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  #1  
Unread 07-14-2021, 08:17 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default The Rake's Progress

The Rake’s Progress

He who was once a dawg, the flower of lovers,
stands, nude, before the full-length, polished zone
that gives the world back backward. He discovers
bags, baldness and a paunch. (He lives alone.)

Fear and the fearer
are in that mirror.


Next, having stashed the proof of gone-to-fat
inside a robe, he waddles down to get
today’s Gray Lady from the welcome mat.
Above the fold: disease and student debt.

The message-bearer,
the truth, the terror.


Three mugs of Folgers, and he makes his barren
double bed, then lathers up his girth.
Of all the domiciles he could despair in,
this seems the least escapable on earth.

A mid-life sentence:
dread and repentance.


No, it is not a place to laugh and screw in,
this has-been’s hideaway, this devil’s den.
Though spick-and-span, the whole scene sighs like ruin,
like here he won’t be having fun again.

Few souls have risen
from such a prison.


. . . . .
Stanza 3, Line 3: "domiciles" for "studios"
Stanza 4, Line 4: removed commas.
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Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-15-2021 at 10:23 AM.
  #2  
Unread 07-14-2021, 01:23 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Oh, it's lovely (I think most of your poetry is, though - I struggle to say anything sensible beyond 'Wow, it's really cool and I enjoyed it').

I didn't get 'Folgers'. The brand name sounded like beer (and it was close to 'lathers', which makes me think of froth as well as washing) so I saw beer until I googled. I don't understand 'Gray Lady' either, but I'll look it up later.

I love the start, and the 'polished zone', and the italicised lines work (for me) beautifully too, kind of tempering the image, making it more universal. Recontextualisable? Linking it to things we all experience, which makes the individual picture more memorable.

I really love the title and the snippets of what I read as regency vocab running through it, too - the disease, the 'devil's den', the ruin. Ahh, but at least the debauched and softened narrator doesn't have a devilish picture in their attic, or come to the sticky end of most folk-song rakes (most of whom ended up wandering moorland, blind and withered), and the poem speaks of humanity, of softening, I think, maybe.

Sarah-Jane
  #3  
Unread 07-15-2021, 05:16 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Yup, splendid and Hogarthian. Which is good to know - it's working - but you also like thoughts, so let's see.

I like how the first two refrains refer to or explicate the preceding stanza. That falls away thereafter, and the off-rhyme structure to the refrains does as well: R3-4 do not off-rhyme with R1-2. They are, however, lovely, so I'm reluctant to suggest any tinkering. I tink they're my faovrite bit.

A bit funny to hear the NYT described as "The message-bearer, / the truth, the terror."

barren is very nice, rhymes as always worth the price of admission. Not sure why it's a studio? Of all the studios? Studio flat, sure, but it also suggests artists - is there no better word? Dread and repentance is nice.

I very much like screw in - ruin. I could do without "like, here" - like isn't your usual like interjection this time, but I never liked that interjection, I don't think it's his tone, and I hear it in the word even here.

Superb ending.

Cheers,
John
  #4  
Unread 07-15-2021, 06:06 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
Third person hits the nail on the head. It creates detachment/isolation. It is an emotional bullseye. It is stone cold sober and unhung-over. Even coffee can't help. I can imagine the exact time of this being in mid-morning, when things have usually gotten into gear. But not here. Things have broken down.

The Deep End requires that I kick the tires... Consider "cup" for "mug" to make it perfectly clear (though now I see you've tinkered with it by saying "three mugs".) Folgers is perfect. (And "mug" has connotation that reflects the N's mood. So keep "three mugs". I like it.)

The hard sounds of the "b's" and "d's" and "p's" in the first stanza are pounding.
This: "that gives the world back backward." is so laden with richness of imagery, sounds and irony that I am thankful for the period.

This is no "bad day". This is a moment of truth. I keep kicking the tires and checking out the doors but nothing comes to me that I would consider in need of improvement. As is almost always the case, your rhymes are smooth icing on the cake. The end rhymes of the last stanza bleed/blend to become "A/A1/A/A1". Claustrophobic. Genius.

And the couplet refrains are the best part of the poem.

So WoW. I've kicked the tires. I'll buy it.

---

John and I cross-posted. John's comment about "like" is a good one. Maybe if you got rid of the two commas in the final line it would be clearer that you mean to provide a simile, not an interjection.

And the title is classic. There will be more progress reports coming I hope.
.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 07-15-2021 at 07:33 AM.
  #5  
Unread 07-15-2021, 08:15 AM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I’ve opened my sally port a little, and will risk a raid from my angle.

This guy needs a roommate! The sounds and art are superior. Tires kicked above are well kicked. Now the hard part. I see this, despite its great imagery, especially the mirror, as another dive into the pool of don’t make waves. You’ve packed up a bundle of negativity, wrapped it very well, and set it out for the scavengers to munch on. Then you walk away from it while we scavengers must decide to eat it or not. Again, he needs a roommate. Or some friends (a friend). Those who read this and who live as “he” lives, what will they take away? A renewed zest for daily life outside “his” apartment, “doing things,” going to the oasis, boulevarding before returning for bed? Well, maybe. Maybe not. Packaging despair like a good bowel movement and moving on is one strategy that can work quite a few times. Those in similar situations might perk up to read about a fellow as down as they. What I often miss in your masterpieces is like what I miss in (spelling?) Di Chirico’s paintings. He depicts hopelessness, perhaps as a way of expelling it for a while. But I’m left unsatisfied and generally walk away from his art.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 07-15-2021 at 07:09 PM.
  #6  
Unread 07-15-2021, 10:23 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you all for your comments.

I have made some revisions based on them.
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  #7  
Unread 07-15-2021, 10:39 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Nice edits - domiciles is a good word tonally as well as musically, IMO. :-)

John
  #8  
Unread 07-16-2021, 08:03 PM
Mark Stone Mark Stone is offline
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Aaron,

1. The word "discovers" gives me pause. He has probably seen his bags, baldness, and paunch many times before, so it wouldn't technically be a "discovery."

2. If you want to use the Harvard comma, you could insert it after "baldness."

3. If you want to emphasize the smallness of his domicile, you could change "double bed" to "Murphy bed" or "pull-down bed."

4. I don't understand the use of the word "like" in the last line. It sounds awkward to me.

5. I like the four short stanzas.

Best, Mark
  #9  
Unread 07-17-2021, 06:32 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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1. The word "discovers" gives me pause. He has probably seen his bags, baldness, and paunch many times before, so it wouldn't technically be a "discovery."

Haven't you ever stood before the mirror and "discovered" something that you hadn't noticed before?

2. If you want to use the Harvard comma, you could insert it after "baldness."

I don't.

3. If you want to emphasize the smallness of his domicile, you could change "double bed" to "Murphy bed" or "pull-down bed."

I want "double bed" for a specific reason.

4. I don't understand the use of the word "like" in the last line. It sounds awkward to me.

That sentence is perfectly grammatical and idiomatic.

5. I like the four short stanzas.

Thank you.
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  #10  
Unread 07-17-2021, 07:37 AM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I should apologize to Aaron for what might seem to be the sarcasm in my response. He is a genius (a) and talented (b), I consider him a friend who has helped me with toothy replies on my own stuff and great assistance with Lesviot and other Greek [Bion] (c), and who shares to some extent my slant on the world. This is a very well executed poem that I don't exactly thrill to. I hope he can take my words gently.
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