Posted: Fri Nov 9th, 2007 08:55 pm
1 st Post
after hours in a museum is as quiet
as a painting of three red chairs
once occupied by people
who laughed at each other’s humor
the lake of your father’s mind
must be lovely and quiet,
every now and then
small sunfish nibbling
delightfully at its surface
nothing is perfect, not even if
the next person you meet
may be the only one you’ll ever
have a chance to be in love with
the coming snow will make
so little noise while falling
it is nearly midnight and November
in Minnesota nearly finished
leaving many of its small towns
in fallen leaves.
Posted: Sat Nov 10th, 2007 10:29 pm
2 nd Post
J Brian Long
This poem's quietude lends it an intimacy that is rather haunting. I wasn't
going to respond to it, but I have kept returning to it ever since the first
read. It seems even silence has an echo.
You have succeeded in stringing together disparate strophes that, somehow
--in that quasi-spiritual and mysterious way good poems seem to work--
coalesce into an enjoyable piece of writing.
The first strophe is charming. The thing that makes it so (to me) is
the specificity of "three red chairs" and the deft and fitting mention
that they are (appropriately) unoccupied. Those lines do much to allow
a controlled access to the reader. The opening words "after hours" are
a little stumbly, though I can't suggest anything to consider as an
improvement to them just yet. They probably could stand alone there
without any harm being committed to the poem, anyway, but if they
were replaced with something that was a little less of a tripwire, the
piece might be elevated a tad. Some might suggest that you could
degeneralize "people/ who laughed at each other's humor", but I am not
certain the vagueness is all that harmful; it seems to imply that the reader is
on the outside of an inside reference (the controlled access I mentioned
earlier), but that it's perfectly ok to be (in this instance, anyway).
The second strophe is, I think, the strongest bit of poetry I have seen
you post here. It is, for lack of a better word, delightful. "sunfish" was
perfect. The line breaks were well chosen. Bravo!
The third strophe is the weakest of the poem. The cliche in its opening
line glares at this reader; if you feel this cliche must be utilized, the poem
might benefit from it being illuminated in a fresh light. The remaining lines
in that strophe don't quite do it. Also, the second person fails the poem
here (unlike in the second strophe, where it invigorated the lines following
it) because it seems too general and removed; in the second strophe, I felt
the poem was speaking to someone specific; in the third strophe, I feel that
the poem isn't speaking to anyone in particular. If you deleted this whole
strophe, the poem would not suffer; in fact, it would lend it even more
intimacy (and it is the INTIMACY of this poem that makes it so damn
The fourth strophe is a bit of a puzzle. It works, and works well, yet
is says something so painfully obvious it amost appears silly. BUT:
taken in the context of the poem (with the reader strangely contented
to be on the outside looking in --which is a neat trick, Timmy, truly),
it not only works, but seems almost essential. Wonderfully puzzling.
The fifth strophe would be a good closer. The sixth seems like nothing
but a prop to the fifth (in that the sixth's allusions seem unnecessary
and... almost... uncertain). Remove the sixth and end at the fifth and
you have a nice, tight piece of writing that haunts and inspires awe.
End on the sixth and I am reminded of that feeling I get when I see one
of those movies that seem to go on about thirty minutes too long, ones
we later ask our date on the ride home, something akin to: "Don't you think
they should've wrapped things up back at the wedding scene?"
I have enjoyed this poem a great deal. Take my comments for what they
are: an offer of the point-of-view of one man who, despite himself, damnit,
can't help but like a good poem and is unable to resist telling the author
all about the why of it.
Take care. Stay warm.
--J Brian Long
Last edited on Sat Nov 10th, 2007 10:32 pm by J Brian Long
Posted: Sun Nov 11th, 2007 12:20 am
3 rd Post
...well, I guess you went beyond the call of duty here. Thank you. I'm glad you liked it.
...interesting b/c I've already revised it and I agree w/ALMOST everything you comment on. The English guy in me cringes by your suggestion to shift "person" but I do see your point...
I struggled with the first line and am curious as to what you think: as is or "after hours in a museum ARE as quiet" Completely changes the meaning and I honestly changed it at the last second before posting.
...as for the outsider looking in, I'm glad you said that b/c in my mind we are all outsiders looking in at a writer's words and experiences...playwrite or poet.
Again, thanks. Much appreciated.
Posted: Sun Nov 11th, 2007 01:22 am
4 th Post
J Brian Long
"I struggled with the first line and am curious as to what you think: as is or "after hours in a museum ARE as quiet" Completely changes the meaning and I honestly changed it at the last second before posting. "
(I'm a bit tipsy. Bear with me.)
If we look at "after hours" as a block of time, a noun, a thing in and of itself
comprised of hours (as one might look at a day or a month or a year) then "is"
is better, I think. Replace "after hours" with "Night" and you can see what I
But if we look at "after hours" with "after" as a modifier of "hours", then "are"
The former choice is the safest, I think. The second seems the more daring.
I like the second.
(But the room is slightly unsteady.)
--J Brian Long
Last edited on Sun Nov 11th, 2007 01:28 am by J Brian Long
Posted: Fri Feb 5th, 2010 06:34 pm
5 th Post
Very, very nice.
I like the imagery.
It is very humorous.
Posted: Sun Feb 28th, 2010 04:35 am
6 th Post
Holy...what are you, J. Brian Long, a professor? That's some mighty heavy analysis. Not inappropriate, but surprising.
I liked the poem, Timmy. I'm not going to stroke any strophes here. I just liked it.
J. Brian, if you can critique like that whilst tipsy, what do you do sober? Or is the tipsiness a prerequisite?
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