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Find Me

by Iain MacLeod 

Posted: 11 May 2006
Word Count: 300
Summary: Another attempt, which I hope you find something in there that you like. Apologies for being a bit quiet, a dissertation has been occupying my time a wee bit - time to make up for it!
Related Works: Battle • Highland • Lighthouse • No More Sad Refrains • Stillness Becomes Me • 

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For L.

Find Me - version 2

Tramping granite and misery,
gouging wind and fuming hail,
faces flit by, ungenerous, humourless,
and the streets are barren.
Home is uncertain and cruel;
life lived in achromatic, vivid grey.

Yet periodic bursts of your aurora,
iridescent in the dingy gloom,
show how life could be.
Infrequent but sublime,
as though one moment fumbling
and the next striding.

Arms are cast like nets
and I tangle in your exquisite web,
fashioned from the clouds and your desire;
the intangible and the consuming.
I become used to such beauty,
savouring the firing of my heart.

Yet the line is cut by an unseen hand,
and I drift.

I belong to the shadows,
owned by the half-light, dancing in the dusk.
I await the glare of your beam to find me,
and remind me that Iím yet alive.


Find Me - original version

Tramping granite and misery,
gouging wind and fuming hail,
faces flit by with ungenerous, humourless eyes,
and the streets are paved with bitterness.
Home is an uncertain, cruel place;
life lived in achromatic, vivid grey.

Yet periodic bursts of colour, your aurora
iridescent in the dingy gloom,
show how life could be.
Infrequent but sublime, as though one moment fumbling
and the next striding.

Arms are cast like nets and I am gladly entangled,
by the exquisite web you fashion
from the clouds and your desire:
the intangible and the consuming.
I become used to enmeshment in such beauty,
savouring the whirling and firing of my heart.

Yet the line is cut by an unseen hand,
and I drift.

I belong to the shadows, for now,
dancing in the half-light, sticking to the dusk.
I await the full glare of your beam to find me,
and remind me that Iím yet alive.






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Comments by other Members



paul53 [for I am he] at 07:34 on 12 May 2006  Report this post
Iain,
There is much to be commended in this [very much, in fact].

I got the impression of a man striding out laden with art equipment, intent on painting as bold a picture as he can, and not returning home until he has done so.

I sensed also you stretching yourself here, your mind searching for the right words, the gentle but insistent pressure to produce something that would supercede all that has gone before. If that was the case, then you have succeeded admirably.

My only comment would be to look upon times of reading as necessary work - drinking in the words of others [even just drinking in words, I once read through a large Victorian dictionary years ago] - so that when you create the right words may hopefully pop into your mind without you having to search and agonise over the correct one.

I felt you were trying hard to sound unique here, striving to express images differently, at times to the boundary where beyond would be overdoing it. There were almost too many modifiers in this, e.g. "dingy gloom" when each word already suggests the other.

The best way is to relax and just let the words flow from you. Use words sparingly, giving attention not just to what they mean, but also their nuances and inferences. The reader needs to go away and think about what they have just read, discovering the depths themselves.

Years ago, pop records were under two minutes long. You were left wanting more, so you went and played the song again. These days they last forever, and you sigh with relief when they finally end. Similarly, a poem should leave the reader wanting more; it should tantalise rather than explain; it should pose questions rather than give answers. My advice is "less is more". Instead of painting a bold picture, describe the outlines through a mist. Draw the reader in. Horror films make the creatures obscure [fleeting or in darkness] so the viewer looks closer at the screen.

In the analogy of the artist, a few delicate touches will say as much - or hopefully more - than bold strokes.

As it stands, this is a fine poem, and giant strides on from your previous uploads [which were also good but didn't have the stamp of IAIN that this one so obviously bears]. Put aside for a few days, I think you'll find you can return to it with fresh eyes and tighten it without losing anything of the original.

Great strides have been taken by you. Well done.
Paul

Brian Aird at 08:10 on 12 May 2006  Report this post
Paul puts his finger on the good and the bad expertly. A portrayal of love at its most obsessive; only one person could ever rescue you from darkness and gloom - it made me shiver too. I find such exclusive love too expensive, for my taste, perhaps also too damaging. If it's not meant to be, its not meant to be. Lighten up; use your own internal light to see your way out of this; let yourself glow......then you'll see faces in the street in a different light - lit by your own light in fact.


Brian



Iain MacLeod at 09:46 on 13 May 2006  Report this post
Hello guys,

Thanks both for your comments and for having a look. You know when you write something and it just feels indefinably more 'right' than something you've written before? I had that kind of feeling when I finished this.

I take your point about overdoing it slightly in places. Over-egging the pudding is often my problem, so I'll have a look at that.

Your points about being a little vague and obscure are also valuable. I'll try and bear them in mind when I work up the courage to have another go.

all the best, and very many thanks.

Iain

DJC at 04:51 on 14 May 2006  Report this post
Hi Iain,

Yes, I'd agree with Paul here - there are some great images, and overall the piece feels passionate. Phrases like 'vivid grey' are superb, and really paint a picture of the narrator's mood.

For me, there is a big jump between communicating to yourself about how you feel, and communicating to others. Language is such a tricky little blighter, and we might strive for authenticity in writing down our emotions only to find that we have strung together cliches. Although I'm not saying this about your poem, you do sometimes lapse into overblown language, which, particularly in contemporary poetry, many of us are striving not to do. Much of it comes from straying away from the concrete, into the realms of abstract, things that, although you as the writer can understand, us the readers struggle with. Take a line like this:

and the streets are paved with bitterness.

I know exactly what you mean, but it's a bit too abstract for me to really feel how you are feeling. Bitterness is a taste, and might be better expressed within the realms of taste, rather than used as a noun.

One other small thing - you use lots and lots of polysyllabic words. Try to cut these down, to use more short words, as this is often more effective. Read some of Seamus Heaney's work to see what I mean.

I hope some of this is useful. You have the beginnings of a powerful voice here - I very much look forward to hearing more of it.

All the best,

Darren

Iain MacLeod at 10:44 on 14 May 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren,

Thanks for taking a look and for commenting, I appreciate it a lot. I see what you mean about being perhaps a little overblown in places - my supervisors keep trying to restrain me why I write my dissertation too, so I'm trying!

The line you picked up is perhaps the one I was most unsure about, and I'll have a look at trying to express it better. I'll have a look at trying to cut down the length of the words too.

10 points to the first person to guess which Scottish city I live in ;-)

all the best, and many thanks for the encouragement,

Iain

DJC at 17:02 on 15 May 2006  Report this post
Urmm.... Glasgow?

Have you read any Alisdair Gray? If not, read Lanark. It is the Scottish novel in my mind. Utterly bonkers but brilliant.

D.

Iain MacLeod at 21:33 on 15 May 2006  Report this post
Close, but no cigar! Aberdeen, more's the pity, since it can be quite a soulless place. I keep meaning to check out Gray, so I'll have to do that.

If you're looking for some good (if harrowing) Scottish poetry, then Colin Mackay's Cold Night Lullaby, about his time as an aid worker in Bosnia, is amazing.

all the best,

Iain

ccatherine at 16:04 on 18 May 2006  Report this post
Iain

I agree with the others. I think that there is some fantastic imagery here and admire your ability to strive for the bold picture through your words. (something I find very difficult) but I think that you are trying a little too hard which to me makes it hard at times for the reader to understand.

This is however, a very powerful piece which I like very much.

Cathy

Iain MacLeod at 16:38 on 02 June 2006  Report this post
Thanks for your comment Cathy, and sorry it took me so long to respond. I hope you'll like the redraft even more :-)

all the best,

Iain


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