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Does it Make a Sound (1 Viewer)

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
This is the first poem in a collection called Does it Make a Sound?, chapter 1, If a Tree:


Prayer and Praise



Magnolia flowers

press their plush hands together

in the morning,

white-tipped with divinity,

flame-shaped and pointing upward.

At the base of each, a color

approximating fire, but closer

to the violet or purple or indigo

of old church offering plates,

felt-lined, anticipating gifts.

I offer my attention to each flower,

and my respect.

A strange, but valuable, coinage I extend—

the currency of a heart

touched two-toned, and by softness.

It is as though my whole existence

lay on the plate passing before me,

resting in a prayer which awaits

the full sun.



And then it happens,

a bit later when the radiance builds up

like fire (as excitement

that incites joyous dance and singing);

petal-hands open up,

reaching out to greet

the full exposure of day,

and to be blown by it,

or bruised by it—

whatever the realness brings.

For that is what true praise

requires of magnolia flowers;

a willingness,

an abandon to the elements of creation,

swirling in wind and

spreading around and across,

in sunlight.

And joining the bright flower overhead,

with an unfolding all their own.

 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
Some really decent imagery, (like the offering plate velvet, but it gets a bit lost). The presentation, however, is very passive. From a reader's standpoint too passive. It is all tell and no show, very much in the style of: See Dick run vs. Dick ran, his sandals shrieking, a squeaking protest against the overheated blacktop. One the narrator says, this is this and that is that. The reader does not have to think...which can result in a reader rapidly losing interest because they don't have to actively engage with the piece.

Reading is an active process but when a narrator tells the reader what to think, how to think, and exactly how it is with a certain piece. (This is fine with some nonfiction, but can be problematic with immersive mediums like poetry.) The reader is left feeling inadequate, as if they are not smart enough to figure out what a paragraph or a poem is saying. This is how telling, rather than showing can come across to readers. The idea is great, the imagery unique, but the narrator's style quashes what works. The third person perspective works, when it flips over to first person (I), is when it becomes too passive.

e.g.

Outlier's Bloom

It bloomed, waxy and defiant
in the shadow of a bluff
maple draped a beast
an old guard of the east

A thousand miles
and thousand more
from her humid
sleepy brackened
marshland home

An alien, her blossoms bright
a battle standard shone
in the dormant dreamscape
of the bitter northern vale

Magnolias are not native in my part of the world, but we do have a number of them in my area. We're just sheltered enough that a few cold hardy ones can survive. They are among the first signs of spring here, blooming weeks before the crab apples, pussywillows, and even the tulips. They are outliers and something I watch for because they are heralds of change. Why am I blathering on about this...Context. Readers always bring their own context to the party. In my head I see this hardy, brave pioneer defiantly in bloom, and encounter a pressed petal instead. Nice enough, but lacking dimension.


- D.
 
Last edited:

Matchu

Senior Member
I think it is rather elegant.

- enhanced through removal of a 'but' & a 'with', a couple of your 'ings' exchanged for 'eds'...'es'.

Is magnolia a flower type or only a colour? I suppose I should find out. If it was a type I'd enjoy the associations between flower-type and character, if I expressed properly there?

It has an appealing deftness.

Magnolia flowers

press their plush hands together

in the morning,

white-tipped with divinity,

flame-shaped and pointing upward.

At the base of each, a color

approximating fire, but closer

to the violet or purple or indigo

of old church offering plates,


See you :)
 

Matchu

Senior Member
...the weaker areas - correlates, I think, to what I said...

I didn’t ‘dissect’ your whole poem. I tried to raise only a couple of suggestions - almost like a principle.
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
That part stood out for you? Why with underlined ? Not needed?
Thanks for processing.


The underline is one of the vagaries of the new forum. The imagery as a whole holds the power of the piece. However, where readers hit a snag is the explanatory text like the quoted text below that needs to be looked at. The imagery itself as a whole has potential. Adjust your focus a little bit, ( look at it like an endangered tree species within a huge forest, not the bug on the tree limb within the forest). There is very good imagery and some clever congruencies like the colour of the blossom to the velvet and the positioning of the petals as if in prayer.

Those images set the stage, but because of the passive, meandering style the impact is lost, almost like a glass of water spilled on a fresh water colour. The surfeit blurs the colours and clarity of the scene. Perspective flips from third person to first and when the pronoun I is introduced more water is added muting the colours even more. From a reader's standpoint, it goes from anticipated reverence to the fidgety little kid wanting to be done because their interest has waned.

As this is just the showcase, not workshop, an illustration edit is not expected. What I can do point out things like this phrase here is a perfect example of water blurring the imagery. This is basic telling. Radiance and fire are close enough in their meaning of intrinsic brightness that radiance, the stronger of the two words would work. And, why explain what incitement means? This is a bucket of water right here, step by step, directions on what the reader is supposed to think. Things like this really weigh the pacing of a piece down and struggle elicit the emotions they are saying a reader should experience.

e.g.


a bit later when the radiance builds up

like fire (as excitement

that incites joyous dance and singing);

vs.

wreathed in royal purple
radiance sleeps at its heart
the soul of the magnolia
a song seen by quiet eyes


This is showing verse telling. Let the imagery take the weight of their definitions and the emotions they evoke. Poetry doesn't really flow well when it has explanatory text in the middle of a stanza. The explanatory sections are the aspects that could be removed. e.g. approximating fire. One author who has a similar theme (nature/faith) is Mary Oliver. She does an excellent job of steeping her imagery for the greatest impact. The magnolia deserves that impact.

Take moment and take a look at what other members have posted. See if you can spot sections of simile infused explanations in the work of other poets. If you cannot find such, consider there might be a reason for it.

There is a lot of potential in the piece; consider that a careful edit would tighten things up.


- D.
 
Last edited:

happy-hippie

Senior Member
I liked this piece. It is elegant. The flower waits ....the heart waits...Opening flowers, openings hearts, responsiveness is true praise and prayer(My interpretation.) Lovely! The imagery makes the poem speak. I am no professional...just sharing my reaction. Thank you for sharing.
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Some really decent imagery, (like the offering plate velvet, but it gets a bit lost). The presentation, however, is very passive. From a reader's standpoint too passive. It is all tell and no show, very much in the style of: See Dick run vs. Dick ran, his sandals shrieking, a squeaking protest against the overheated blacktop. One the narrator says, this is this and that is that. The reader does not have to think...which can result in a reader rapidly losing interest because they don't have to actively engage with the piece.

Reading is an active process but when a narrator tells the reader what to think, how to think, and exactly how it is with a certain piece. (This is fine with some nonfiction, but can be problematic with immersive mediums like poetry.) The reader is left feeling inadequate, as if they are not smart enough to figure out what a paragraph or a poem is saying. This is how telling, rather than showing can come across to readers. The idea is great, the imagery unique, but the narrator's style quashes what works. The third person perspective works, when it flips over to first person (I), is when it becomes too passive.

e.g.

Outlier's Bloom

It bloomed, waxy and defiant
in the shadow of a bluff
maple draped a beast
an old guard of the east

A thousand miles
and thousand more
from her humid
sleepy brackened
marshland home

An alien, her blossoms bright
a battle standard shone
in the dormant dreamscape
of the bitter northern vale

Magnolias are not native in my part of the world, but we do have a number of them in my area. We're just sheltered enough that a few cold hardy ones can survive. They are among the first signs of spring here, blooming weeks before the crab apples, pussywillows, and even the tulips. They are outliers and something I watch for because they are heralds of change. Why am I blathering on about this...Context. Readers always bring their own context to the party. In my head I see this hardy, brave pioneer defiantly in bloom, and encounter a pressed petal instead. Nice enough, but lacking dimension.


- D.
Thanks for the feedback.

Yes, I am aware of a rather didactic quality of many of my poems. My hope is that there is room in "poetry" for something besides the audience participation riddle-solving variety, and that some readers have such a sincere desire to take in spiritual insights and wisdom that a teaching-oriented poem is valued as is.

Perhaps I am a philosopher poet, rather than a poet philosopher, and certainly not a pure poet. My poetic offerings tend to be more focused on transformation of being, life, and the world, than on entertainment.

Perhaps most readers want entertainment, and take didactic poetry as being too preachy. I plea guilty to those charges.

I enjoyed Wallace Steven's poetry the most as a teenager and young adult. I still like a touch of intellectual thought sticking its head through the poetic imagery. Next, I read some spiritual poetry; Rumi (sp?) comes to mind. Also, some of the homespun poems of Robert Frost still resonate with me. After all, I was a farm boy who happened to like poetry. I grew up in a very practical culture that had little, if any, hunger for poetry. Perhaps my poems take on some of the clunky characteristics or a farm implement?

My hope for Prayer and Praise is that the reader identifies with the Magnolia blooms and feels the "unfolding" of being. I want the poem to be spiritually empowering (even if it falls short poetically?). The poem advances my supRAnatural theology of the natural divinity in all of us. Not just a reality lording over or driving us (the Father of the trinity), nor a spirit that blows us in the right direction (the Holy Ghost), nor a mere divine example to follow/emulate (the Son). Instead, an awareness and appreciation and utilization of divinity woven into our very being. The religious (Christian) imagery of a fountain flowing deep and wide really inspires me. I am more interested in the God function than in the God object or God (individual) being. Perhaps my supranatural theology is more a "be-ology" than a theistic proposition.

This second poem (below) from the same collection (Does it Make a Sound?), continues expressing the supranatural theology that I hope can transform the beings in the world, and the world itself. It too has a didactic quality. It will probably turn you off for the same reasons that Prayer and Praise didn't work for you.

But it is so wonderful that we can process the reasons we do or don't like a creative work. I find that refreshing, liberating. And it also opens me up to the possibility of writing a few more-poetic poems like the one you shared.


Dash

I was reading a spiritual book

under a leafy Magnolia tree

when I saw a deer looking strangely close

and unafraid at a man who happened to be reading

about the God in God’s each and every creation.


Was it God, all smooth

with light brown and light build,

simply observing

the man in the shadows

of leaves and theological thought?


I saw a line on the side of the creature’s coat,

a wound perhaps from a hard encounter once

with man’s mad traffic,

a minus sign survived, hyphen joining my words,

or mark of character worthy of a name.


I called aloud, “Dash.”

Still, the deer stood still, simply observing

creatures who take strange comfort in naming and

in relating with identity

instead of wonder alone.


The deer modeled something inexplicable

which stopped my reading,

because some messages move beyond words,

connecting, as dashes do, to unidentified paths

and open visitations.




Darrell
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
That part stood out for you? Why with underlined ? Not needed?
Thanks for processing.
I liked this piece. It is elegant. The flower waits ....the heart waits...Opening flowers, openings hearts, responsiveness is true praise and prayer(My interpretation.) Lovely! The imagery makes the poem speak. I am no professional...just sharing my reaction. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks happy hippie. As I told Darkkin, my hope is that the reader identifies with those lush, beautiful, flowers.
Then a reclaiming of his/her natural divinity (projected out onto “God,” etc) May occur
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
That part stood out for you? Why with underlined ? Not needed?
Thanks for processing.
The underline is one of the vagaries of the new forum. The imagery as a whole holds the power of the piece. However, where readers hit a snag is the explanatory text like the quoted text below that needs to be looked at. The imagery itself as a whole has potential. Adjust your focus a little bit, ( look at it like an endangered tree species within a huge forest, not the bug on the tree limb within the forest). There is very good imagery and some clever congruencies like the colour of the blossom to the velvet and the positioning of the petals as if in prayer.

Those images set the stage, but because of the passive, meandering style the impact is lost, almost like a glass of water spilled on a fresh water colour. The surfeit blurs the colours and clarity of the scene. Perspective flips from third person to first and when the pronoun I is introduced more water is added muting the colours even more. From a reader's standpoint, it goes from anticipated reverence to the fidgety little kid wanting to be done because their interest has waned.

As this is just the showcase, not workshop, an illustration edit is not expected. What I can do point out things like this phrase here is a perfect example of water blurring the imagery. This is basic telling. Radiance and fire are close enough in their meaning of intrinsic brightness that radiance, the stronger of the two words would work. And, why explain what incitement means? This is a bucket of water right here, step by step, directions on what the reader is supposed to think. Things like this really weigh the pacing of a piece down and struggle elicit the emotions they are saying a reader should experience.

e.g.




vs.

wreathed in royal purple
radiance sleeps at its heart
the soul of the magnolia
a song seen by quiet eyes


This is showing verse telling. Let the imagery take the weight of their definitions and the emotions they evoke. Poetry doesn't really flow well when it has explanatory text in the middle of a stanza. The explanatory sections are the aspects that could be removed. e.g. approximating fire. One author who has a similar theme (nature/faith) is Mary Oliver. She does an excellent job of steeping her imagery for the greatest impact. The magnolia deserves that impact.

Take moment and take a look at what other members have posted. See if you can spot sections of simile infused explanations in the work of other poets. If you cannot find such, consider there might be a reason for it.

There is a lot of potential in the piece; consider that a careful edit would tighten things up.


- D.
Some very good critiques here. And I am appreciative of the alternative ways of saying what I was expressing (or attempting to express?) in the poem. Although my door is still shut (am still not sold), it’s not locked. I’ll sleep on it.
Do you “buy” Wallace Stevens’ poetry? One of my favorite poems of his is about a glass jar on a hill. I’ll have to re-examine that poem. It’s been a while since I read it. But as I recall, the poet, the projector behind the projection, becomes part of the poem. Wallace at least partially reclaims his projection, mind sees itself in a kind of Zen mindfulness sort of way.
To me, it’s not interrupted flow; it’s lucid dreaming. I have experimented with regular (not in poem projections during wake state) lucid dreaming. Wasn’t great at it, only achieving two or three clearly lucid dreams. Levitating and flying intentionally while aware that I was dreaming. My favorite lucid dream experience though was putting my arm through a wall. I could feel the “knitting” sensation, similar to what I felt on another occasion when the “me” dreamed during a power nap at a roadside rest area (where I meditated on a regular basis) came back into the right side of my body after having looked at me through the car window. By all accounts, it was astral projection. I strongly suspect that we routinely astrally project while dreaming. When I experienced placing my hand through the wall during my lucid dream, I was probably re-entering my body. I think there is a relationship between lucid dreaming and astral projection. My hope is that by “telling” ,as you call it, I am in fact inviting the reader to acknowledge that the poem-dream image is but a projection available to be intentionally reclaimed.
Yes, as in the practice of lucid dreaming, an awareness that you are dreaming tends to “de-stabilize” the dream, and runs the risk of making the dreamer (reader) wake up altogether. “Damn it; it was only a dream!”
But I (and I think Wallace Stevens also) am willing to take that risk.

Still, my door to adopting what you suggest , is not locked. If all I am doing is de-stabilizing and killing the dream, then I really am “all wet”, like the water spilled on the water color painting.
Am I attempting do do something akin to German Expressionism in art, a emergent new form after Impressionism had been in vogue ? Or even perhaps Kantian? Kant responded to the Empiricists by claiming that mind informs objects—not just the other way around. The mind informs the poetic images. Why not acknowledge it? Instead of insisting it hide behind them?
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
As a reader having a narrator tell one exactly how to think and what they should think as they (the reader) actively peruses a piece can be uncomfortable and off putting.

(Almost like a hand in the reader's head, forcing their mind's eye to a specific point saying: look at it only this way...when the narrator was not invited in.)

It fells like a breach of the fourth wall when a narrator takes too prominent a role and doesn't allow space for a reader's own thoughts.

First person perspective is a tricky thing to do and finding middle ground can be a struggle.

Just some thoughts.
 
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darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
I think it is rather elegant.

- enhanced through removal of a 'but' & a 'with', a couple of your 'ings' exchanged for 'eds'...'es'.

Is magnolia a flower type or only a colour? I suppose I should find out. If it was a type I'd enjoy the associations between flower-type and character, if I expressed properly there?

It has an appealing deftness.

Magnolia flowers

press their plush hands together

in the morning,

white-tipped with divinity,

flame-shaped and pointing upward.

At the base of each, a color

approximating fire, but closer

to the violet or purple or indigo

of old church offering plates,


See you :)
Matchu, Sorry I took so long to respond to your question, "Is magnolia a flower type or color?" It is a flowering tree. That is, on years where the frost or cold does not turn the buds brown (which, unfortunately was this year). When this doesn't happen though ( about 2/3rds of the years, here in central Ohio), the flowers are large and lush, creamy white with reddish violet patterns, "two-toned". Breathtakingly beautiful and smell wonderful too. They don't last long, but glorious while present.

We have the old fashion type of Magnolia Tree. There are some of the newer (or just different?) type around here with less white, more violet (of a more purple tone). Those tree's blooms seem more cold resistant. They look good on some years that my two trees end up brown. Such was the case this year.

In the collection of poems, Does it Make a Sound? , I refer to Magnolias and/or Magnolia trees in at least three of the 21 poems.

Sadly, my mother died this year, just a week short of her 88th birthday. And it so happened that it was (as I noted above) a sad, brown, year for the Magnolia blooms. But a few stragglers survived, dotting the brown with the same beauty normally seen all over the large canopy of the tree. This happened around the time I also began to have warm memories of mom which offset the sense of loss.

Below, the poem Letters is a grief processing poem. It is in the "Falls" section of the collection based on the philosophical question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?" The last phrase is title only. The rest (5) are groupings or chapters of poems, most with 5 poems, one or two with 6.

Here is the grief processing poem that makes use of the Magnolia Tree's beauty to remind me of the beautiful person in my life, my mom. Thanks for reading and appreciating the first of the three Magnolia-inspired poems. Hope you enjoy this one too.

Darrell


Letters



My mom

died this spring.

This spring,

our Magnolia tree got too cold.

Its buds turned brown,

couldn’t bloom.



Just the other day,

the first warm remembrance

able to push the loss aside

came over me.

She drew the whole alphabet

onto a big sheet of paper,

and spread it across

the living room floor

one morning.



I explored,

traveled the world of letters,

so busy taking them in

I barely caught the school bus

(like the one I drive these days,

watching the letters arrange themselves

in the seats behind me).



A few late bloomers

on the old Magnolia

survived,

gave a sample

of the tree's brilliance—

just enough letters left

for me to move around

on the floor of my awareness

and make a poem.
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
I liked this piece. It is elegant. The flower waits ....the heart waits...Opening flowers, openings hearts, responsiveness is true praise and prayer(My interpretation.) Lovely! The imagery makes the poem speak. I am no professional...just sharing my reaction. Thank you for sharing.
 

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darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Hi Happy Hippie. I'm fumble-bumbling along here, trying to find the best way to share the whole collection from which the poem Prayer and Praise came. Not sure anyone will find it here or be prone to open up the file. Any suggestions?

Head-scratching hippie,
Darrell
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Hi Happy Hippie. I'm fumble-bumbling along here, trying to find the best way to share the whole collection from which the poem Prayer and Praise came. Not sure anyone will find it here or be prone to open up the file. Any suggestions?

Head-scratching hippie,
Darrell
Start a blog.
and post each poem as a separate page.
When I am back online later I will post instructions.
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Start a blog.
and post each poem as a separate page.
When I am back online later I will post instructions.
Thanks, Matchu.
BTW, I finally got around to a rewrite of the first poem, Prayer and Praise. Taking the advice of two or three members here to use a more active voice and to show more than tell.

Prayer and Praise



Magnolia flowers

press their plush hands together

in the morning,

white-tipped divinity;

a flame points upward.

At the base of each

is the indigo of old church offering plates,

felt-lined. They anticipate gifts.

I offer my attention

and respect,

a strange, but valuable, coinage—

the currency of a heart

touched two-toned, and by softness.

It is as though my whole existence

lay on the plate passed before me,

rests in a prayer which awaits

the full sun.



And then it happens,

a bit later when the radiance builds up,

joyous dance and singing.

Petal-hands open up, reach out,

greet the full exposure of day,

are blown by it,

bruised by it—

whatever the realness brings.

Every bloom surrenders

to the elements of creation,

swirls in wind,

spreads around and across,

praises the bright flower overhead.
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Some really decent imagery, (like the offering plate velvet, but it gets a bit lost). The presentation, however, is very passive. From a reader's standpoint too passive. It is all tell and no show, very much in the style of: See Dick run vs. Dick ran, his sandals shrieking, a squeaking protest against the overheated blacktop. One the narrator says, this is this and that is that. The reader does not have to think...which can result in a reader rapidly losing interest because they don't have to actively engage with the piece.

Reading is an active process but when a narrator tells the reader what to think, how to think, and exactly how it is with a certain piece. (This is fine with some nonfiction, but can be problematic with immersive mediums like poetry.) The reader is left feeling inadequate, as if they are not smart enough to figure out what a paragraph or a poem is saying. This is how telling, rather than showing can come across to readers. The idea is great, the imagery unique, but the narrator's style quashes what works. The third person perspective works, when it flips over to first person (I), is when it becomes too passive.

e.g.

Outlier's Bloom

It bloomed, waxy and defiant
in the shadow of a bluff
maple draped a beast
an old guard of the east

A thousand miles
and thousand more
from her humid
sleepy brackened
marshland home

An alien, her blossoms bright
a battle standard shone
in the dormant dreamscape
of the bitter northern vale

Magnolias are not native in my part of the world, but we do have a number of them in my area. We're just sheltered enough that a few cold hardy ones can survive. They are among the first signs of spring here, blooming weeks before the crab apples, pussywillows, and even the tulips. They are outliers and something I watch for because they are heralds of change. Why am I blathering on about this...Context. Readers always bring their own context to the party. In my head I see this hardy, brave pioneer defiantly in bloom, and encounter a pressed petal instead. Nice enough, but lacking dimension.


- D.
Darkin,
Finally got through my (de)fences and over to a "place" where I could attempt a rewrite of the poem. See what you think. Thanks for your critique.


Prayer and Praise



Magnolia flowers

press their plush hands together

in the morning,

white-tipped divinity;

a flame points upward.

At the base of each

is the indigo of old church offering plates,

felt-lined, anticipating gifts.

I offer my attention

and respect,

a strange, but valuable, coinage—

the currency of a heart

touched two-toned, and by softness.

It is as though my whole existence

lay on the plate passed before me,

rests in a prayer which awaits

the full sun.



And then it happens,

a bit later when the radiance builds up,

joyous dance and singing.

Petal-hands open up, reach out,

greet the full exposure of day,

are blown by it,

bruised by it—

whatever the realness brings.

Every bloom surrenders

to the elements of creation,

swirls in wind,

spreads around and across,

praises the bright flower overhead.
 
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