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Unread 07-20-2021, 06:54 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,635
Default The Consolation of Bitterness

The Consolation of Bitterness

When I know well the cards I’ve got will lose,
and somebody I’ve hated, taking hold
of all the chips, will leave me grief and booze,
when I feel mean and desperate and old,

when I can see quite clearly nothing’s flawless
but, up close, there are pocks and flecks and tatters,
and there’s no hope, no happiness, no solace
for fools who work at anything that matters,

when I’m convinced that there are no safe havens,
no loves, no pals, and nowhere left to turn,
and now’s high time to talk of rats and ravens
and whether I’d prefer a grave or urn,

then the asthmatic burr in me that sings
from cusséd spite blesses the mess of things.
Aaron Poochigian
Unread 07-20-2021, 07:28 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 5,435

Hi Aaron,

A fine theme for poetry, and executed with your usual flair, I think. I had trouble a couple of times picking up the meter, which may be unique to me, and I did see one rhyme coming - ravens for havens. FWIW.
Anyway: nice one.

Unread 07-20-2021, 08:56 AM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 634


I love the talking of rats and ravens, and the 'pocks and flecks and tatters'. It reminds me of Dylan Thomas, a bit. And the sentiment at the end works, in a kind of 'damn your eyes' way.

John has the right word, in 'flair'. Panache, élan (slightly dark & brooding elan in this one.)

Unread 07-20-2021, 10:23 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 15,432

L5: you can do better than "quite clearly"

L6: "pocks and flecks and tatters" seems to take up more space than it deserves, since I can't really draw any meaningful distinction between pocks and flecks

L11: I don't know that it's ever "high time" to talk of ravens. To me it seems it's only high time to talk of them because a rhyme was needed for havens. Also, and this may be something you intended, by saying "high time" you are, for many people, explicitly invoking the opening paragraph of Moby Dick ("then I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can"), but I think the poem suffers in comparison to that paragraph, which is one of the best paragraphs ever written. While Melville describes this downer mood as a "damp, drizzly November in my soul" that makes him pause in front of funeral parlors and want to knock people's hats off, your description of the downer mood doesn't really give us any sort of unique perspective on how it feels other than trotting out a done-to-death poker chips metaphor (along with a sidelong compliment of yourself suggesting that you, unlike so many others in your view, work at something that matters).

LL13-14: But why? You've not given us a single reason for the sudden turn to blessing the mess. Whom are you spiting? Where is the darkling thrush who turns your mood around? Or to shift poets, whose sweet love remembered (or other cause) rescues you from your disgrace with fortune and men's eyes? What indeed is the "consolation of bitterness" that the title promises? (And "bless this mess" is a phrase that I've seen sewed onto pillows).

Last edited by Roger Slater; 07-20-2021 at 10:25 AM.
Unread 07-20-2021, 11:30 AM
MJ Starling MJ Starling is offline
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: USA
Posts: 90

Hi Aaron,

I have a few suggestions, mostly practical. In several lines, your use of when, but, and, then distract more than they add. For example, I think line 6 would be better without “but.” You may not want to use vulgarity. But “blesses f—cked up things” may fit better.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by MJ Starling; 07-21-2021 at 06:12 AM.
Unread 07-22-2021, 09:57 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 5,468

Aaron, mon semblable, you wouldn’t get much help, probably, from Bertrand Russell’s “The Problems of Philosophy” even if you read it in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris just before the fire. It’s about your speed, but very dry. You pay a lot of attention to the qualia of your observations. But the existence of qualia themselves might be enough to give the turn that Roger looks for. Russell, clever as he was, never committed the social sin of agreeing with even Plato (not my fave bright boy). There’s more in Horatio than there is in simple philosophy. But I’m being coy. I very largely agree with Slater. Yes. Still, you and I could compete for the disgust prize, and maybe once in a while I’d win. It’s a signature Poochigian poem. Better and much faster than I can do so far. I’m running out of quasi-resonan things to say. I hate disgust. It’s non-nourishing. Go tell the Spartans.... and I shall.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 07-24-2021 at 04:43 PM.
Unread 07-23-2021, 06:11 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 5,468

Roger, just for fun, I suggest that “havens” is the secondary rhyme that’s skillfully placed first to allow a side look at Edgar Poe. “Rats” - now there’s an image to savor. Good critique, yours.
Unread 07-24-2021, 04:25 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 634

I read pocks and flecks and tatters as different things.

From my perspective -

Pocks are indented- ‘pock marks’, from smallpox scars etc. They’re a kind of tiny gouging. A pustule. Probably a burst pustule, but let's not go there. Eww.

Flecks are more splattered, the etymology ‘to fleck’, to spot, to stain.

Tatters, for me are frayed edges, beggars clothing (if we’re talking in the same kind of word-level dimension of flecks and pocks). A loss of hard edges, a loss of (not focus, but definition). A kind of metaphysical fraying?

For me, the three kind of explode outwards visually and sonically, from a small thing, to a larger fraying thing?

(now back to the hoopoe's - they're easier - although actually they're not - they insist on looking like dancefloor DJ's)
Unread 07-26-2021, 03:22 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 4,109

I quite like this. I don't know why anyone bothers saying any more, though, given that you never comment on anyone else's poems. I don't really give a fuck, but I can't fucking stand this elephant any more. Come on, Aaron! Talk to us! All of us are flawed and you might like us. Me, I'm completely crippled with anxiety and a horrible mix of arrogance and reverse snobbery and classism. It disgusts me. Allen can't stay away, he loves you, however gnomically expressed the love. Sarah-Jane clearly wants you to join in to the tips of her quivering antlers. John says lovely things to you in the hope that you may say lovely things to him. Possibly in Greek. Even Quincy has tries to reach out to you from the depths of his black heart.

Come on, you fucker, Shit or get off the pot.
Unread 07-26-2021, 05:02 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,397

I write in support of Mark's post. The rules are that you cannot post poems on the Sphere without also posting commentary on other peoples' work. It's a simple matter of reciprocity and fairness. I have known people permanently banned from this site for less egregious offences. If Aaron won't comment on other peoples' work, his own work should not be posted here.

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