This is the literary weblog of Jeffrey W. Hull, M.D., a pediatrician. It is intended mainly as a place to maintain a collection of poetry created for the enjoyment of a few friends and as an archive for my family. All material is protected by US copyright.

Jeffrey Hull

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sunday


© 2005 Nina Camic All rights reserved.

Like teardrops on a dewy grass,
   Like dry leaves in the fall–
As soft as cats the Sundays pass
   And don't say much at all.

The plodding weeks mark turning moons
   As months build years in stone;
And pirate Time hoards his doubloons
   And counts his cache alone.

The ages reach and beckon me,
   The tides have laid their plot;
They tug my vessel out to sea
   And bid me tarry not.

The naked masts are barren trees
   Their yards and rigging moan,
But winter breeze awhile agrees
   The sailing to postpone.

So here ashore and here once more
   Cold Sundays grind like stones;
Their grist the days I can't restore,
   Their toll these aching bones.


© 2005 Jeffrey Hull

4 Comments:

Oz sez:

Drop the pirate Time and doubloons reference (or give it an adequate segue) and you've got yourself a minor masterpiece.

Also, try replacing "Like" with 'In' in the first stanza:

Like teardrops on a dewy grass,
Like dry leaves in the fall–
As soft as cats the Sundays pass
And don't say much at all.

Why compare when you can personify? It's such a perfect conception -- the passing Sundays -- it deserves to be metaphor not simile.

The plodding weeks mark turning moons
As months build years in stone;

If somehow the plodding weeks could turn the moons that mark time's passage, oh, how perfectly dense that line would be. Similarly, the months building stony years expresses a nice notion, and well done, but if the lithification could be expressed more passively than actively, that is, if the years could accrue rather than be built somehow, the metaphor would much more deeply resonate with memory's fragile endurance. If acquired experience *is* a stone, it is pumice, that floats on water.

I tried:

"The plodding weeks mark turning moons"

as

'The plodding weeks turn barking moons'

but a) the meaning of 'turn' becomes ambiguous and b) while 'barking moons' has a nice echo, it doesn't fit here. I think I'm literarily 'reaching for the moon'. (What I'm yearning for is some trope that translates "mark" into something that imprints, or gnaws, the moon, like a calendar tally or the mnythical Chinese dragon that takes a nightly bite of the moon which then regrows along the same marks of incision. I really lack a sense of restraint and feasibility, at least when it comes to words.)


And pirate Time hoards his doubloons
And counts his cache alone.

Methinks this is a lie. I see you counting them with said pirate. Methinks this trope deserves expungement from here and development into a poem of its own.

The naked masts are barren trees
Their yards and rigging moan,
But winter breeze awhile agrees
The sailing to postpone.

So here ashore and here once more
Cold Sundays grind like stones;
Their grist the days I can't restore,
Their toll my aching bones.

Now that you've done all the Hard Work, allow me to play:

The naked masts are barren trees
Their rigging roped in stone,
But winter breeze awhile agrees
The sailing to postpone.

...Cold Sunday teeth, like crones
Cold Sundey teeth, old crones,
Cold Sundays, toothless crones,

Grind gums on days I can't restore,
And chew my aching bones.

Not an 'improvement', certainly, for ar this point I've lost the semantic and narrative continuity your poem displays; but I wanted to cast certain descriptive terms in different weights or from different perspectives for chiarascuro's sake.

One more thing:

The naked masts are barren trees
Their yards and rigging moan,
But winter breeze awhile agrees
The sailing to postpone.

There's a lack of semantic continuity between naked sailing masts and the word "sailing" as postponed by a winter breeze, capisch? I *know* what you mean (I think) -- the wind keeps yet in harbor a vessel that otherwise would be tide-tugged out to the sea of final rest, or, the wind agrees as yet not to turn full gale and drag the ship beyond harbor -- but it's a tad vague.

What if:

'The winter wind awhile suspends
My soul among my bones'?

All together in final revision:

In teardrops on a dewy grass,
On dry leaves in the fall–
As soft as cats the Sundays pass
And don't say much at all.

The plodding weeks mark turning moons
The years, by months, grow stone;
Somewhere in Time, a cask in rime
Hoards my days for its own.

The ages reach and beckon me,
The tides have laid their plot;
They tug my vessel out to sea
And bid me tarry not.

The naked masts are barren ends,
Their rigging ropes of stone,
But winter wind awhile suspends
My soul among my bones.

So here ashore and here once more
Cold Sundays, toothless crones,
Grind gums on ribs I can't restore,
And pipe an ancient drone.

'a cask in rime' is a touch garish, but I threw it in both as a pun and deference to your love of hoary bardic words -- and to give the Old Pirate something for His troubles.

Anyway, thanx. I needed that. You can tell when a poem of yours is fine the way it is: when it's stout enough to endure Robin's Rewriters, scourge of the seas Actually, I really like this rewrite. The only thing it lacks, I think, is, perhaps, a more definite segue linking the reaching ages and plotted tides that tug at your vessel, with your soul among your yardarm bones.

But I think it is well as it is.

Two poems for the price of one! Ain't plagiarism grand?

Oz
Hmmm... challenge, they say, is opportunity:

The plodding weeks mark turning moons
The years, by months, grow stone;
Somewhere in Time, a cask in rime
Hoards my days for its own.

Forgot to maintain your rhyme scheme. So:

The plodding weeks mark turning time
On cogworn moons of stone;
Somewhere in Time, a cask in rime
Hoards my days for its own.

And I didn't really work this third line properly.

So here ashore and here once more
Cold Sundays, toothless crones,
Grind gums on ribs I can't restore,
And pipe an ancient drone.

'restore' ribs? A tad diffuse. How about:

'Suck marrow from my ribs' cool core
And pipe an ancient drone.'

With reverent honor to their ghost's ghost:

"That corpse wasn't planted in clover;
Ah, nothing of her was found
Save those grey bones that Hare-foot Mike
Gave me for their lovely sound;
And as once her dancing body
Made star-lit princes sweat,
So I'll just clack: though her ghost lacks a back
There's music in the old bones yet."

from 'Song for the Clatter-Bones'
Higgins, F. R. (1896-1941) at:

http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~stephan/webstuff/poetry/Higgins-SongfortheCl.html
"Everything is what it is, and not another thing." Rev. Joseph Butler, English philosopher 1692-1752.
THIS POEM NEEDS NO RE-WRITING IN MY OPINION.

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