half does leave my squirming and horrified...no laughs there for me.

I think polemics and art are not mutually exclusive. All this brings me back to the original poem you posted. I said it was "lovelier." Also gentler, more artful in a way...the sting is there but it doesn't make my eyes water so bad I can't see anything else.

So here's another question: Is there more truth in the second version? Does the original betray something by pulling its punches...does it betray art?

Chris

PS Just realized those questions were probably tongue-in-cheek. Sorry to be so humorless.

PPS Just realized this thread has over 100 views...Not many people participating, whole lotta folks tuning in.

C

Last edited by Christine98, Sep/25/2010, 9:00 am
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Re: The Church of Mom


Hi Auto,

I read the original version of this and then the revision when you posted them. Now I have read the follow-up commentary as well. Taking a deep breath here. Where to start?

I liked the title: “Church of Mom.” Drew me into the poem. Agree that version 1 is more poem-y. Version 2, more prose-y. Version 2 has the advantage of developing the church of mom conceit.

I, too, balked at the conflation of the Saudi government with the terrorists, but your eloquent explanation helped me understand the logic behind the conflation. I also found the list of hijackers to be a stumbling block (of prose, literally). Is there a way to make the list more effective? Maybe line it up differently (see below) or break it up somehow within the poem, kind of like a bad refrain that keeps popping up?

Hijackers:
Waleed al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian),
Wail al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian),
 Abdulaziz al-Omari (Saudi Arabian),
Satam al-Suqami (Saudi Arabian),
Mohamed Atta (Egyptian).

Hijackers:
Mohand al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian),
Hamza al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian),
Ahmed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian),
Marwan al-Shehhi (United Arab Emirates),
Fayez Banihammad (United Arab Emirates).

Maybe nix the list and simply add up the numbers: x number of hijackers from Saudi Arabia, x number from Egypt, etc. Or turn the info into a question: Where did those hijackers come from? (I don’t know; just thinking out loud here.)

Perhaps tighten up the language in the revision. For example:

 “Church of Mom. Holy place where the sense is kept. Stained glass windows. Red stains.”

could become:

“Church of Mom. Holy place where sense is kept. Glass windows stained red.”

The last line of the revision did make me laugh, despite my resistance and inspite of myself.

Would it be fruitful to combine both versions somehow? Just thinking out loud again, but I really liked stanzas 1 and 3 in the original and hate to see you lose them.

Is any of this helpful? Won’t be surprised if the answer is no, or hell no! LOL Oh well, I tried.

Keep writing, Auto. You’ve taken a stand and made a start.
Sep/30/2010, 4:30 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Hi, Katlin,

Many thanks for your detailed comments, which give me some very good direction.

Although this may be hopelessly unpleasant, and the main question may be how to write the "indignant" stuff. It just hardly ever works, but at least with your help maybe I can make it a little more civilized in form.

Thanks again,

Auto
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Hi, Christine,

Thanks,I'll work on a hybrid revision then, and glad you liked the Church o' Mom!

Auto
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What a big little poem! And what a delicious conversation having ensued. Maybe I should vacate the premises more often, then come back and peek in. I do so enjoy all of you.

For me here is the poem: "Church of Mom. Holy place where the sense is kept. Stained glass windows. Red stains." I so get the "sense" of this. Presidents come and go. In spite of their best intentions even they get to be like a cog in a machine called business-as-usual. Angry young men also come and go. I was once one and believed in revolution. The more disenfranchised the angry young man is the more given to acts of violence, which, in my view, is the fuel igniting acts of terror. It is in this context I get the connection, say, to 9/11. But the Church of Mom stays, really remains the one hope.

The poem works for me. Sure it is a polemic. So what? One of Shelley's more empassioned poems was addressed to England's much abused working class in the dirty, filthy days of its industrial revolution. The passion in this poem comes through clearly. I viscerally respond to it. I am thinking the revision is closer to what you are after, Auto. But I could be wrong. Eventually you will know.

One thought I have. What may work against the poem is a misconception. T.E. Lawrence successfully fomented the Arab recvolution against the Ottoman Turks because he understood a huge thing. He understood that the notion of a nation-state as a unit is mostly peculiar to the West. That in the Middle East the functioning social unit is the tribe. (The Middle East as viewed on a map today is really a Western invention dating to WW1.) I would argue that by and large the same is true in Africa. It is also and certainly true in Afghanastan. Pretending otherwise is precisely why NATO efforts there are bound to fail. One observor has called Afghanastan a "nation" of discrete valleys, each its own "state." My point, such as it is, is that calling an angry young man from Saudi Arabia a Saudi would not exactly have the same meaning for him as it does for us. Taken into account perhaps the poem would be stronger for it.

Yep. I do so enjoy rubbing elbows with ya'll.

Tere
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Chris is right. An hour ago I counted 133 viewings of the thread. Now there are 155. You reckon the board has a shadow gallery? Curious.

Tere
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Hi, Tere, thanks for your comments which I'll put to good use.

Hey, that's weird about the views. It's not me!

I'm wondering if the title is on google and some church people are looking in. If so they'll wish they hadn't! Or maybe it's Saudi Arabians, or the CIA...hi, guys!

Auto
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I just googled Church of Mom but it's not there. So I'm mystified. I have much better poems around here somewhere, mysterious reader(s)...

Auto
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Chuckling here, Auto. There can be no accounting for the mysterious reader; which is not entirely true. As board owner I think I could track down the anonymous visitor's IP address. Not interested enough to do so. Anonymity being as boring as it is. You just keep us on our toes the way you do please.

Tere
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Hi Auto,

Been thinking about your poem and in particular the part where you list all the hijackers and their countries of origin. Got to thinking maybe you should leave it as is. If it is boring an/or a stumbling block, yeah, maybe that's a good thing. Could bump readers out of their complacency. Sorry to be a flip-flopper on this. Taken me some time to see the opposite point of view.
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Poem moved from the Poetry Spectrum forum.

Tere
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All I did was speak of real things. Let's find out why fools have me on their lists.

Pam
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Hi Auto,

Having had some time to think about it, I'm hoping that no one is stalking you and that no one has you on some list. I think it is more likely that because Runboard has more members and a higher web profile than either tcp or your personal blog, the poems you post here, especially ones with a title like "Afghanistan," get more readers, some of whom may come to the poem not knowing at first it is one. They could be looking for current information or for a general discussion on the topic, and then perhaps return, drawn to your handling of the material. I am not trying to poo-poo your concerns, which may in fact be quite legitimate. I really don't know. What do you think?

Last edited by Katlin, Oct/5/2010, 1:04 pm
Oct/4/2010, 10:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
pjouissance Profile
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Re: The Church of Mom


Hi, Katlin,

Thanks for your and Tere's efforts and thoughts. I think it's as you say, that people elsewhere, maybe on the messageflow feature you mention in salontalk, are seeing the political refs and checking it out. I doubt the guvmint(I don't dare name names, or some bot will pick up the poem again!) cares what I say, even though I was kind of mean to our President. Not worried.

The Net is a strange invention. Like I'm sitting in a window in the red light district when I sit down here.

Thanks again,

Auto
Oct/5/2010, 3:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The Church of Mom


Can't resist. Now picturing Auto in a particular window. (Now I am ducking.)

If my figuring is right the rapid fire visits to Auto's two political poems have slowed to something more to be expected from a board as small as ours. I've learned a lesson: do not only count replies to a thread. And actually in a good way too. Visits also can show legitimate interest. Sure nice to come home to an expectable board. As a funny side I've decided something about people who think sameness is boring and a drag. They've not lived a very "interesting" life, have they?
  
Tere
Oct/5/2010, 6:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: The Church of Mom


I'm admitting to being here emoticon just readin' along as I have been in many of the "rooms" and many of the posts.--EA
Jun/6/2011, 10:26 pm Link to this post Send Email to elizabeth anne   Send PM to elizabeth anne Blog
 


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