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Old 05-15-2016, 09:18 AM   #1
legerdemer
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Double Blind 2 - the poems and critiques only

K, folks - welcome to DB2. Every poem will get roughly 48 hours of time in the sun, so to speak. Give your critiques on this thread as well, with random commentary on the other one. If you wish to guess who may have written a particular poem, add that to your critique. You know what to do.

Instructions from greenmountaineer's original challenge:

Important: You do not have to submit a poem in order to provide feedback. In fact, the more feedback there is the better the challenge will be.

Note to submitters: If you're looking specific feedback, feel free to say so.

If at any time someone wants to add a poem to the mix, that's not a problem. Just send a pm to me.

If this challenge works, there may be a few take aways for us to become better writers.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:19 AM   #2
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You Asked

Once upon a time, when we were not so old,
I told you what I thought I should,
about how much I wanted you, without
a thought of who might get hurt.

I told you what I thought I should
when you asked. Did you even have
a thought of who might get hurt
by what we were about to let happen?

When you asked, did you even have
a clue how much we would be defined
by what we were about to let happen?
Grasping so little what it really meant,

No clue how much we would be defined,
about how much I wanted you, without
grasping so little what it really meant.
once upon a time, when we were not so old.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:55 AM   #3
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I like the message in the piece, there is a nice longing and poignancy but for me the form is in the way of what the piece is trying to say. some forms help to underscore and enhance a write, for me the repeated stanzas just add to my frustration in that by looping it avoids the expansion to come to some form of clear message instead of the same thing on repeat.

I think the piece is a pantoum?
in my opinion the best pantoums have a really strong swinging line that can be digested multiple times, to me the swigning lines lack enough to help, so they stilt the read.

the "once upon a time" I think fails as a start line it takes away the voracity and seriousness within the piece. It does in my opinion work as a close.
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Old 05-15-2016, 10:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todski28 View Post
I like the message in the piece, there is a nice longing and poignancy but for me the form is in the way of what the piece is trying to say. some forms help to underscore and enhance a write, for me the repeated stanzas just add to my frustration in that by looping it avoids the expansion to come to some form of clear message instead of the same thing on repeat.

I think the piece is a pantoum?
in my opinion the best pantoums have a really strong swinging line that can be digested multiple times, to me the swigning lines lack enough to help, so they stilt the read.

the "once upon a time" I think fails as a start line it takes away the voracity and seriousness within the piece. It does in my opinion work as a close.
What he said.

I feel like I'm tumbling in a laundry dryer. Oh, here are those pants again. Meanwhile, the socks disappeared.

But I've also never attempted a Pantoum before. I suppose I should try my hand at one to understand what it is capable of.
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:00 AM   #5
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You moved to a new thread
originally, I was bothered by the first line
"Once upon a time, when we were not so old,"
wanting to change I to...
"Once upon a time, when not so old,"
then I discovered it was written to a funky form and no amount of editing would ever help it, :end critique:
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Once upon a time, when we were not so old,
I told you what I thought I should,
about how much I wanted you, without
a thought of who might get hurt.

when you asked. Did you even have

by what we were about to let happen?

a clue how much we would be defined

Grasping so little what it really meant,
Quote:
Once upon a time, when we were not so old,
I told you what I thought I should,
when you asked.
about how much I wanted you, without
a thought of who might get hurt.

Grasping so little what it really meant,
Did you even have
a clue how much we would be defined
by what we were about to let happen?
It's definitely easier to get a sense of what is going on when you unpantoumize it.

I feel there could be an injection of some closure in the form of acceptance of what happened.

Or .... an injection of consequence, which might involve more info about the 3rd party that suffered harm.

Otherwise, as is it is :

I didn't have a clue.
You didn't have a clue.
We didn't have a clue.
The End.
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Old 05-15-2016, 01:22 PM   #7
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A Pantoum about emotion is tricky because the form is pretty rigid which makes it difficult to convey feelings in an engaging way. The form requires the lines to be woven in such a way that it easy to weaken the meaning and passion, even so it does come across in this poem. The final strophe is the weakest but only because of the constraints. This poem is begging for the freedom of free form.
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Old 05-15-2016, 02:41 PM   #8
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I am glad others pointed out what form it is. I could tell it is one, but not which. Coming back to it, I'm not sure it really matters which.

I agree that in this case the form really seems to get in the way of the lyricism of the poem and what it tries to get across. It may be fixable but without trying to rewrite it entirely (which I'm sure the poet wouldn't want), I can't offer much.

The cautionary question - moral? it's not entirely clear - being asked came through for me in the poem as it stands, but left me wanting to understand more: why is there a problem? what are the consequences? I think addressing these questions in the poem would make it more accessible - as it stands, the poem keeps me at a long arm's length: I hear there is a problem, that it is between two people presumably in love, that they have a dilemma... but that's it.

Too much Vaseline on the window pane, in my humble opinion.
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:18 PM   #9
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"Once upon a time, when we were not so old" isn't a strong line to start IMO. It suggests a more innocent time, even navet, which conveys an effective beginning image, even as a clich, but then the poet goes on in the same line to explain that neither of them then were very old. For me, that felt redundant. "Once upon a time" already suggests something long ago.

If the pronouns are to be kept(a poetry professor whose name I forget wrote a book suggested they were mostly "non-words" to be used sparingly), I'd insert a personal noun at least to convey other than just "you." For example, "I told you, Paul, what I thought I should.." It doesn't matter what the name is. The idea is to frame something personal. This is, after all, a very personal moment. Maybe there's a Paul or a Paula in the reader's mind. In my case, it was Donna.

"when you asked" needs more. "when you had to ask" says more, maybe not what the poet intended, but "when you asked" doesn't get me curious about why he's asking in the first place. "when you had to ask" gets me thinking about why he asked in the first place.

I think it would be a stronger choice with "make" rather than "let happen." I'm assuming the "what" in the line is sexual union or some other intensely personal manifestation of love (e.g., getting married, deciding to have a child, etc.). One "makes" love.

This has possibilitiies. My suggestion is to make this as intensly personal as is possible between two people. It's not there yet in my imagination.

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Old 05-15-2016, 05:44 PM   #10
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A pantoum is not a bad form: if the repeated line is strong and well-differentiated from the lines surrounding it, it'll ring out like a bell and give the whole poem an elegiac tone. This pantoum has a number of issues imo, the first being (as GM pointed out) the repeating line is weak. It also is not well-differentiated from the lines around it. That points to the biggest issue overall, which is that the whole poem is too general in nature. I'm not sure why people write poems that are unspecific (you have to be open, bold and honest if you want a really good poem!), but the effect: excess of pronouns and not enough nouns, weak verbs and/or passive constructions, repeating words (this can become a real problem, creating confusion, when you are subbing pronouns for nouns) all provide a weak narrative for the reader. Even the best imagination needs more that "he" "she" or "it" to conjure meaning. How do I know whether I'm reading a love story or a murder mystery? It could be either! Or both!

I think there is a story in this poem and I'm sure it's a good one. If it were my poem, I'd go back and replace as many pronouns with nouns as possible and make sure all the verbs are strong ones that convey image and action.
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Old 05-15-2016, 07:26 PM   #11
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I may be swimming against the current here, but here are my initial reactions: I generally find pantoums or other forms with repeating lines to be annoying, but here it sort of works for me. I also find that the opening line "when we were not so old" works for me, for the following reason: the bunny seems to be that both parties to the poem's one-sided dialog went into their affair with eyes open, yet are acting shocked, shocked because they have discovered, as the saying goes, that "it's complicated." So the "once upon a time" line is really ironic; who is kidding whom? The repeating lines seem to deepen the irony.
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Old 05-17-2016, 05:43 AM   #12
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I appreciate attempts at forms like this, because I haven't been very successful in working one out in my very few attempts. That said, I agree with the others that the piece isn't quite working within the form. I'm getting a message, though I'm not sure it's the one intended, but not much feeling.


In the first section, the narrator states that they gave no thought to anyone who might get hurt.

In the second section, when the narrator is asking the other if they "even had a thought" for anyone else, that 'even' gives the entire poem an accusatory tone for me, but I'm not sure if that's the intended effect. Given that the narrator has already admitted to their own thoughtlessness, why the upset at the thoughtlessness of the other? Because they asked the question? This is what I'm left wondering.


My general interpretation of the piece reads like this: I was thoughtless and clueless. How could you be so thoughtless and clueless?

For me, it hinges on the "even". Without that, it would read: I was thoughtless and clueless. Were you as thoughtless and clueless as I? My goodness, we were young.


Another bit that's not quite working for me is "what we were about to let happen." It's too passive. It was something they were about to do, something within their control, in spite of being clueless and thoughtless.


A little thing: 'Once' should be capitalized in the last line.
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:23 AM   #13
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#2 - De-composing

Such beauty l see
beyond the surface scuffs
character still defined though withered looks
Intricate lattice work missing a piece or two
adorn this no longer grand piano where
once ebony and ivory lay next to each other in perfect harmony
neglect has made them lose their melody
somewhere along their passage of time
tone dampened
tuneless
no longer capable of keeping up with the beat
of the metronome
shrivelled parchment
off which music once would leap
notes long faded into the silence of the night
woodworm feasted on Chopin and firewood
the day the music died
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:54 AM   #14
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#2

De-composing

Such beauty l see
beyond the surface scuffs
character still defined though withered looks
Intricate lattice work missing a piece or two
adorns this no longer grand piano where
ebony and ivory once lying [next to each other] in perfect harmony <- harmony already implies togetherness
have lost their melody due to neglect
somewhere along the passage of time

tone dampened
tuneless
no longer capable of keeping [up with the beat of] the metronome's beat

shriveled parchment
off which music once [would] leapt
notes long faded into [the] silence of the night
woodworm feasted on Chopin and firewood
that day the music died



My changes or words re-arranged in bold
Words that could be trimmed out in [brackets]
My commentary in italics

I felt this was easier to rewrite given that it only needed tense corrections and minor edits.

Spaces added to put emphasize shifting train of thought.

Now, the good news.

The title is brilliant.
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Old 05-17-2016, 10:48 AM   #15
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This is a lovely little poem, and yes, the title is absolutely brilliant!

Quote:
Originally Posted by legerdemer View Post
Such beauty l see
beyond the surface scuffs
character still defined though withered looks
Intricate lattice work missing a piece or two
adorn this no longer grand piano where
once ebony and ivory lay next to each other in perfect harmony
neglect has made them lose their melody
somewhere along their passage of time
tone dampened
tuneless
no longer capable of keeping up with the beat
of the metronome
shrivelled parchment
off which music once would leap
notes long faded into the silence of the night
woodworm feasted on Chopin and firewood
the day the music died

I will also use Mags' conventions. I both agree and disagree with him (gotta keep things interesting):


Such beauty l see
beyond the surface scuffs
character still defined though withered looks -> 'looks' is too general and kinda blah here; how about through withered wood?

Intricate lattice work missing a piece or two
adorns this no longer grand piano where
ebony and ivory once lay in perfect harmony -> I agree with Mags that 'next to each other' is unnecessary and detracts

tuneless
tone deaf

no longer [cap]able [of] to keep[ing up with] the beat -> again a suggested deletion
of the metronome
music would once leap
from the shriveled
parchment
notes long faded into the silent [ce of the] night -> a possible allusion?
woodworm feasted on Chopin and firewood
the day the music died


The cleaned up version with my suggestions, many taken from Mags, would look like this:

De-composing

Intricate lattice work missing a piece or two
adorns this no longer grand piano where
ebony and ivory once lay in perfect harmony

tuneless
tone deaf
no longer able to keep the beat
[of the metronome]

music would once leap
from the shriveled parchment
notes long faded into the silent night
woodworm feasted on Chopin and firewood
the day the music died

In edits, I added the extra lines Mags suggested - I agree with his reasoning.
And one more - I'm thinking "of the metronome' is unnecessary.
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Old 05-17-2016, 11:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legerdemer View Post
In edits, I added the extra lines Mags suggested - I agree with his reasoning.
And one more - I'm thinking "of the metronome' is unnecessary.
Ah, but if you remove the line regarding neglect, you might want to consider leaving in the metronome if only to emphasize that the piano has been weathered in the time ticked away.
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Old 05-17-2016, 11:07 AM   #17
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the ebony and ivory line, stolen, if twelve were here he'd be screaming,
also, day the music died makes me want to drive my chevy to the levy and jump in
do agree on the title
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Old 05-17-2016, 11:56 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryHill View Post
the ebony and ivory line, stolen, if twelve were here he'd be screaming,
also, day the music died makes me want to drive my chevy to the levy and jump in
do agree on the title
I agree. A piano is a piano, of course, but....

except for those two images, it was a well crafted allegory for life as we age. The Chopin allusion was neat. We're here to make beautiful music.

However, I kept thinking about Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and racial harmony, and that weakened the poem for me as did the Don Mclean reference, which makes me think about the loss of innocence. There's nothing wrong with either of those, but they don't fit here IMO.

I do think the idea in the last line should, in fact, remain because it's coherent with the images that precede it, but it needs re-wording to avoid the reference to the pop song.

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Old 05-17-2016, 12:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnetron View Post

The title is brilliant.
But unoriginal.

I am also annoyed by poems that quote pop song lyrics ("ebony and ivory", "the day the music died") -- it seems banal to me, but then, I'm cantakerous.
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Old 05-17-2016, 12:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legerdemer View Post
music would once leap
from the shriveled parchment
How aboot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnet Ron
music once leapt
from now shriveled parchment
But I do agree with your edit more than my original edit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnet Ron
shriveled parchment
off which music once leapt
because the emphasis should be more on the music that came from the piano than the focus be on the antiquated music sheets.
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Old 05-17-2016, 01:37 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
But unoriginal.

I am also annoyed by poems that quote pop song lyrics ("ebony and ivory", "the day the music died") -- it seems banal to me, but then, I'm cantakerous.
You're not the only one. That last line, especially, put the song American Pie in my head immediately and that is not what I assume the author wants. I finish thinking about Buddy Holly instead of the overall theme of the poem.

Haven't read it enough times to comment more than that, but last lines are really important and that one makes for a weak ending imo.

Oh and I agree with Mags and Mer about "leapt," and "from." That whole line though is still kinda awkward to me.
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Old 05-17-2016, 04:22 PM   #22
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I like the diction of "Decomposing." The words and their order sound particularly good to my mind's ear as I read it. This I like very much:

no longer capable of keeping up with the beat
of the metronome
shrivelled parchment
off which music once would leap


It makes me think of the heart and how aging skin appears. I might have added "yellow" to the parchment as well.
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Old 05-17-2016, 05:25 PM   #23
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Perhaps just fudging with the words and the order of words can help dispel the unwanted associations.

Quote:
once ebony and ivory lay next to each other in perfect harmony
once ivory and ebony in harmony perfect

or

once ivory and ebony in harmonious perfection

or or

once ivory and ebony in interracial harmony

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmountaineer
It makes me think of the heart and how aging skin appears. I might have added "yellow" to the parchment as well.
Yeah, baby.

Let's make this a black on white rhyme crime.
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:23 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnetron View Post
Perhaps just fudging with the words and the order of words can help dispel the unwanted associations.
Chop, nope... 88 ebony and ivory keys 86'd
I wand blue and pink keys
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:19 AM   #25
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#3 The Turning

A sunken belly revelation
Mockery within the flock
Minister Ryan reaching into his robe
retrieving his mighty righteous
condemnation

In the houses of the holy
salvation awaits even the lowly rapist
Grit my teeth
clench my fist
His sinister actions
my consequence

Let peoples across the nation
under steeples praise Jesus and rejoice
all the while I remain choker chained
larynx strained without a voice
pained from my most difficult choice

Leper in the houses of the holy
I am
now the blackened sheep of the family
who only mourn for one little silenced lamb
I refused to carry

Fucked over once again
Oh, how quickly temple tables turn
I spoiled your child
Don't spare me your rod
Ryan, this time make it really burn

Standing on trial here today
in this Witness chair
on the Bible I do solemnly swear to
turn my back on God
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