Bouquet Garni (Was April)

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1lankest
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Bouquet Garni (Was April)

Post by 1lankest » Wed Apr 29, 2020 8:34 pm

Version 2

This month: rosemary and bay
wrapped in a ten pound note,
positioned on a bed of holly
in the centre
of the barbecue drum.
It takes easily
for lack of rain;
flames dance, linger
in the mirror
of our daughter's eyes -
It is late evening,
her first winter baptism
of floodwater, contagion,
drought.

Patterns emerge
in the resting embers;
a prophecy, you fear,
a ring of berries
dilating, contracting
with the pyre’s pulse.
I’d ask you not to speculate,
to trace her future in ash
or in the line of smoke
striking out into stillness.

Original

This month we make an offering:
a twenty pound note
secured with pebbles
in the barbecue drum,
garlanded by birch twigs,
holly. Flames the greens
of our daughter’s eyes
don’t burn for long
in the late evening
of this her first winter
baptism of floodwater,
contagion -
Soon
patterns emerge
in the resting configuration of embers,
a prophecy, you fear;
a ring of berries
dilating, contracting
with the pyre’s pulse.
I’d ask you not to speculate,
to trace her future in ash
or in the line of smoke
striking out into stillness
unwavering, unready
for the breath rising
from the rasping bronchioles
of the sea.
Last edited by 1lankest on Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Macavity
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Re: April

Post by Macavity » Thu Apr 30, 2020 5:18 am

I'm getting a mental block on that burning twenty pound note Luke :shock: Perhaps you could replace it with a poem :D Perhaps money is worthless in the situation, and desperation has forced the action. I once visited a Hindu temple and there were all kinds of offerings...including a bottle of Worcester sauce!

That aside, I do like the sacrifice/offering element...the pyre’s pulse is excellent. I had a sense of denial as well as fear...whether the prognosis came from science or otherwise...fear rather than renewal for our spring/future.

Does bronchioles bring science/medical elements into the pagan set-up or is this a hint at the condition/contagion?

enjoyed

mac

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Re: April

Post by JJWilliamson » Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:37 am

So much to like, Luke, and I'll try to offer more later.
Initially, I enjoyed the sacrificial aspects, as if they were a last resort,
and a fear for the future. The twenty pound note was intriguing and the entire
opening section acted as a super hook.

Later on I saw a worried parent considering the daughter's future in a world
full of potential danger, as if she had no notion of what was to come. Of course, my mind
was never far away from Covid 19 (contagion).

Could stand more punctuation methinks, simply to help with the flow.

Enjoyed the concern expressed throughout this delightful piece.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: April

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:59 am

.
Hi Luke,
good to read you again. Hope you and yours are well.
Lots to like, but, oh, so many questions :)
For instance, is 'April' a part of 'winter' (or the child's name)? And what's the reason 'I'd ask you not to ... ' And to whom/what is the offering made?

This month we make an offering:
...

- Don't mind the puzzle of the £20 (frankly I find the pebbles more mysterious), but what is garlanded by birch twigs and holly? The drum, the offering, or 'we'? It's irritatingly ambiguous. :)
This month we make an offering:
in the barbecue drum
garlanded by birch twigs,
holly. a twenty pound note
secured with pebbles


Flames the greens
...

- All those plurals and the possessive make for an unsatisfying read.
Confused by winter / baptism. Is there punctuation missing? And what's with the comma before 'contagion'. Struggling to parse this part.

Soon
patterns emerge

- if plural, then perhaps you need more than the one example of the 'berries'?
in the resting configuration of embers,
- I like how 'resting configuration' sounds, but what would an 'active configuration of embers' look like? (Do patterns emerge or are they imposed by the viewer?)
a prophecy, you fear;
a ring of berries
dilating, contracting

- could switch the order here for a b, c, d progression :)
...

Soon,
in the resting configuration of embers
patterns emerge
a ring of berries,
contracting, dilating
to the pyre's pulse.
you fear a prophecy
I ask you not to
trace her future in ash


or in the line of smoke
striking out into stillness
unwavering, unready
for the breath
which rises
from the rasping bronchioles
of the sea.

- again, like how 'bronchioles' sounds, but can't picture it.
Something of a Viking burial to the end (for me, anyway).
Might work a bit better as a series of verses, not a continuous 'lump' (apologies for the technical term) :)


Regards, Not


.

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Re: April

Post by 1lankest » Fri May 01, 2020 9:22 pm

Thanks Mac, Jj, NOT,
It’s good to be posting again.
There’s merit in all your suggestions - like the idea of making it a series, NOT.
The twenty pound note was designed to symbolise desperation, but perhaps it’s tasteless. Don’t get me wrong, I could do with a wad of them right now! Like the idea of sacrificing a poem, Mac.

Lots to ponder - the name certainly isn’t right, unnecessary distraction.

Luke

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Perry
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Re: April

Post by Perry » Sat May 02, 2020 5:14 am

I would have chimed in, but there is too much that I don't understand, like "a twenty pound note
secured with pebbles in the barbecue drum". Just not sure what that is, or why money is being sacrificed, or what barbecue has to do with it. (Is a "barbecue drum" a grill?) That's the way it is for me: Once I get stuck on the meaning, I can't proceed. Sometimes I get lost because I've forgotten to read the title, which explains everything; but this time the title doesn't help.

As an example of how literal-minded I am, when I first read the poem, I wondered how a piece of note paper could weigh twenty pounds. I wish you guys would adopt the word "dollar" (or perhaps the U.S. should adopt the metric system).

The only critique I can offer is that you should write it in longer, Whitmanesque lines.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: April

Post by Franklinsun » Mon May 04, 2020 7:20 am

Hello!

Hope you’re well.

First off I enjoyed many of the lines and images. “Trace her future in ash/or in the line of smoke/striking out into stillness’ is gorgeous. The three layers of the poem contrast strikingly too. The fantastical layer of sacrifice with its offerings, pulsating pyres, and prophecy. The mundane layer of twenty pound notes and barbecues. And the clinical medical layer. The tension between these are the heart of your poem.

But I also think this poem could do with some tightening up and would benefit from removing some ambiguity.

What I understand of the most basic thrust of the poem is that a family is making a sacrifice for the health of their daughter. A lot of the emotion in the poem comes from the impossibly futile gesture of burning a twenty pound note in the face of illness and death. With that general idea of what the poem’s about in mind, I’ll do a line by line reading with suggestions for tightening up and removing ambiguity.

L1: I feel like this line is too clunky and not engaging enough for an opening line. It doesn’t grab the reader at all. At minimum, you could get rid of ‘This month’. Since the title of the poem is April, the reader can assume everything within is prefaced by ‘this month’. You could also do something like ‘We offer a twenty pound note’, which gives the reader more substance to sink their teeth into.

L5–6: The contrast of the barbecue with the garland of birch twigs and holly is effective. But I would say that the comma after ‘twigs’ is awkward and doesn’t add anything. Normally ‘and’ would go there instead of the comma. I think ‘and’ would work better. This poem, I feel, should be simple, direct, and heartfelt. Breaks in normal grammar take away from that simplicity and directness. They force the reader out of the poem. This however creates a secondary problem, because then either line 5 would end with ‘and’ or line 6 would start with ‘and’, both of which aren’t ideal. But it’s all food for thought.

L6–12: These lines are confusing. The grammar doesn’t quite work here. And I don’t think that broken grammar is effective here either. It just reads awkwardly, especially ‘flames the greens’, with its abundance of sibilance. You introduce a lot of different ideas, images and references. We get the daughter, a flood, and contagion. I’m not sure how all of these relate to each other. Is it a particular historical flood? Is the contagion related to the flood? We get a strong sense of imminent illness and danger, a fragile child. But the ambiguity is distracting. Again I feel like this poem would best be served by direct imagery.

L13: I don’t think you need this word. It just distracts. ‘Patterns emerge’ is much stronger on its own.

L15: This line is a bit long and clunky, especially the word ‘configuration’. One possible suggestion is to remove ‘configuration of’. So the line would read ‘in the resting embers,/ a prophecy, you fear’.

L16: Technically this line should be a sentence on its own. So you’d put whatever punctuation you chose after ‘embers’. Or on the other hand you could remove the comma after ‘prophecy’, which would make this line a part of the previous sentence, rather than an independent sentence. Also you should technically use a colon rather than a semi-colon here. In many circumstances I am all for loose and broken grammar, but I don’t think it serves your poem here.

L17–19: These lines are striking and evocative. The sharp colour of berries, the fire pulsing, the shocking introduction of medical language with dilating, its all great. But here I also don’t understand what you’re doing, what these lines refer to. In this case, I think I’m just missing something. Would you be okay letting me know what you were trying to do here? I think the lines are great. I just don’t understand them.

L20–23: These lines are superb and by far the strongest in your poem. You could easily be talking to your family or to a doctor, asking them not to read the prophecy of your sacrifice, not to set the daughter’s fate in stone. Honestly I think you could end the poem here.

L24–27: These lines stray into ambiguity again. ‘Unwavering, unready’ is clunky and directionless after the sharp images beforehand. ‘Rasping bronchioles’ is an effective image that again evokes the clinical and medical. But then you introduce the sea, which hasn’t been mentioned or foreshadowed at all. The confusing introduction of the sea at the end makes for a very unsatisfying conclusion. If it were me I’d try to find a way to use the image of ‘rasping bronchioles’ earlier in the poem and just get rid of these lines entirely, ending on the gorgeous 23rd line.

I really like what you’re trying to do with this poem and think you’re off to a great start with some sharp images. I think with some tightening up and improved clarity this will be a superb poem.

All the best,

Francis.

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Re: April

Post by lotus » Wed May 13, 2020 5:29 pm

dear Luke

all of March & April
i was felled by Bronchitis
though perhaps it was Corona 19
fortunately my wife only had a sore throat for 3 days

when a trustworthy antibody test is available we will get one

i like the 20 pound note ....possibly being a poem at one time someone had paid the 20 to publish it


a warm smile
silent lotus
“A poem should have the touch ... the way sunlight falls on Braille.” .......silent lotus

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Bouquet Garni (Was April)

Post by 1lankest » Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:43 pm

Perry, Francis, Lotus. Sorry for the extremely late reply.
Sorry this doesn’t make sense to you Perry.
Francis, thanks for your extremely helpful critique. I have used a number of your suggestions in my revision.
I hope the revision helps clarify some things for you Perry.

Best,
Luke

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Re: Bouquet Garni (Was April)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:33 pm

.
Hi Luke,
not sure about the revision, seems to have lost some of the 'music' of the original, and the new title really doesn't work for me. That, plus 'barbecue drum' (drought, fear, future in ash) sends me to cannibalism.
The stuttering opening doesn't invite one in.
(Still confused by 'floodwater' then 'drought' and 'lack of rain', and not getting 'desperation' from the £20)

Sacrifice

It is late evening, her first winter
baptism of floodwater, contagion
and drought. we make an offering,

a twenty pound note knotted around
rosemary and bay, placed in the centre
of the barbecue drum. For lack of rain

It takes easily, flames linger.................................got to be something better than 'dance' surely?
in our daughter's eyes...........................................anything more to develop this section?

It is late evening, Patterns emerge
in the resting embers; a prophecy,
you fear, a ring of berries contracting,

dilating, with the pyre’s pulse.
I ask you not to speculate, to trace her
future in ash, or in the line of smoke

striking out into stillness...................................anything a little softer than 'striking'?


Regards, Not


.

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Re: Bouquet Garni (Was April)

Post by Macavity » Fri Jun 19, 2020 9:54 am

hi Luke,
Thumbs up on the revision. Not striving so much as the original, more fluid, though flames dance feels too familiar.

best

mac

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