syzygy07 (syzygy07) wrote in poetryworkshop,
syzygy07
syzygy07
poetryworkshop

Inside Job

This one definitely needs some work, but I just felt some odd urge to post it.

I hope it has some hidden potential.


This bigoted wiring
throws down its gauntlet
"Are you like me...
should I care what you think?"

At the failure of this instant test
all words can be discarded,
as mouths tighten and eyes fold up.

This then safe little grinning group,
insulated from change.
Safe
  safe
safe
from these outside evil "others".
Bundled in hardened smiles,
blind entitlement gripped tight
they swallow whole their
sampled ancient history.

These allegiances bring one back
to the origin of this school yard tale
where one look from the collective eyes
could make one feel like diddly.

  Though you wanted no role as puppet
  to their lazily strung up show,
  the mirror just didn't look the same
  when you stood ashamed
  as those eyes took you in
  and spit you out.

  As mouths spilled their putrid tales
  and summoned you in to shiny teeth.
  Chewed up and blown out
  until your soft putty-form
  showed every bite.

  That flush as you looked
  at a solitary marked up self
  in your reflected wall.
  Patching adopted wounds with
  spackle and paint to hide the scars
  lest someone new notice
  that you had been marked
  by this bitter losing battle.

One grows weary of this age old tale,
this cycle of woe and fright.
Stored up inside any able minded me
is the independent pluck
to stare in the eyes of these
negated offenders.

Be no puppet poppet.
This walk is for these solo shoes,
indelible eyes on the trail.
Blind to this sad
oft repeated
diversion.
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Hmm...

I think I might be a little too close to this one to be able to offer the most useful critique. The only thing I have to offer right now is (as difficult as it might be), to remove anything that tries to make the judgment for the reader, like "This bigoted wiring," for example, and allow readers to make their own decisions.

I like the part about looking in the mirror, but I confess it's because I want to take it and write my own version. That's always guaranteed to make for bad advice, so I'll stop right here.

Thanks!
Thanks, how far should I go in removing the judgement? There is quite a bit in there in this version. Are there other specific sections that really shout out too loud? Or are we taking about the whole shebang?

If this was inappropriate to post, I would have no hard feelings about removing it. I wasn't planning on discussing this one for a first post, but sometimes I have to listen to that nagging voice that tells me to post away.

This gauntlet lays on shallow ground
"Are you like me...
should I care what you think?"
failure of this insta-test
blocks the way
as shop doors close up
and mouths grin back.

This ensconced group,
Now safe from those outsiders.
Bundled in enlightened codes,
they swallow whole
their sampled ancient history.

These allegiances bring one back
to the origin of the school yard tale
where one look from the collective eyes
could make one feel like diddly.

   Though he wanted no role as puppet
   to their lazily strung up show,
   the mirror just didn't look the same
   when he stood ashamed
   as those eyes took him in
   and spit him out.

      As mouths spilled their putrid tales
      and summoned bodies up to shiny teeth.
      Chewing up and blowing out
      until that soft putty-form
      showed every bite.

   That flush as he looked
   at a solitary marked up self
   in the reflected wall.
   Patching adopted wounds
   with Spackle and paint
   lest someone new notice
   the marks of this bitter battle.

If one grows weary of this age old tale,
this cycle of woe and fright,
stored up inside any able minded me
is the independent pluck
to stare in the eyes of these
negated offenders.

Walking in those solo shoes,
indelible eyes on the trail,
blind to this oft repeated
diversion.
Ok, I think the next step should be revising the metaphors so they have the chance to resonate with each other. The theme seems to be a playground, but the scene is elsewhere. capture the first scene, the one that recalls the playground memories, so it can be set against those memories. (Don't worry about being too explicit. This event will fade. The poem has a chance to live a much longer life.) There's also a mirror scene, and right now it just jumps between these without much sense of transition.

So to summarize:

Set the scene with sharper detail.
Set the "memory" scene.
Choose your metaphors to match.
Work the transitions.
Fit the mirror scene in.

Thanks!
Thank you, I will work on those ideas. I truly appreciate the feedback.

I do want to ask more about removing explicit judgment from poetry. Is there ever a place where it would be acceptable inside a poem?

This is a new realm for me so I'm curious about this and interested in learning the rules. I'm certain there are other rules that I have/will violate unknowingly, it would help to at least have a deeper understanding of this one.

Side note - This poem was written over a month ago, its current relevance was purely coincidental.
I don't know of any rules governing the issue. Some poets express their judgments/concerns directly in their poems and it works for them. Amiri Baraka comes to mind. It's never worked for me. It didn't seem to be working in this poem.

Some alternatives could be placing a judgment in a character's mouth, or experiment stating the opposite point of view. Readers appreciate being shown the respect of allowing them to make up their own minds.

People aren't stupid, as a general rule. When it appears so, it's a good bet that you're not working very hard to understand the opposing points of view.

People are wrong, however. We're wrong all the time. When we close ourselves off from listening, or seeing another perspective, that's when we run the risk of never finding out.
Hello! :)

(I'm replying to this one since it said "new take." If you wanted a reply to the other version rather than this please tell me.)

could make one feel like diddly

Each time I've read the poem this line stops me. The word "diddly" seems like a really odd choice to me. The rest of the piece you have words that invoke harshness or nastiness or just a sense of wetness and then you have a very soft word like "diddly" and it doesn't seem to fit with the feel of the piece.

stored up inside any able minded me

I think you need a hyphen between "able" and "minded"

this cycle of woe and fright

the idea of a cycle of woe and fright seems so cliched to me. Do you have another way you can phrase that to make your reader gasp in surprise or have an "Aha!" moment of wonder?

Anyway, just my thoughts on the piece. Best of luck with your writing. :)
Thank you, that is very helpful.

No need to go back to the original for critique, you picked the right one.

I've never thought of "diddly" as a soft word so that is an especially compelling note. I am not committed to it, so I can certainly play around with other choices.
I keep avoiding working on this one. Is it truly salvageable? If not, could we use it as an exercise in what makes a bad poem?

I never know whether to force these to work when they clearly aren't, or pull out just the tiny bits that work and throw out everything else.

If a "throw out" is in order, are they even any current bits to save?
I think what's hurting it is that it hasn't picked any one metaphor or scene to stick with, but is casting around and trying a lot of them. The real trick ... and it's one of those this-is-so-obvious-it's-hard-to-believe tricks ... is that it doesn't matter which one you go with. Just make sure you commit to it.

There are a lot of cliches here, but a cliche is just a really powerful idea lying in the dust of so many trampling feet. All you have to do is pick it up and mean it.

Try doing a 20 minute free-write on what you think of as the central idea, or scene. Or do a free write on one of the cliches. See if you can brush the durt off it and make it fresh again.

And if you hear a little voice telling you this or that idea is silly and won't fit ... listen to it. There's no surer way of finding your best lines!