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Old 03-04-2014, 04:40 PM   #1
Tsotha
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The Tsotha improvement project thread

Hello, everyone. You may have seen me around, writing some stuff.

I've been holding off on submitting, or even asking for feedback here, because I didn't want to waste your time with something that not even I consider read-worthy. Which ends in a conundrum: while I know what I like, I don't know why I like it, I don't know if what I like is "good", I don't even know if it is a poem (you'll notice I created a thread asking what a poem is).

So... Perhaps I should ask for some guidance. I was thinking about which of mine to present and ask for feedback. Should I present what I consider to be the best? Should I present one that I have mixed feelings about (which can be improved more)? In the end, I've decided for this one, which Desejo and Neonurotic liked, as I participated in the 30 in 30.
You and me,
we are like a bonsai tree.
A pretty seed meant for great things
planted in a pot too small.
A young trunk made gnarled by force,
sustained by roots grown too big,
too starved, pushing the envelope,
sustaining thin, atrophied limbs,
cut again and again,
never meant to bear fruit.
An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps good for exposition.
What can you tell me about improving this? Go ahead and tear it apart. No mercy.
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Old 03-04-2014, 05:17 PM   #2
bronzeage
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsotha View Post
Hello, everyone. You may have seen me around, writing some stuff.

I've been holding off on submitting, or even asking for feedback here, because I didn't want to waste your time with something that not even I consider read-worthy. Which ends in a conundrum: while I know what I like, I don't know why I like it, I don't know if what I like is "good", I don't even know if it is a poem (you'll notice I created a thread asking what a poem is).

So... Perhaps I should ask for some guidance. I was thinking about which of mine to present and ask for feedback. Should I present what I consider to be the best? Should I present one that I have mixed feelings about (which can be improved more)? In the end, I've decided for this one, which Desejo and Neonurotic liked, as I participated in the 30 in 30.
You and me,
we are like a bonsai tree.
A pretty seed meant for great things
planted in a pot too small.
A young trunk made gnarled by force,
sustained by roots grown too big,
too starved, pushing the envelope,
sustaining thin, atrophied limbs,
cut again and again,
never meant to bear fruit.
An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps good for exposition.
What can you tell me about improving this? Go ahead and tear it apart. No mercy.
I like this piece. The metaphor of the bonsai tree(even though you use a simile in L2) is well explored. My only objection is "pushing the envelope". This expression was coined by aircraft designers who wanted to go faster and higher, always trying to find the limit of their machine. The envelope is a malleable barrier, which yields when pushed. A bonsai tree is opposite. It is grown to be confined and constrained and the goal is to create a miniature of a true tree.
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Old 03-04-2014, 06:43 PM   #3
Tsotha
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bronzeage View Post
I like this piece. The metaphor of the bonsai tree(even though you use a simile in L2) is well explored.
Ah, the simile removes the power from the metaphor? Hm, it makes sense... I'll have to keep that in mind. I feel that in this particular case it is not so bad (as it could have been) because the poem reads a bit like it's a line being delivered by someone ("Hey, you know what? We are like a bonsai tree..."). But something to keep in mind. Thank you for the insight!

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Originally Posted by bronzeage View Post
My only objection is "pushing the envelope". This expression was coined by aircraft designers who wanted to go faster and higher, always trying to find the limit of their machine. The envelope is a malleable barrier, which yields when pushed. A bonsai tree is opposite. It is grown to be confined and constrained and the goal is to create a miniature of a true tree.
Oops. I thought of envelope simply in the sense of something that envelopes something else; given the expression you've pointed out, I can see how it works in the wrong direction... Not sure what word I'd use in its place out of the top of my head, boundaries. Perhaps.

Thank you for the comment, bronzeage!
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Old 03-04-2014, 09:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsotha View Post
Hello, everyone. You may have seen me around, writing some stuff.

I've been holding off on submitting, or even asking for feedback here, because I didn't want to waste your time with something that not even I consider read-worthy. Which ends in a conundrum: while I know what I like, I don't know why I like it, I don't know if what I like is "good", I don't even know if it is a poem (you'll notice I created a thread asking what a poem is).

So... Perhaps I should ask for some guidance. I was thinking about which of mine to present and ask for feedback. Should I present what I consider to be the best? Should I present one that I have mixed feelings about (which can be improved more)? In the end, I've decided for this one, which Desejo and Neonurotic liked, as I participated in the 30 in 30.
You and me,
we are like a bonsai tree.
A pretty seed meant for great things
planted in a pot too small.
A young trunk made gnarled by force,
sustained by roots grown too big,
too starved, pushing the envelope,
sustaining thin, atrophied limbs,
cut again and again,
never meant to bear fruit.
An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps good for exposition.
What can you tell me about improving this? Go ahead and tear it apart. No mercy.
one, i like the last three lines
two, can "pushing the envelope" it is a cliche and dead centre.
three, thin, atrophied seam to a redundancy, any reason for both?

and lastly, and this is tricky - it is a different audience over there, generally less astute, more prone to respond to emotional triggers

What are you looking for?

Your preface is praiseworthy, and thought, a concern about the reader, you will do well.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
two, can "pushing the envelope" it is a cliche and dead centre.
Ah, you'll have to help me here... What does "dead centre" mean? I found this definition:

1. the position of a crank when it is in line with the connecting rod and not exerting torque.

Are you saying that you feel "pushing the envelope" serves no purpose where it is?

Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
three, thin, atrophied seam to a redundancy, any reason for both?
A very good question. And the question itself is more important than whatever answer I give, for it is the question that leads to insight. I could justify this in a hundred ways, it is the thinking about that is important.

I wrote this a while ago, and as usual it was live write style. But, intuitively, I think I was doing this:

You and me,
we are like a bonsai tree.
A pretty seed (pretty, good) meant for great things (great things, good)
planted in a pot too small. (too small, bad)
A young trunk (young, good) made gnarled by force, (gnarled by force, bad)
sustained by roots (roots, firm, good) grown too big, (too big, bad)
too starved, (starved, bad) pushing the envelope, (trying to go beyond a limit, bad)
sustaining thin, (thin, gracious, good) atrophied limbs, (atrophied, bad)
cut again and again, (very bad)
never meant to bear fruit. (very bad)
An experiment,
perfect in its execution, (experiment, perfect in execution, cold and bad)
perhaps good for exposition. (perhaps good for exposition, really bad)

There is a conflicted feeling there, of something that is potentially good, but isn't at the same time. Notice how it gets worse as it reaches the end? And then the three last lines, which form a cold assessment of what is above. Looking back, it's interesting the contrast to the first part, which is emotional. Reading the first two lines you may think it's going to be a love poem of some kind. It's like a transition. Originally, I had called this poem "the realization" (yeah, I know it sucks as a title, bear with me ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
and lastly, and this is tricky - it is a different audience over there, generally less astute, more prone to respond to emotional triggers

What are you looking for?

Your preface is praiseworthy, and thought, a concern about the reader, you will do well.
Over "there"? You mean once it is submitted? Hm.

It probably won't sound very good, but I write for myself. Of course I stop to think how people are going to receive what I'm writing, and I'd think twice about what I share. I've even pulled a poem down before, for thinking it was too "raw". However, I mostly do live writes, and those are what they are, they come in the moment, so I can't be too picky. What I do think a lot about is whether what I'm writing will make any sense to others (and I feel that, too often, it doesn't).

With the exception of the odd poem which has somehow caught someone's eye here on the forum, I don't know if what I'm writing is even read. Much less the effect it has. So I guess I'm beyond that point, of looking for attention, and I'm just having some kind of fun writing.

Ideally, by submitting I will get feedback (I know greenmountaineer does his rounds and comments a lot over there), but you're just as likely to get anon trolling or no comment at all (which is a comment in itself, I think). But then, I just got some high quality comments right here, right?

So gee, I don't know. I guess at some point a poem grows up and it's time for it to leave home? Stop asking difficult questions...

Last edited by Tsotha : 03-05-2014 at 12:41 AM.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:02 AM   #6
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The first two lines got me thinking about the sound of the poem. I offer this, not as a suggested improvement, rather perhaps as something to stimulate your thinking about sound:

"You and I
are like a bonsai tree"

Sometimes internal rhymes make for a more subtle and pleasing music than end rhymes do. 1201's link to the Levertov article in the line breaking thread deals with this quite well.

I'm going out on a limb here (pun intended) but I sense disappointment as the prevailing emotion at the conclusion of the poem. If that's true, "perfect" doesn't work for me. If intended as sarcasm, it still takes away from the heavy laden disappointment the poet feels (again, only if I'm correct in my assumption). Neither does "perhaps" work IMO because it suggests tentativeness when, in fact, resignation is a pretty definitive conclusion.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsotha View Post
Hello, everyone. You may have seen me around, writing some stuff.

I've been holding off on submitting, or even asking for feedback here, because I didn't want to waste your time with something that not even I consider read-worthy. Which ends in a conundrum: while I know what I like, I don't know why I like it, I don't know if what I like is "good", I don't even know if it is a poem (you'll notice I created a thread asking what a poem is).

So... Perhaps I should ask for some guidance. I was thinking about which of mine to present and ask for feedback. Should I present what I consider to be the best? Should I present one that I have mixed feelings about (which can be improved more)? In the end, I've decided for this one, which Desejo and Neonurotic liked, as I participated in the 30 in 30.

You and me,
we are like a bonsai tree.
A pretty seed meant for great things
planted in a pot too small.
A young trunk made gnarled by force,
sustained by roots grown too big,
too starved, pushing the envelope,
sustaining thin, atrophied limbs,
cut again and again,
never meant to bear fruit.
An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps good for exposition.
What can you tell me about improving this? Go ahead and tear it apart. No mercy.
anyone seeking improvement isn't wasting anyone's time - not their own, not others here. feedback's absorbed by our metaphorical roots, sustains growth. you don't have to act on feedback; often it's offered with the best intention but misses the mark - other times it's spot-on, but we, as authors, aren't ready to listen (even if we think we are ). it's an organic, osmosis-y kind of thing, and works at more subtle levels than the hack and slash of a red pen.

this is what i think about your piece:

You and me,
we are like a bonsai tree.
{ok, get the image, it's a sound one - easy visual. feels a little juvenile, almost love-song lyrical, with the 'You and me', though moving through the poem it becomes less innocent and more twisted with discomfort. Like a bonsai. I can look at one and admire how beautiful it is and still feel discomforted by the warped way it's been grown, wondering just how huge and splendid it might have become... I'm guessing your intent is quite deliberate with that opening 'feel', and i can see the reasoning, but i still prefer the image to the actual wording.}

A pretty seed meant for great things
planted in a pot too small.
{k.i.s.s works here with the naive expressions echoing the opening lines' feel; simplistic, mostly monosyllabic language, the cute softened t's... all add to this overall feel of cute/decorative but with potential - potential takes nurturing; what follows feels more like a torturing.}

A young trunk made gnarled by force,
sustained by roots grown too big,
{aren't bonsai roots cut back, too? i thought they were. like the execution of the vision you give us, of something young, upright, vigorous, becoming warped and miss-shapen by external forces, by lack of room to develop. also sound becomes more developed, less naive, lower in tone. saddens me.}

too starved, pushing the envelope,
{enjoying the sound-play with gnarled/starved, young/trunk, roots/too and so on. do i like 'pushing the envelope'? i can see how it's been used, as something enveloping that's being pushed against, but don't think it lends itself well to this particular image since the pots tend to be so solid, so constricting, there's not the movement suggested by the phrase.}

sustaining thin, atrophied limbs,
cut again and again,
{having read your explanation - 'good/bad' stuff - i see where you're coming from, how thin might be seen as beautiful (depending on context, and i would suggest 'delicate' but that doesn't hold something of the inner strength i see in bonsai... they might be miniature versions but they are still wood and surprisingly strong, though maybe brittle...) Again, a maturing of the language into more complex, multisyllabic less comfortable wording. 'Sustaining/sustained'? reps can work but i don't see what it brings to the piece in this instance. 'cut again and again' speaks sorrowfully (to me) of something living, reaching, striving for growth only to have its natural development cut back, restricted, cut being quite a hard, unforgiving short word.}

never meant to bear fruit.
{how sad. a denial of a thing's true nature by deliberate intervention, a retardation of its raison d'etre. linked sound-play relating back through the piece, with the t's, ooo's and r's.}

An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps good for exposition.
{i feel i'm being told,, not shown... if you wanted to use this concept, i'd attempt a reworking of the wording. i'm not sure it's needed at all: bonsai trees, by their nature, are considered art-forms and are frequently on view to the public in some form or another. exposition/expo - the suggestion here is for mass exposure to a gawking public - makes me think of celebrity couples whose relationships, despite maybe starting with the sweetest of feelings, grow brittle and sterile, trapped and moulded by expectation and interference. IF it's your intention to go there, then keep the concept, think about how to better the wording.}

some other choices to think about:
On Display

You and me,
a bonsai tree:
pretty seed of destiny
planted in a pot too small,
young trunk gnarled by force,
sustained by roots too starved,
too atrophied,
feeding thin limbs
cut again and again,
never meant to bear fruit.
tried to cut it back, sympathetically, more bonsai
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Last edited by butters : 03-05-2014 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmountaineer View Post
Sometimes internal rhymes make for a more subtle and pleasing music than end rhymes do. 1201's link to the Levertov article in the line breaking thread deals with this quite well.

.
Tzara's link.
And it surprised me.

Dead Centre- right in the middle and sticking out, your use is a cliche (overused) 'envelope' itself had no relationship with any other word in poem. If I saw "wood pulp" "paper" I would try to follow a linkage there. The rest of the poem is pretty tight. This is what I call alignment of words (a pattern), if there is a disruption there must be a reason.

Here you also had four people weigh in, all four I would consider as having validity. You responded. You will be lucky to get that as comments in New Poems.

Didn't see much of a story though. More like a metaphor.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:14 PM   #9
Tsotha
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmountaineer View Post
The first two lines got me thinking about the sound of the poem. I offer this, not as a suggested improvement, rather perhaps as something to stimulate your thinking about sound:

"You and I
are like a bonsai tree"

Sometimes internal rhymes make for a more subtle and pleasing music than end rhymes do. 1201's link to the Levertov article in the line breaking thread deals with this quite well.
I like that. I was worried about the "you and me, / we are like a bonsai tree" and it forced me to throw that "we" in there. I hadn't really stopped to consider the internal rhyme... And it sounds good, too. It's a good suggestion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmountaineer View Post
I'm going out on a limb here (pun intended) but I sense disappointment as the prevailing emotion at the conclusion of the poem. If that's true, "perfect" doesn't work for me. If intended as sarcasm, it still takes away from the heavy laden disappointment the poet feels (again, only if I'm correct in my assumption). Neither does "perhaps" work IMO because it suggests tentativeness when, in fact, resignation is a pretty definitive conclusion.
Ah, you're correct. There is an element of disappointment, and an element of resignation, but no sarcasm. But there is some pragmatism, too "what do I do with this, if this is what I have? It's perfect in the way it was kept from growing. Perhaps it's good enough for exposition."

The reflection on intent and choice of words is very pertinent, and it tells me that the message isn't as clear as it can be. Thank you, greenmountaineer, for your comment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
anyone seeking improvement isn't wasting anyone's time - not their own, not others here. feedback's absorbed by our metaphorical roots, sustains growth. you don't have to act on feedback; often it's offered with the best intention but misses the mark - other times it's spot-on, but we, as authors, aren't ready to listen (even if we think we are ). it's an organic, osmosis-y kind of thing, and works at more subtle levels than the hack and slash of a red pen.
Well, the problem now is, if I act on the suggestion of one of you, I risk offending the rest! I guess I'm not submitting this to LIT after all...

Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
this is what i think about your piece:
butters, thank you for the line by line look into the meaning of the piece. That was enlightening, your reflection on the poem is perhaps more interesting than the poem itself.

I notice you kept the "you and me" in your edit. I was considering what you said about preferring the image to the wording, and thinking about a way of removing those two first lines. I haven't come up with anything, though if I just remove the lines, without adding something else, the intention becomes too obscure...

Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
sustained by roots grown too big,
{aren't bonsai roots cut back, too? i thought they were.
Yes, they are... They overgrow inside the pot, messing up aeration, water absorption and drainage, so it's necessary to trim the root. It would probably be more precise to say "sustained by overgrown roots". I think I was trying to keep the "too this, too that" pattern, but I'm not sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
i would suggest 'delicate' but that doesn't hold something of the inner strength i see in bonsai...
Good idea with "delicate", and again by noticing the strength of the bonsai. It's limited by external forces, but stubborn in its desire to grow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
'Sustaining/sustained'? reps can work but i don't see what it brings to the piece in this instance.
Sorry, but what does "reps" mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps good for exposition.
{i feel i'm being told,, not shown... if you wanted to use this concept, i'd attempt a reworking of the wording. i'm not sure it's needed at all: bonsai trees, by their nature, are considered art-forms and are frequently on view to the public in some form or another. exposition/expo - the suggestion here is for mass exposure to a gawking public - makes me think of celebrity couples whose relationships, despite maybe starting with the sweetest of feelings, grow brittle and sterile, trapped and moulded by expectation and interference. IF it's your intention to go there, then keep the concept, think about how to better the wording.}
lol! Not my intention at all (making you think of celebrity couples). Indeed, that those three lines took you in that direction should be a warning to me that something needs rethinking.

About "exposition"... Well, in a sense, the act of exposition is in the writing of this very poem. Thus, perhaps good for exposition.

I agree that these three lines are telling, not showing. But I'm just not completely sold on the idea that it is a bad thing the poem reads a bit like someone on a soapbox and saying what he thinks. Perhaps the approach itself is bad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
some other choices to think about:
On Display

You and me,
a bonsai tree:
pretty seed of destiny
planted in a pot too small,
young trunk gnarled by force,
sustained by roots too starved,
too atrophied,
feeding thin limbs
cut again and again,
never meant to bear fruit.
tried to cut it back, sympathetically, more bonsai
Indeed, very bonsai. A very interesting take. You've maintained the message while significantly trimming the number of lines and words. It has the butters trademark etherealness that I enjoy. I have the tendency to go for long(er) sentences with lots of needless words and commas for interruptions...

There is a point you reach where you look at something you've written and it has a completely fixed format in your mind, you change a single word and it feels wrong. Of course, it isn't wrong, it's just different from what you've convinced yourself to be right. It's interesting to let someone else edit what you've written they go in with a chainsaw and start pruning, and while they're doing it you're going: "Nooo! Not that part!" But when it's done, it's a whole thing again, and you think: "Well, ok, that actually wasn't so bad."

Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
Dead Centre- right in the middle and sticking out, your use is a cliche (overused) 'envelope' itself had no relationship with any other word in poem. If I saw "wood pulp" "paper" I would try to follow a linkage there. The rest of the poem is pretty tight. This is what I call alignment of words (a pattern), if there is a disruption there must be a reason.
That makes sense... I wanted to reinforce the feeling of something trying to grow, despite a restriction, but I agree that it seems out of place. I'll have to think about that. I noticed that butters' rewrite also removed that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
Here you also had four people weigh in, all four I would consider as having validity. You responded. You will be lucky to get that as comments in New Poems.
Indeed, very lucky; I'm grateful for everyone's comments. It was very interesting to see what everyone else thinks it means, it breathes new life, opens new angles. The questions about intent and word choice were very interesting.

About responding, I'm doing it both to explain my original intent (where I feel it's been asked) and to honor the time you all have invested (I don't want you too feel like you're throwing it away, haha). Hopefully I'm not sounding defensive; it isn't my intention. I appreciate all the feedback you've given.

Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
Didn't see much of a story though. More like a metaphor.
It isn't a poem, then?
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsotha View Post
Well, the problem now is, if I act on the suggestion of one of you, I risk offending the rest! I guess I'm not submitting this to LIT after all...
Nah, of those of us who've already replied, i feel sure that's not the case - we're just thinking aloud and offering opinions

butters, thank you for the line by line look into the meaning of the piece. That was enlightening, your reflection on the poem is perhaps more interesting than the poem itself.
i like a piece that gets me to think. seeing how others view the nuts and bolts of our writes is generally pretty interesting

I notice you kept the "you and me" in your edit. I was considering what you said about preferring the image to the wording, and thinking about a way of removing those two first lines. I haven't come up with anything, though if I just remove the lines, without adding something else, the intention becomes too obscure...
i did, because (having taken apart what i felt it was saying//asking me to feel through your word-choices) it felt better suited for overall tone - the naivety to disillusionment movement. plus i was trying to keep it as true to your original wording/perceived intentions.

Yes, they are... They overgrow inside the pot, messing up aeration, water absorption and drainage, so it's necessary to trim the root. It would probably be more precise to say "sustained by overgrown roots". I think I was trying to keep the "too this, too that" pattern, but I'm not sure.
my problem with this image 'sustained by overgrown roots' is that it makes me see roots that are far larger than the tree's canopy, so completely out of proportion... it doesn't gel with the image in my head of a beautiful bonsai that initially looks all in proportion.

Good idea with "delicate", and again by noticing the strength of the bonsai. It's limited by external forces, but stubborn in its desire to grow.
this may be key to where to go with this


Sorry, but what does "reps" mean?
oh, sorry, repetitions. using sustained and sustaining so close together in this instance. didn't work for me, personally. but that's just me!



lol! Not my intention at all (making you think of celebrity couples). Indeed, that those three lines took you in that direction should be a warning to me that something needs rethinking.
showed you where I went with it. you'd have to ask the others if it took them there too before deciding if it doesn't do what you want it to.

About "exposition"... Well, in a sense, the act of exposition is in the writing of this very poem. Thus, perhaps good for exposition.
ha, now i should have seen that it was being used in the literary sense but was already caught up in the story my own head was creating. sorry! i went more with 'expo', i.e 'a large public exhibition of art or trade goods' (hence celebrities - created like bonsai, warped into something considered beautiful and widely on display/trade goods in the eyes of the media) and the reason for the title i gave my reworking. the fact i took it and gave it an entirely different meaning to your intention ? mea culpa. is where it took me *smiles*

I agree that these three lines are telling, not showing. But I'm just not completely sold on the idea that it is a bad thing the poem reads a bit like someone on a soapbox and saying what he thinks. Perhaps the approach itself is bad?
depends entirely on context and your intentions

Indeed, very bonsai. A very interesting take. You've maintained the message while significantly trimming the number of lines and words. It has the butters trademark etherealness that I enjoy. I have the tendency to go for long(er) sentences with lots of needless words and commas for interruptions...
just an alternate view, and going with the logic of celeb couple on display ... i did try to make it reflect a trimmed, bonsai approach - an individual writer's style is important, and maybe i took it too far to fit in with the logic of the piece as i read it. i usually do try to keep any suggestions as close to the writer's original styling - perhaps i wasn't careful enough here, thinking about the poem's voice over yours - the poem's voice as I read i, not as it was intended. still, i gave it a shot

There is a point you reach where you look at something you've written and it has a completely fixed format in your mind, you change a single word and it feels wrong. Of course, it isn't wrong, it's just different from what you've convinced yourself to be right. It's interesting to let someone else edit what you've written they go in with a chainsaw and start pruning, and while they're doing it you're going: "Nooo! Not that part!" But when it's done, it's a whole thing again, and you think: "Well, ok, that actually wasn't so bad."
oh yeah, been there, done that. just occasionally i'm right - more usually, given time and developed skills, i see i was wrong. time can offer us perspective otherwise lacking.



...
About responding, I'm doing it both to explain my original intent (where I feel it's been asked) and to honor the time you all have invested (I don't want you too feel like you're throwing it away, haha). Hopefully I'm not sounding defensive; it isn't my intention. I appreciate all the feedback you've given.
personally, i certainly don't see it as defensive or a throwing away - it's an interesting discussion!



It isn't a poem, then?
can't answer for others, but i'm just gonna blow a raspberry here. of course it's a poem - just needs getting to where you want it to go.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:25 PM   #11
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It isn't a poem, then?
well I liked it, I think it operates on poetical principles. As far as being a story about a bonsai tree, well it is a little stunted, what would Michener have done?
An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps good for exposition.

Yeah, def looks like poetry

Let me throw something out to you

An experiment; perfect
in its execution; perhaps
good for exposition.

What I am hearing:
An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps
good for exposition.

Upsets the visual balance

An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps, good for exposition.

How does it feel with the extra comma?

See, poets have to worry about this shit, much more than authours, ya know, cause poetry is so tiny.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:06 PM   #12
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It probably won't sound very good, but I write for myself. Of course I stop to think how people are going to receive what I'm writing, and I'd think twice about what I share. I've even pulled a poem down before, for thinking it was too "raw". However, I mostly do live writes, and those are what they are, they come in the moment, so I can't be too picky. What I do think a lot about is whether what I'm writing will make any sense to others (and I feel that, too often, it doesn't).
Now, this is going to sound a little strange, a poem has to make sense to itself. What makes sense to others is not necessarily sense (logic), this takes practice.
Already I see a quandary for you, butters recommends rewording the last three lines, I like them.
Three (?) objected to envelope - if 3 object (from varying styles), you better have an overriding reason to keep it. I mentioning this, not for you, but because it needs to be said over and over again.
Now about the live writes, fine- raw material, however, just about every poet here will tell you the trick is in the edit. Your work and your response's show structured thought, go though it with a fine tooth comb, every word, every comma. And even then you'll fuck up. Don't know anybody that hasn't.
I like this poem. It is original, big plus, doesn't overstate, another plus. 'sides if Desejo likes it, who am I to argue?
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:17 PM   #13
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Here's what I think, Tsotha.

What is best about your poem to me is that you used a metaphor, a bonsai tree, to represent a relationship and you sustained it across the poem. That is good.

You have a tone that seems brittle to me, an emotional distance from the subject that gives the reader an uncomfortable feeling. That is also very good. IMHO anytime you can make someone feel actual emotion as they read, you are on the right track.

So now that you know what you have working for you, let's look at how well the language you chose supports it. Is everything the narrator asserts in the poem true of both a bonsai tree and the relationship in question? If yes, good. If not, well you don't want to get a fact about the actual tree wrong because if a reader catches it, it'll ruin the poem for them. So you might have to do some reading to make sure you're accurate. Another way of putting this is that if something in a poem is factually inaccurate you want it to be that way for a reason, not just a mistake.

Then you need to look at what every word, every line break and every piece of punctuation is doing for the poem. If it is helping the poem it should be there and if it isn't, then it needs to either be removed or changed.

Someone once told me to write a poem and come back to it and take five words away and continue doing that until I could take nothing more away without destroying the essence of the poem. It's a good exercise.

There are things I'd do differently in your poem but then it would be my poem. Like 12 said, when you work with poems you work on a tiny scale as well as a big thematic one. An off word or piece of punctuation or spacing in a story probably won't make a big difference, but it can wreck a poem. You have to be mindful of each little piece of it.

Sorry if I went on too long. I'm just a smoldering vat of opinions sometimes.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:54 PM   #14
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You and me,
we are like a bonsai tree.
A pretty seed
reading GM and his suggestion, I kind of like the long E, however, think of how it could be read, kind of sounds like the witch from the wizard of oz, actually reading it a certain way, it sounds like one of mine
and that is scar ee
I wonder if Magneto's watching?
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Old 03-06-2014, 03:01 PM   #15
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Now, this is going to sound a little strange, a poem has to make sense to itself. What makes sense to others is not necessarily sense (logic), this takes practice.
Already I see a quandary for you, butters recommends rewording the last three lines, I like them.
Three (?) objected to envelope - if 3 object (from varying styles), you better have an overriding reason to keep it. I mentioning this, not for you, but because it needs to be said over and over again.
Now about the live writes, fine- raw material, however, just about every poet here will tell you the trick is in the edit. Your work and your response's show structured thought, go though it with a fine tooth comb, every word, every comma. And even then you'll fuck up. Don't know anybody that hasn't.
I like this poem. It is original, big plus, doesn't overstate, another plus. 'sides if Desejo likes it, who am I to argue?
interesting for an author to see how others think about their write, though, isn't it? essentially, the voice of the poem's the ultimate consideration. if anything we say gives the author pause for thought, all's good; the upshot might be they decide they like the original choices they opted for and, through this process, have a clearer view of why.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:47 PM   #16
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Good idea with "delicate", and again by noticing the strength of the bonsai. It's limited by external forces, but stubborn in its desire to grow.
this may be key to where to go with this
Indeed; I could probably use that idea to expand it into longer poem.

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Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
Let me throw something out to you

An experiment; perfect
in its execution; perhaps
good for exposition.
The way you've written it, above, a reader can "unroll" the lines and form more sentences than are initially visible.
It is an experiment,
An experiment which is perfect,
and it's perfect in its execution.
Is it perfect in its execution, perhaps?
Hm, perhaps it's good for exposition.
I tried doing that a few times, but without much success, I felt I'd confuse/annoy the reader...

Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
What I am hearing:
An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps
good for exposition.

Upsets the visual balance

An experiment,
perfect in its execution,
perhaps, good for exposition.

How does it feel with the extra comma?
I think that, the way you've written it, the "perhaps" (line 3) connects to the second line. So, the meaning becomes: "perfect in its execution, maybe; but nonetheless good for exposition." It changes the meaning, but it is a valid option.

You are showing me, by example, how changing line breaks and commas completely changes the meaning...

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Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
Now, this is going to sound a little strange, a poem has to make sense to itself. What makes sense to others is not necessarily sense (logic), this takes practice.
I thought my first poem during this 30 in 30 challenge was a very obscure, so I decided to ask butters (in a PM) what she could see in it.
Against your better judgment,
the levee broke.
With dark clouds overhead,
you kept on raining, until it was
time to weep and moan.
Now the water has spilled
and there is no place to go.
The entities here are the dark clouds, the rain, the spilling, the levee and the weep and moan, and I'm asking the reader to fill the blanks (what is the concrete meaning of rain, dark clouds, levee, etc.?). The only hint I'm giving the reader is: how can a person rain?

I feel that it is obscure because it's highly unlikely that anyone can reverse it and say with 100% confidence what those entities are in my original story (the story that served as inspiration to the poem). This is similar, I think, to your poem "I, the Shadow", where the reader must assign his own meaning to Shadow, Sun, and so on.

There is an internal logic to my poem. How good is that internal logic? Well, my hope is that, if you assign your own "characters" to the entities I've presented, you'll come up with a story which is similar to the one that I used as inspiration.

butters' guess was good, she came up with a story of her own. It wasn't the one I used as inspiration, but it was similar in mood and meaning. She found her own meaning, but it was close to my own.

Is this what you mean by "making sense to others, not necessarily sense (logic)"?

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Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
Now about the live writes, fine- raw material, however, just about every poet here will tell you the trick is in the edit. Your work and your response's show structured thought, go though it with a fine tooth comb, every word, every comma. And even then you'll fuck up. Don't know anybody that hasn't.
I've written plenty of poems that feel wrong to me. One example is today's 30 in 30 poem. I had an idea and I just went ahead and typed it down before going to work. In it, I'm talking about being sure about things. The inspiration was this very thread, actually (being sure that your poem can't be improved). This poem is preachy, not very poetic, the line breaks and choice of words raw, and so on, and so on. Basically, it's a mess, the very definition of something rushed. Not only do I see opportunities for improvement, reading it now, I feel I should trash it and start from scratch.

On the other hand, the bonsai poem is perhaps one of my better poems. The version I presented here felt right to me, it already was the result of me going through it with a comb. Before you all pointed out things that could be improved, I had no idea how to improve it.

This tells me that I need a better comb (I need to improve my editing skill).

I'm also mindful of butters' advice:

Quote:
Originally Posted by butters
you don't have to act on feedback; often it's offered with the best intention but misses the mark - other times it's spot-on, but we, as authors, aren't ready to listen (even if we think we are ).
Some of the suggestions given here feel very good to me, they are very aligned with what I feel is "right" for my poem. So aligned, in some cases, that I feel like slapping myself for not noticing those improvement opportunities. Others suggestions, not so much; I feel that they would change the poem in a way that would make it different from what I think is "right". And then, I have to read butters' advice again. Maybe what I think is right is wrong, and I'm a fool. (Yes, I know you didn't mean it like that, butters. Still, it's funnier this way. )

Of course, this is all very subjective, but it's a good idea to take the advice from the more experienced very, very seriously. I'm reluctant to throw away any advice, even those I disagree with (or perhaps, especially those).

Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
'sides if Desejo likes it, who am I to argue?
Hm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
Here's what I think, Tsotha.

What is best about your poem to me is that you used a metaphor, a bonsai tree, to represent a relationship and you sustained it across the poem. That is good.

You have a tone that seems brittle to me, an emotional distance from the subject that gives the reader an uncomfortable feeling. That is also very good. IMHO anytime you can make someone feel actual emotion as they read, you are on the right track.

So now that you know what you have working for you, let's look at how well the language you chose supports it. Is everything the narrator asserts in the poem true of both a bonsai tree and the relationship in question? If yes, good. If not, well you don't want to get a fact about the actual tree wrong because if a reader catches it, it'll ruin the poem for them. So you might have to do some reading to make sure you're accurate. Another way of putting this is that if something in a poem is factually inaccurate you want it to be that way for a reason, not just a mistake.
I'm not a specialist in bonsai, but I did stop to read about the subject before writing my poem ("research", if you will). Of course, I do not discard the possibility that something isn't as accurate as it could be. Yours is good advice; if not for this poem, certainly for my future ones. I can see how it's important to be accurate.

As for the metaphor being true of the relationship in question, it relates to what I was telling 1201, above. Every element here (the roots, the limbs, the trunk, the fruits) translates to something concrete in my "original story" (the story that I wrote a poem about). So, when I say something like: "roots grown too big, too starved", it is meant to represent something concrete, and it makes sense to me. My hope is that it makes some kind of sense to others, too. Perhaps they can't see the original story (I'd hope not!), but they should be able to understand what roots mean, in this context, and how it could become too big and too starved. If not, then either the metaphor is bad, or I have failed to convey its meaning.

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Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
Then you need to look at what every word, every line break and every piece of punctuation is doing for the poem. If it is helping the poem it should be there and if it isn't, then it needs to either be removed or changed.
Well... I wonder, could I have caught what bronzeage pointed out (about "envelope" being a bad choice of word) if I had looked at every word? Honestly, I doubt it; it was beyond my perception. I feel similarly about line breaks and punctuation; the criteria for improvement are subjective, and it already "feels" good to me.

Not trying to be a smart ass, or stubborn... It's just that, because it feels right, I can't change it without feeling like I'm making it worse, rather than improving it. It seems like I'm still lacking in my perception/sensibility for what makes a poem "better".

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Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
Someone once told me to write a poem and come back to it and take five words away and continue doing that until I could take nothing more away without destroying the essence of the poem. It's a good exercise.
Hmmm... That led me to thinking, another good exercise is to add five words, and continue doing that trying to keep the poem from sounding unnecessarily bloated.

No, seriously; take a look at butters' edit, above. It is very well done, very lean compared to my original version. But it reads completely different, in my opinion (not in its meaning, that was kept; just the pace). I wonder... If this were a thread about a poem by butters', and she were asking for suggestions... Would I perhaps have offered an edit with more words and more lines (that is, closer to my own poem in the original post)?

That is... I understand the idea of having no useless words / elements in a poem; but is less always better? Can't a poem use some padding, if only for pacing? Honest question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
There are things I'd do differently in your poem but then it would be my poem. Like 12 said, when you work with poems you work on a tiny scale as well as a big thematic one. An off word or piece of punctuation or spacing in a story probably won't make a big difference, but it can wreck a poem. You have to be mindful of each little piece of it.
Egads. That's a bit overwhelming, Ange.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
Sorry if I went on too long. I'm just a smoldering vat of opinions sometimes.
Can't be too long-winded for me, either. Thank you, I appreciate your comment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by twelveoone View Post
reading GM and his suggestion, I kind of like the long E, however, think of how it could be read, kind of sounds like the witch from the wizard of oz, actually reading it a certain way, it sounds like one of mine
and that is scar ee
I wonder if Magneto's watching?
Hmmm... Yeah, I like my long E, too. I wrote it that way, after all. Hahaha. Damn, improvement isn't straightforward.

About being scar ee, you're the one who said I was a doppelganger.

No, Magneto probably isn't watching. Xavier is the one with mind powers.

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Originally Posted by butters View Post
interesting for an author to see how others think about their write, though, isn't it? essentially, the voice of the poem's the ultimate consideration. if anything we say gives the author pause for thought, all's good; the upshot might be they decide they like the original choices they opted for and, through this process, have a clearer view of why.
Indeed. To be honest, I like how it reads in the original version. I do like your version, but at the same time it feels too short (for me), like it might be delivering more than a reader can absorb as he reads. This relates to what I was telling Angeline above, about padding. I wonder if this, the pace, is also part of my "voice", or just me being stubborn and not being ready to listen to good advice?
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Old 03-07-2014, 08:57 AM   #17
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Indeed. To be honest, I like how it reads in the original version. I do like your version, but at the same time it feels too short (for me), like it might be delivering more than a reader can absorb as he reads. This relates to what I was telling Angeline above, about padding. I wonder if this, the pace, is also part of my "voice", or just me being stubborn and not being ready to listen to good advice?
we're all on our own paths to 'better writing', tsotha, and all i can say is if it feels wrong, don't do it. you're no beginner, and our paths all twist and switch back on themselves, reminds me a bit of snakes and ladders! just keep questioning, thinking, and writing. nowt much else you can do, really! now throw me a six 'cos i want to stop one place ahead of the snake, sit and chat awhile, maybe learn something before slipping down a level again
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:12 AM   #18
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I feel that it is obscure because it's highly unlikely that anyone can reverse it and say with 100% confidence what those entities are in my original story (the story that served as inspiration to the poem). This is similar, I think, to your poem "I, the Shadow", where the reader must assign his own meaning to Shadow, Sun, and so on.

There is an internal logic to my poem. How good is that internal logic? Well, my hope is that, if you assign your own "characters" to the entities I've presented, you'll come up with a story which is similar to the one that I used as inspiration.

butters' guess was good, she came up with a story of her own. It wasn't the one I used as inspiration, but it was similar in mood and meaning. She found her own meaning, but it was close to my own.

Is this what you mean by "making sense to others, not necessarily sense (logic)"?



I've written plenty of poems that feel wrong to me. One example is today's 30 in 30 poem. I had an idea and I just went ahead and typed it down before going to work. In it, I'm talking about being sure about things. The inspiration was this very thread, actually (being sure that your poem can't be improved). This poem is preachy, not very poetic, the line breaks and choice of words raw, and so on, and so on. Basically, it's a mess, the very definition of something rushed. Not only do I see opportunities for improvement, reading it now, I feel I should trash it and start from scratch.

On the other hand, the bonsai poem is perhaps one of my better poems. The version I presented here felt right to me, it already was the result of me going through it with a comb. Before you all pointed out things that could be improved, I had no idea how to improve it.

This tells me that I need a better comb (I need to improve my editing skill).

I'm also mindful of butters' advice:



Some of the suggestions given here feel very good to me, they are very aligned with what I feel is "right" for my poem. So aligned, in some cases, that I feel like slapping myself for not noticing those improvement opportunities. Others suggestions, not so much; I feel that they would change the poem in a way that would make it different from what I think is "right". And then, I have to read butters' advice again. Maybe what I think is right is wrong, and I'm a fool. (Yes, I know you didn't mean it like that, butters. Still, it's funnier this way. )

Of course, this is all very subjective, but it's a good idea to take the advice from the more experienced very, very seriously. I'm reluctant to throw away any advice, even those I disagree with (or perhaps, especially those).



Hm.



I'm not a specialist in bonsai, but I did stop to read about the subject before writing my poem ("research", if you will). Of course, I do not discard the possibility that something isn't as accurate as it could be. Yours is good advice; if not for this poem, certainly for my future ones. I can see how it's important to be accurate.

As for the metaphor being true of the relationship in question, it relates to what I was telling 1201, above. Every element here (the roots, the limbs, the trunk, the fruits) translates to something concrete in my "original story" (the story that I wrote a poem about). So, when I say something like: "roots grown too big, too starved", it is meant to represent something concrete, and it makes sense to me. My hope is that it makes some kind of sense to others, too. Perhaps they can't see the original story (I'd hope not!), but they should be able to understand what roots mean, in this context, and how it could become too big and too starved. If not, then either the metaphor is bad, or I have failed to convey its meaning.



Well... I wonder, could I have caught what bronzeage pointed out (about "envelope" being a bad choice of word) if I had looked at every word? Honestly, I doubt it; it was beyond my perception. I feel similarly about line breaks and punctuation; the criteria for improvement are subjective, and it already "feels" good to me.

Not trying to be a smart ass, or stubborn... It's just that, because it feels right, I can't change it without feeling like I'm making it worse, rather than improving it. It seems like I'm still lacking in my perception/sensibility for what makes a poem "better".



Hmmm... That led me to thinking, another good exercise is to add five words, and continue doing that trying to keep the poem from sounding unnecessarily bloated.

No, seriously; take a look at butters' edit, above. It is very well done, very lean compared to my original version. But it reads completely different, in my opinion (not in its meaning, that was kept; just the pace). I wonder... If this were a thread about a poem by butters', and she were asking for suggestions... Would I perhaps have offered an edit with more words and more lines (that is, closer to my own poem in the original post)?

That is... I understand the idea of having no useless words / elements in a poem; but is less always better? Can't a poem use some padding, if only for pacing? Honest question.



Egads. That's a bit overwhelming, Ange.



Can't be too long-winded for me, either. Thank you, I appreciate your comment.



Hmmm... Yeah, I like my long E, too. I wrote it that way, after all. Hahaha. Damn, improvement isn't straightforward.

About being scar ee, you're the one who said I was a doppelganger.

No, Magneto probably isn't watching. Xavier is the one with mind powers.



Indeed. To be honest, I like how it reads in the original version. I do like your version, but at the same time it feels too short (for me), like it might be delivering more than a reader can absorb as he reads. This relates to what I was telling Angeline above, about padding. I wonder if this, the pace, is also part of my "voice", or just me being stubborn and not being ready to listen to good advice?
A few words, Magneto should have been watching, as should every newb that walks in the door. This is never a matter of who is right or wrong, the authour always is, here you consider the opinion of what is thankfully diverse, with overlap on what is probably good. The people that weighed in mentioned specifics and a degree of disagreement and have a track record of sorts. You consider, you doand I realize I am paraphasing or saying the same thing that at least two others have.
Here is where I diverge, regarding obscurity and or riddles, the poem is the priority, it overrides the audience concern, which if I may point out at least six or seven people "got"; the general audience will contain at least one person with a hair up his ass about bonsai trees, perhaps because of some unfortunate sexual incident - but you can't account for that. In this little love triangle of writer, poem, audience, ah wots in the middle, in the key position, now does that sound like pandering?
You write 'em, you THINK about 'em, if a certain part of the audience doesn't want to THINK, fuck 'em. I don't know why they even bother reading when the internet is so full of pictures.
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:22 AM   #19
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A few words...

You write 'em, you THINK about 'em, if a certain part of the audience doesn't want to THINK, fuck 'em. I don't know why they even bother reading when the internet is so full of pictures.
*laughs*
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:27 AM   #20
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*laughs*
what you didn't like the sexual incident with the bonsai tree after I had to explain about corncobs
I gotta get a better audience.
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:28 AM   #21
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what you didn't like the sexual incident with the bonsai tree after I had to explain about corncobs
I gotta get a better audience.
*whispers* splinters....
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:52 AM   #22
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*whispers* splinters....
splinters my ass

Whoops gave that one away
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:01 AM   #23
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splinters my ass

Whoops gave that one away
first time for everything; some say never give away what you can charge for but i call them bitches mercenary
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:08 AM   #24
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first time for everything; some say never give away what you can charge for but i call them bitches mercenary
Egads.
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:14 AM   #25
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twelveoone is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5,707
Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
first time for everything; some say never give away what you can charge for but i call them bitches mercenary
we should do comedy
first we have to decide who get's to sit on who's lap and be the dummy

somehow if you sit on my lap, I may be prone to do something stupid

which when you think about it, is kind of creepy

but as the Royal families always said

Incest is Golden
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