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  #1  
Unread 05-03-2021, 04:05 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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Default Lavender

Lavender

She never dreams she is a rose
or a lovely lily like the lilies
the ladies in town dream of
in their little wooden houses
perched on hills beneath the black clouds
that never leave, she dreams
she is lavender, bundled in the arms
of a nervous man, the new man
unaware like fresh light is unaware,
the glow rising from his arm cradle
reflecting off his forever skin, blue to violet,
a slick, impenetrable shine clinging close.
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  #2  
Unread 05-03-2021, 04:50 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
Yup. Yup. Yup.

As the cliche goes, you had me at She never dreams she is a rose

Really gorgeous mood. Bittersweet, somehow sad, but mostly transcendent. And the fragrance is felt without ever saying it. And the color, too. (Just an hour ago I planted some Spanish lavender in the garden).

In L6 it feels like a full stop after "leave". I think it would be nice to take a breath/pause at that point... and then begin to build towards the poem's gorgeous close. I know your preference for minimal stops/single sentence poems but in this case it might be effective. It might look something like this (I've taken the liberty to relineate and in the process got rid of a few commas that might no longer be needed with the line breaks doing the work instead. Oh. And also added "instead").

She never dreams she is a rose
or a lovely lily like the lilies
the ladies in town dream of
in their little wooden houses
perched on hills beneath the black clouds
that never leave. Instead
She dreams she is lavender
bundled in the arms of a nervous man
the new man unaware like fresh light is unaware
the glow rising from his arm cradle
reflecting off his forever skin, blue to violet,
a slick, impenetrable shine clinging close.




The alliteration in L2,3 is almost too much, but not quite. I love it.

My first impression. I've only read it once.

.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 05-04-2021 at 03:04 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 05-04-2021, 01:43 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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I think this has a powerful sensuality, which the poem manages to pull off without a hint of effort, burning beneath the apparently simplistic outer-shell of language. Its lack of typical specificity about the identities of any of the characters contributes, instead of dilutes, the scene imaged: so that possibility seems as light and flexible as lavender.

I do agree with Jim that a full-stop might be superior to a comma. One negatively termed sentence followed by a positive makes for excellent symmetry, and it would provide the poem with more of a palpable turn. After a few rereadings, the only word-level choice that stands out for me is "forever", which jars a little against the idea of a "new" man, and although I think it does communicate some kind of singular realisation, I'm not sure that it quite works logically or super-logically, for me.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by W T Clark; 05-04-2021 at 01:46 AM.
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  #4  
Unread 05-04-2021, 03:17 AM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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Hi,

I love it too. I shouldn't be here (it's busy) but having read it I had to post to say how gorgeous this is.

The run-on lines are perfect - & I love how the images move from rose/lilies (which reminds me of romantic paintings and Sargent in particular) - but then there's houses, clouds - the figure of the man - then cradle/violet/close.

The colours are beautiful, too - moving from evening to dusk.

The word 'slick' brings a note of menace to me, almost - a darker feel to the close which works, I think - it saves the poem from being almost-sentimental - and the figure of the man is nicely ambiguous - I read them as an almost ghost-figure, maybe even an embodiment of nature - at the same time as I read them as human bringing flowers to a loved one.

I would probably consider taking out all the punctuation (but I quite enjoy non-punctuated poems when they are blurry/impressionist poems like I read this one to be) so I'd listen to the majority here.

Lovely to read, anyway. Thank-you!

Sarah-Jane
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Unread 05-04-2021, 06:07 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
Chiming back in to pick up on Sarah-Jane’s comment about the word “slick”. I agree with her that it adds a measure of gravitas that keeps the poem from slipping into sentimentality.

I don’t know why, but when I first read "slick" I immediately thought the better word might be “thick”. Lavender thick. I don’t know why. Probably not. It's just that "slick" has a slippery watery glare to it. But it works nonetheless.

.
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  #6  
Unread 05-04-2021, 02:31 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hi John,

I'm a bit late to this one and all can add is a note about punctuation: I wouldn't mind a semi-colon in place of the comma in L6. However, it's possible that might ruin the overall effect, so you should probably ignore me. I agree with the others re. colours, images, mood.

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Unread 05-05-2021, 02:07 AM
Robert Craig Thomas Robert Craig Thomas is online now
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John, it has a flow, like watching the light move down the side of mountain on an early summer morning, very nice, rich.

Jim, I was quite surprised how "relineating" (is that a word?) changes and focuses the poem... especially how it tightens the rhythm in the 2nd half, after "instead"... I took a lesson here today, thanks.
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Unread 05-05-2021, 04:30 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi John,

The word that sticks out for me here is "lovely". In part it seems redundant, since it's hard to imagine the town ladies dreaming of an ugly lily, and the sense of "rose" in L1 (as I read it) implies that the lily too is attractive. But OK, perhaps, since the ladies live under black cloud, they might dream of a drooping lily say -- a lily that reflects their current state rather than their dreams and aspirations. But even then, "lovely" seems to me a little bland and generic, and I wonder if there's a more specific modifier you could use? Something like "heavenly", seems to bring some extra meaning (for example, "heaven" playing off being up the hills under a sky of black clouds), or "regal" say. Not saying either of those are great, they're just to illustrate. Finally, "lovely lily ... lilies ... ladies" maybe slightly overdoes the alliteration.

You have two sentences spliced together by a comma. I can see a case for keeping this or for separating into two sentences, though I think you'd prefer to avoid the latter. So FWIW, here's a third option so that you leaves you with a single sentence and no comma splice:

that never leave, instead she dreams

But other than that, no nits. Really nicely done. Evocative and strange. In particular I love the unexpected simile of "unaware like fresh light". "Forever skin" is great too.

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-05-2021 at 04:41 AM.
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  #9  
Unread 05-05-2021, 12:10 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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I hear 'lovely' used by 'She' or 'the ladies in town', so I don't mind it. I like the alliteration too.

Lately I've been experimenting with spaces in poetry in place of punctuation. So I quite like

that never leave
........................she dreams

but that might not appeal to you, John. Anyway, that's enough from me :-)

Best wishes,
Fliss
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  #10  
Unread 05-06-2021, 11:21 AM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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I’ve been visiting my son in San Diego where he just achieved a goal he’s had since he was nine. I’m about to head to the airport. I very much appreciate the comments and the kind words. I recently found out that my first love had died and it hit me harder than you’d expect, perhaps. I think those feelings gave rise to this although it isn’t specifically about anything to do with her. I wonder about the idea of abstraction in poetry. How a deep feeling can create a little myth that is concrete but unspecific, similar to how abstract art can create an emotion without being about a specific image. Anyway, this emerged. I am thinking about how to alter the punctuation. I have a long flight and will probably stare at it a while. Thank you all for your help with this little poem.
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