Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

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1lankest
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Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

Post by 1lankest » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:02 am

You notice them, I see, trained to each other’s movements, creeping
through burial caves like ivy. We follow, glued, observing their reactions

the delicacies of motion by which they illuminate grottoes, temples, shadowy
groves of a citrus garden. Her flinch, his giggle at a passing gecko.

Synchronised gasps under a carob tree - The Sea! They pause here, but only
once before the Telamon do they linger, until the time for turning’s signalled

by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, open, outheld.

Original

You notice them, I see, trained to each other’s movements, creeping
through burial caves like ivy. We follow, glued, observing their reactions,
the delicacies of motion by which they illuminate grottoes, temples,
shadowy groves of a citrus garden. Her flinch, his giggle at a passing gecko.
Synchronised gasps under a carob tree - The Sea! They pause here, but only once
before the Telamon do they linger for longer, until the time for turning’s
signalled by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, open, outheld.
Last edited by 1lankest on Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Perry
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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento

Post by Perry » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:46 am

1lankest wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:02 am
You notice them, I see, trained to each other’s movements, creeping
through burial caves like ivy. We follow, glued, observing their reactions,
the delicacies of motion by which they illuminate grottoes, temples,
shadowy groves of a citrus garden. Her flinch, his giggle at a passing gecko.
Synchronised gasps under a carob tree - The Sea! They pause here, but only once
before the Telamon do they linger for longer, until the time for turning’s
signalled by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, open, outheld.
There is a lot that I like about this poem. It seems that the narrator and wife are vacationing in Agrigento, Italy, and they become entranced by the behavior of an elderly man/wife pair who are also vacationing. There is a great deal of lovely warmth in this poem. Perhaps I'm saying that because I recently saw a documentary on an elderly Japanese couple who were madly in love, and it left an impression on me. There is good movement in this poem. I can feel the one couple focussing on and fascinated by the older couple. Although it isn't stated in the poem, you can sense the narrator wondering if he and his wife will share such harmony at that age. (Perhaps you should actually say something like that in the poem.)

I don't like the long lines -- or is this meant to be a prose poem? That's my prejudice, however -- I abhor the prose poem format.

Instead of opening with the words you chose, I would suggest "You have noticed them too, I see, ..." -- that would set the scene more clearly.

I think the final two words could be replaced with something more poignant. This popped into my head: "They swivel in unison as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, reaching for her."

Telamon -- there's a new word for me. The poets here love to use obscure words, but it works in this poem.

Very nice, very heart-warming.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento

Post by churinga » Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:23 pm

Hi Luke

creeping through burial caves like ivy.
'ivy' creeps but we don't see it's movement. It still works but with reservations.

We follow, glued, observing their reactions,
'glued' seems too close to 'followed' so it seems you are 'glued' physically when the idea is your gaze is glued on them. I think this could be better put.

the delicacies of motion
This is fine.

by which they illuminate grottoes, temples,
'illuminate' seems odd, as if they are carrying torches.

Her flinch, his giggle at a passing gecko.
Like this.

Synchronised gasps under a carob tree
Also good.

- The Sea! They pause here, but only once
This is where a normal lined poem would give emphasis to 'The Sea'...

before the Telamon do they linger for longer, until the time for turning’s
'linger for longer' is almost comic, linger longer is too cute, too cheesy. 'Time for turning's is also a bit cheesy.

signalled by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
as his hand seeks hers,
This is very fine, I love the sonics, the feeling.

where it’s always been, open, outheld.
'always been' seems hyperbole. I think you need to rephrase this last line.

It resonated with me, maybe experiment with a lined format, see if it brings more ideas into play.

kind regards

Ross

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:21 pm

.
Hi Luke,
enjoyed the read/tour,
but not convinced by the form either.


You notice them, I see, trained to each other’s movements, creeping
- 'creeping' seems an off note, why not 'winding'? (Like the 'trained' , 'ivy' thread)
Think Perry has a point about 'too'.
through burial caves like ivy. We follow, glued, observing their reactions,
- 'observing their reactions' seems a bit 'dry/scientific' and offers no real explanation
for 'your' motivation.
the delicacies of motion by which they illuminate grottoes, temples,
- not sure about 'illuminate' either.
shadowy groves of a citrus garden. Her flinch, his giggle at a passing gecko.
- Bit ambiguous, is he giggling at the gecko or her?
(Her flinch, his giggle, [just] a passing gecko)
Synchronised gasps under a carob tree - The Sea! They pause here, but only once
- likewise 'synchronised' is also technical, why not 'gasping in unison...' ?
'pause' without some further description doesn't engage as much as it might, I think.
before the Telamon do they linger for longer, until the time for turning’s
- 'time for turning' (I agree with Ross on the overcooked alliteration) doesn't offer much.
Is this the ruined/unfinished temple?
signalled by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
- I'd prefer 'turn together' to 'swivel in unison' (too many esses)
as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, open, outheld.
- agree about 'where it's always been', maybe
as his hand [finds] hers: open, outheld.


Regards, Not.


.

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento

Post by Ros » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:37 pm

I like it, and don't have any strong suggestions. I think it's very effective.
I'd be tempted, perhaps, to leave the lines long but go for 7 strong stresses per line.

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento

Post by bjondon » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:38 pm

Hi Luke, really enjoyed - your usual word perfect, life affirming signature, enclosing/ inviting the reader in.
The paragraph/postcard form seems to work, a gentle balance of concision and meander.

Only quibbles - 'ivy' - overstretching the metaphor
'linger for longer' - nuff said
and the last line is a bit cheesy. You could end well on the kiss, though I quite like 'They swivel in unison' - The whole
is a sort of mirroring of the N+1 couple, so that last turn reinforces it, maybe just adds a hint of jeopardy
that they have been caught staring.
I read the opening construction as the N seeing first his partner's animated interest, then catching
on to this game of couple watching, projecting themselves into a possible future
The slightly scientific language is teasing, almost self-parodic. Altogether very romantic.

Jules

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento

Post by 1lankest » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:22 am

Ross, Perry, Ros, Jules, Not - thanks for your helpful feedback.

I’m really sorry I don’t have time for more detailed, personal replies. I assure I take everything you mention on board. I want to leave this one as much as possible and go with my instinct. I think too often on here I allow the will to please to blur my instincts. If I’m ever to get poems published (not that that’s why I write) I need to trust my internal voice more than I do currently.

Having said that this place is a god send and your readership is hugely valuable to me.

Revision posted - I’ve tried to make the metre more regular, as Ros suggested, and I’ve given it some white space.

Luke

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

Post by Perry » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:19 am

1lankest wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:02 am
You notice them, I see, trained to each other’s movements, creeping
through burial caves like ivy. We follow, glued, observing their reactions

the delicacies of motion by which they illuminate grottoes, temples, shadowy
groves of a citrus garden. Her flinch, his giggle at a passing gecko.

Synchronised gasps under a carob tree - The Sea! They pause here, but only
once before the Telamon do they linger, until the time for turning’s signalled

by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, open, outheld.
I'm pleased to see that you haven't changed the poem that much. However, I still have big problems with "You notice them" -- I think it isn't clear, and feel strongly that it isn't good to open a poem with a vague line. In my first comment, I recommended the language "You have noticed them too". If you don't like that, then let me strongly suggest that you at least throw in the word "too" to clarify the line: "You notice them too, I see".

For the ending, I recommended that you replace "open, outheld" with "reaching for her". I felt that would be more poignant, but there is another reason. Your ending reminds me of Keat's ending to "This Living Hand": "see, here it is — I hold it towards you" (the "it" being his hand). I guess I just feel that "open, outheld" has been said before, not just by Keats, but in other places. Here is another suggestion: "outheld to her".

However, if you don't change anything, it is still a fine poem, with warm feelings well expressed.

The couplets are an improvement. The poem needed some white space to make it breathe.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

Post by JJWilliamson » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:31 pm

I like the subtle revisions very much, Luke, and enjoyed the journey.
I also enjoyed the thread and the very thoughtful suggestions made by all.

The couplets, particularly, are a big improvement, as they guide the reader,
step by step, through the poem. I actually quite liked the close but I'm a big
soft so and so. :)
1lankest wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:02 am
You notice them, I see, trained to each other’s movements, creeping
through burial caves like ivy. We follow, glued, observing their reactions

the delicacies of motion by which they illuminate grottoes, temples, shadowy ...I'm assuming 'illuminate' is used in the context of "improve" or "enhance". IE the day was illuminated by their presence.
groves of a citrus garden. Her flinch, his giggle at a passing gecko.

Synchronised gasps under a carob tree - The Sea! They pause here, but only
once before the Telamon do they linger, until the time for turning’s signalled

by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, open, outheld. ...Very nice.

A beautiful moment, well caught. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Best

JJ

Original

You notice them, I see, trained to each other’s movements, creeping
through burial caves like ivy. We follow, glued, observing their reactions,
the delicacies of motion by which they illuminate grottoes, temples,
shadowy groves of a citrus garden. Her flinch, his giggle at a passing gecko.
Synchronised gasps under a carob tree - The Sea! They pause here, but only once
before the Telamon do they linger for longer, until the time for turning’s
signalled by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, open, outheld.
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:19 pm

.
Like the new layout Luke.
My only thought is whether you need the last two words?
(Ending on 'always been' seems a bit stronger.)

Regards, Not.

PS. Not a crit, but a question. Did the couple (being Japanese)
actually say 'The Sea!'?


.

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

Post by 1lankest » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:53 am

Thanks for returning, Perry. Surely it’s implied that the narrator has also noticed them by virtue of the fact he’s noticed his partner noticing!?

Cheers jj, glad I’m not the only soppy bugger around!

Not, ta. I think I agree about the last two words. Perhaps they should go. It would get Perry’s vote, too.

L

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

Post by Perry » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:22 pm

1lankest wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:53 am
Thanks for returning, Perry. Surely it’s implied that the narrator has also noticed them by virtue of the fact he’s noticed his partner noticing!?
Opening with "You notice them" is vague. Who is "you"? But adding "too" immediately clues the reader that the narrator is speaking to a companion, and that together they have noticed other people who are odd or unusual -- yes, the "too" does all that. I remember the first time I read it, I didn't understand that "you" was part of a couple until I got to "We follow", and I remember feeling irritated. When I got to "We follow", I jumped back to the beginning and started over again. Even after I figured it out, I felt a moment of confusion the next time I read it -- I had to remind myself that I had already figured out that there was a couple involved.

Writing clearly is hugely important to me, so that's my prejudice, but I honestly believe that making one's poetry accessible is important. Some poems are meant to be obscure, but this isn't one of them, so I don't see why adding "too" should be such an issue. It's not like the poem is metered or anything; you aren't counting syllables.

Now, with these lines, I realize there is an additional problem:

by the rising breeze, a kiss of silk on skin. They swivel in unison
as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, open, outheld.

You already know that I don't think "open, outheld" is particularly poignant, but it is also wrong in a fundamental sense. Where has the man's hand always been? Not reaching for her, but holding her hand -- do you see? Obviously, they are a longtime couple, so symbolically their hands are already joined. Consequently, I now recommend something like this for the final line:

as his hand seeks hers, where it’s always been, holding the hand he loves.

or something like that.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

Post by Macavity » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:20 pm

Hi Luke,
Read this a few times over the last couple of days and, like Ros, don't feel prompted to suggest changes. The poem is an expression of your voice and aesthetic, which I have come to appreciate. The change you have made, in terms of format, does enhance the read. I was engaged by the observers and the observed. The latter giving context to the former ( the picture of a lasting relationship). There is unison in the observers that I read as a positive.

muchly enjoyed

mac

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Re: Elderly Japanese couple, Agrigento (revised)

Post by 1lankest » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:09 pm

Thanks a lot for your detailed response, Perry. I see what your saying but I stand by my instincts on this one: the ‘me too’ is implied and, despite what you say, it is metrical and thus it does impact negatively.

Again, thanks so much for your detailed reading of this, Perry.

Mac, thanks a lot. Glad you like it.

L

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