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  #1  
Unread 01-21-2022, 08:45 AM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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Default Two Poems About Earth

Revision


Three On Earth

I. Boyhood

Plow slicing a furrow in a shadow
that becomes
the dream inside a garden

watch the worms
turn over
another
fall.


II. Middle Age

I held a river crooked
in my hands
watched the dance of the gelding
soon dead

took two turns
of the canyon
gaped beyond.


III. Old Age

Tonight my last crowd stands
in the rain
waiting
to reenter

a sequence
once learned

to ask for this time
to be the next.


***

Two Poems About Earth

I. Boyhood

What’s fucked up in this poem
stays fucked up.
The image is the hardest
to make come.
Plow slicing a furrow in a shadow
that becomes
the dream inside a garden.

It’s now where the worms
turn over
in a final earthworm
free-for-all.


II. Middle Age

I once held a river crooked
in my hands.
Took two turns at the canyon
gaped beyond.
Felt every dance of the gelding
I found dead.

Where are you, my
cold-toed girl?
Tonight my crowd stands
in the rain
to enter and reenter
a sequence
of lessons learned and asking
this journey
about the next.

Last edited by John Riley; 01-23-2022 at 01:27 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 01-22-2022, 12:14 PM
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
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Hi John

I have difficulty with this. It reads a bit like scraps from other poems collected into one poem. Or rather into two poems. Or perhaps one poem in two parts. It's all over the place, which is why it's hard to say anything about. The title has us go one way: two poems related to earth/Earth. Each of these though has a title that goes another way, one related to age. Already it's a little muddled. I see where the first poem relates to earth; the second is murkier: there are references to a river and a canyon. I guess that's it. Then there is a bunch of other stuff: a gelding dance, a toe-cold girl, some earthworms, a garden or the idea of a garden. It's a lot!

What it needs is a conceptual through line. One.
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  #3  
Unread 01-22-2022, 12:50 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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My initial response to this poem, John, is that I'd toss part one. Part two, I think has hope. Well, actually, a lot of hope. I don't know what "my crowd" means, so admittedly much of this, better, movement is lost on me. Maybe this poem, on the whole, is too insular, navel-gazing a bit?

I felt every dance, gelding etc, is terrific. It jumps off the page. My cold-toed I like too, and the opening of that part of the poem. I think, John, you post too quickly sometimes. I have that criticism, whether I state it or not, often. It's what you want, at first. After you've finished talking, you need to listen to the poem.
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  #4  
Unread 01-22-2022, 06:30 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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Posting this was a little experiment. Actually, James, Iíve had this for for at least a decade. I uncovered it and wondered about it. I donít always trust my judgment on things. The feedback helps me place it in order. Thanks.
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  #5  
Unread 01-23-2022, 09:30 AM
John Boddie John Boddie is offline
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This -

Plow slicing a furrow in a shadow
that becomes
the dream inside a garden.

Haiku-esque part is far stronger than anything else you have here. I've always felt that it's easier to develop a poem from a weak start than it is from a strong one, but in this case, I suspect it may be worth the effort.

JB
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  #6  
Unread 01-23-2022, 01:34 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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Thanks for all the comments. They prompted me to take a deeper look. I realize it may be something I should put in the trunk, which set me free to think and write. I'm seldom so mean with my words. That is what drew me to this when I ran across it. Something relatively new to do. Not that I don't take it seriously, but that I posted it looking for help, not to present it as a polished poem, so thank you again for providing the suggestions. I would like to know, if anyone has the time, what they think about this revision.
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  #7  
Unread 01-27-2022, 07:30 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi John,

I prefer the originals, I think. The newer versions seem too pared down, and lose the voice and a lot of the lines I like.

I do line the new title, since with "on Earth" more play of meaning, and even the implication of death (our time on Earth).

I do think adding a part three covering old age is a good idea, and thought that when I first read these before you posted the revision.

With the original I, I really like the first S, and those opening two lines are great and grab my attention. And the next speak to me of the difficult of remembering, conveying and re-inhabiting those times. I'd lose the second S, though. I think the poem stands without it. It seems like S1 gives us boyhood, and S2 gives us how things are now. I'd say, given you have a sequence that gives you subsequent stages of life you could address the "now" in old age and we'd find the contrast to S1 there. Or maybe it's just that "it's now where" is too flat, too editorial and there's a subtler way to do it.

II works for me as is. I love, "where are you now my cow-toed girl?" which is gone from the revision.

The added III, I'm less sure about, and I don't quite grasp; and beyond S1 it seems lacking an image. Though perhaps it would work better written more in the style of the original I&II, with more voice (if that makes sense).

best,

Matt
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  #8  
Unread 01-28-2022, 11:59 AM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hi John,

I'm sorry I'm late to this thread. I find 'Three on Earth' quite intriguing. 'Boyhood' has a sense of creation about it before the 'fall' (not entirely biblical, as it's like I'm watching, with panic, my younger brother falling over); 'Middle Age' has a feel of waning amidst strong imagery; with 'Old Age' I have the impression of a funeral, enhanced by recalling the 'worms' of 'Boyhood'. I don't know whether this is the right reading, but I enjoyed it. I like the 'Two Poems' as well, though, and perhaps there's scope to write a third movement for this piece if people tend to prefer it overall.

Best wishes,
Fliss
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  #9  
Unread 02-02-2022, 08:20 AM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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Thank you, Matt and Fliss. I'm sorry about the delayed response. I very much appreciate what you both like in it and also the critiques of what could be better. I'll keep the notes for revision.
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  #10  
Unread 02-02-2022, 02:12 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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You're welcome, John; please don't apologise. Happy to help as usual

Best wishes,
Fliss
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