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The Playwrights Forum > The Art & Craft of Writing > Poet's Corner : Critique my Poem > Night Flight

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 Posted: Wed Aug 16th, 2006 12:47 pm
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Kate
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Mana: 
Timmy's dream poem inspired me to write this - it's very, very rough.  It doesn't have the polished use of language that Timmy creates - but I'd like to take it somewhere.  I find writing like this helps - it's a sort of writing limbering-up & stretching before the marathon of writing my play!

 

Night Flight

 

When I can’t sleep I make myself hover on the ceiling.

On the bed below, my lips are counting sheep.

I glide round the light shade to the open window

and hang outside on the gutter.

There’s a fingernail moon, and a fox on the lawn.

I follow it to the gate and fly above the oaks, above the church,

over spiky grass on the South Downs

and hitch a ride on the cab of a tanker

to Leatherhead.  I head for London.

I follow a train over the Thames at Bank

and land at Oxford Circus.

I wait at the curb.

I am a man.

Young, tall, wirey.

Slightly rugged.

In jeans.

A leather jacket.

A worn, black leather jacket.

Heavy boots.

The Great Portland Street traffic lights are red.

A car stops.  A car with a guy in it.

I grab his neck, pull a gun from my belt and put it to his temple.

“Drive.”

I am in the back, my mouth at his ear.

I tell him what to do.

We drive east, then north.

In Tottenham Court Road he begins to snivel,

says he has kids.

“Shut up.”

I leave him alive and walk to Camden Town,

down Albany to Regents Park.

The zoo.

I climb the iron and wire fence.

I smile at the cameras.

I stir up the monkeys.

I open the cages of the birds of prey.

I let the wolves out.

The police are here – blue lights and stun guns –

but I know the alleys,

the shortcut to Regents Canal,

the tow path to Maida Vale.

 

I need to feel mean.

 

There’s a restaurant on a corner,

With candles and silverware.

I push my way in and shoot the maître d’.

No, I push my way in and shoot an old man 

sipping soup.  No, I push my way in and

shoot someone. Anyone.

In the eye.

The left eye.

I laugh.

I leave.

There’s sirens at Marble Arch.

I want to go home.

I must get from the Edgware Road to the south coast

before morning, before breakfast, before everyone’s up.

I can’t risk the tube.

It’s too late for the train.

I’m too tired to fly.

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 Posted: Wed Aug 16th, 2006 08:29 pm
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timmy
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Mana: 
Kate: (only my opinions here. Take them for what they're worth....I like this just the way you've written it.....

....drop the first four lines and start w/the strength of the opening image: "There’s a fingernail moon, and a fox on the lawn." I like this. And change the title. I don't want to know you're dreaming. Or at least let me figure it out.

...try it w/o any punctuation. just my opinion but it would help the "dreaminess"....get rid of any excess words you can...maybe play w/the line format even more to accentuate the dreaminess....

example: I open the cages.
Let the wolves out.

..."I need to feel mean." Great line. Isolating it really smacks.

Read Hemmingway's "Big Hearted River" or any of the Nick Adams stories...focus on Big Papa's lack of adjectives and modifiers. The story has nothing to do with dreams; it's just a guy fishing. But there's no dialogue and wonderful detail. After detail. After detail. Like your poem.

timmy

(I've been asked to come read a couple of my short plays tonight at a rural theater. I've never done this before and I'm scared to death...I think I may read a couple of poems just to get my mouth working.....

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 Posted: Thu Aug 17th, 2006 08:06 am
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Kate
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Mana: 
Timmy - thanks for the advice - really, really useful and constructive.  I can't wait to get to work on another draft now!

Hope the reading went well.  I'm sure you were great.  If you're a poet, you're well used to reading out loud.  As long as the audience doesn't go to sleep or start throwing eggs, you're ok.

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 Posted: Sun Aug 20th, 2006 05:38 pm
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Edd
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Mana: 
Kate, I've a haiku that was originally titled Night Flight.  So, naturally I love the title.  Also, I did not see it completely as a dream.  Pagan Spirtualist that I am, I may have every book on astral projection ever written.  I like it the way it is.

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 Posted: Sun Aug 20th, 2006 05:54 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
Kate,

I liked the poem. I like the layout. The setting off "I need to feel mean." The solitary aloneness of that line and the speaker is clear. Portentous.

Only suggestion: First line "When I can't sleep I hover on the ceiling." Cut "I make myself." I think it is implied. Not needed. Every other line is so direct and taut.

I love the specifity of "The left eye." Whew!

I love the title. Heck, that is exactly what the poem is about.

And I like to know you are dreaming, or would like to know eventually that you are dreaming. In contrast to Timmy. Anyone who has hovered on a ceiling knows what your are talking about. And even those who only wish they have hovered on a ceiling! Re: Edd's comment which is also what the poem is about, I believe. And does the writer astral travel or only wishes he/she could travel? That is the open question I like about the poem.

Your poem reminds me of one of my favorite small collections is "Insomnia Poems: Acquainted With the Night" edited by Lisa Russ Spaar. Here is a review link below. Any writer or creative person knows the power and terrors, etc. of the wee hours and I have made it a favorite of mine to give to friends. One of the best and bleakest ever written I think is "Aubade" by Philip Larkin. I also love "Acquainted With the Night" by Robert Frost. Among many others in and not in the collection. Nice to see so many under one roof, however.

You can find other links about it on the internet, but this one I just grabbed.


http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cup/catalog/data/023111/023111544X.HTM


in media res

Last edited on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 06:12 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Thu Aug 31st, 2006 12:37 pm
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nikip
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Mana: 
Hi Kate!  Have arrived back from holiday to your poem.  Love it. 

I first read it as an escape into fiction.  That hold idea of reinventing yourself in the imagination is exciting stuff.  I also thought that you could lose "make myself" in the first line, and Timmy's idea of no punctuation was an interesting idea to play around with. 

I don't know why, but the bit about catching a lift to Leatherhead really struck me.  It was amusing on many levels, as it was an unlikely place and made me think of perhaps a historical relevance to the dreamer and then I thought that maybe also this poem was about regression. The sense of becoming "other" was prevalent and your use of language was stark and raw. 

Please post some more! I am suffering from post holiday blues, so my comments may be rusty, but my enjoyment of reading other people's work is very much shiny chrome!

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