Lament... by Jay Hill


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Post November 04, 2013, 06:40:59 PM

Lament... by Jay Hill

Well, I’ll follow suit… Without explicating each line (a bad practice, in my opinion), my poem is literally a lament for the lost among our native forbearers. While I haven’t gone through the steps needed to document my native American heritage, my family is fairly certain that we have both Cherokee and Choctaw ancestry (mixed with a healthy dose of Scotch-Irish, Pennsylvania Dutch and German). I am very proud of these and consider it an honor to be a (small) part of these noble people’s rich history!

As for the poem itself, the intent was to create an image of native American spirits marching along a “southern road at night”, sort of a figurative funeral procession, in which their knowledge of (and harmony with) nature is contrasted against modern society’s overly-orchestrated traditions. For me, this really hits home in the second sentence, beginning in line six, when I say that “They know/ the ordered trees… hear their leaves whispering, recognize/ the sound and choose a path according to the wind/ humming through the boughs.” This is contrasted with the “small town cemetery” and its “sleeping spirits” (being lost and forgotten things themselves), suggesting that the memory of long lost native Americans lives on, a point I chose to reinforce more explicitly in the next sentence, by stating, “They are no more and/ still exist….”

The next lines attempt to reinforce some of the same imagery, hopefully adding to the dream-like feeling of a walk down a country road, late at night. But in the closing phrases, I wanted to recognize all the ways that we “miss-remember” things, to assert that memory itself is a random thing. However, I also wanted to contrast that notion with the solemn fact that however we choose or fail to remember it, the plains have been cleared and are in fact, desolate. Perhaps, they always were, but it is far too easy to forget the dead that “walk among us”.

So that's what I was trying to do with this piece... How did it work for you all?

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Post November 06, 2013, 01:20:42 AM

Re: Lament... by Jay Hill

Haunting! A poetic painting! Whispering verbal images!

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Post November 06, 2013, 10:05:05 AM

Re: Lament... by Jay Hill

Well thank you sir! I can always count on you for some kind words. :-)

And I'm very grateful for that. Sincerely.

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Post November 10, 2013, 05:20:44 PM

Re: Lament... by Jay Hill

Wow Jay,

This is an incredibly beautiful poem. You have great concrete images: "Under the moss strung live oak branches, breathing / The frog air, thick with sweat, painted mud red and / Covered in shadow" and " the albino forms of channel cats slurping / Flies from the surface." You do a great job of assembling these images to create the sense of place that is really unique. It's just amazing work in my opinion.

The only line that caused me trouble in this poem was "a tear on the stain of futile memory" since I didn't know whether "tear" here is a tear from crying, or a tear as if something is ripped. I had a similar problem using the word "tear" in a poem of my own once and since then try to avoid using it unless the meaning is immediately clear from the context. Otherwise, I think there is a danger that the reader is taken out of the poem and has to think about what is intended. Just my thoughts on it. :)

John

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Post November 11, 2013, 02:14:40 PM

Re: Lament... by Jay Hill

Wow! Thank you sir! I am all a blush. Those are kind words, indeed. Thanks again!

As for the word "tear", I can totally see what you mean. I was going for teardrops in this instance, hoping to play off the word "stain" later in the same line. But you are correct, the word becomes ambiguous and it can take a reader out of the poem for a second. Thanks for the well spotted critique. I will be careful about using that word next time! :-)

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