Vote Now! in the Anthology Thread of the November 2010 SDMB Poetry Contest.

It is 8 PM, EST - the November 2010 Poetry Sweatshop will close an hour from now. In the meantime, I will start posting the poems I’ve received thus far, and I’ll start the poll at 9 PM.

Past poets (and I) have greatly appreciated people’s comments and feedback on the works presented here. I have one simple request - please wait one hour until the Sweatshop officially ends at 9 PM before posting anything else. That way, the first replies are all just the poems. After 9 PM - yes, please, we welcome your input!

I just want to emphasize the importance of voting - the poets are depending for an outside opinion of their work. The poll is by secret ballot, so no one need ever know how you voted. As we did for the last few months, I will make this a multiple choice poll.

Please note that the poll is seeking your favourite poem - no special knowledge of poetry required. Whichever poems strike a chord with you, please give them your vote. And, though the choice will be difficult, please take the time to choose at least one poem.

I also want to mention that because of our working method, all of the following poems will be posted under my user name, which may lead people to think that I am trying to claim authorship. Only one of the following poems is mine - the authors’ names may be found in the spoiler boxes at the bottom of each reply.

The three words this month are:


And so, allow me to present our poets’ work for this November…

This is how we join the Tribe
Of fops that go ‘tween sleep and wake:
Though all the myriad compromises
Of dreams put to rout
Expediency’s inclusion amongst our highest virtues
And all the things that, day by day by wretched day
Wear away at all that once was proud within our souls
Such that the nine to five, and Saturday nights
And Sunday football games
Replace what once had been our dreams
Of glory.

Mr. Excellent

An ox-cart Midas offered to Zeus once stood,
The forgotten artifact of a legend past,
A spear tied against it with a twist of dogwood.
It was half a millennium in that dusty corner,
About 490 years longer than we were together.

Its inclusion in the tale begins with a farmer
Gordias, bringing his wares to hawk,
And lo! an eagle settled upon his shoulder!
So much like the story of how you and I met!
Except without an augury of success.

Midas was the son of Gordias, in days
When all kings were named either Midas or
Gordias. Thus those stories, like all important
Stories, are doomed to be a confused knot,
With myriad twists of fact and fancy.

But that knot, the he-said and the she-said
Of the cart and the kings and the eagle,
And whether I really loved you or was
Just pretending, were as nothing: one day
A new hero would arrive, eagle on his shoulder.

Brave Alexander! You met him working
Alongside at the food kitchen was it?
And lo! he raised his ladle, and in one deft stroke
Cut the knot and laid rout to ten years! as the dogwood
Untwisted with a sigh, and fell to the floor at your feet.


Myriad distracting thoughts
chase in circles -
How to put them to rout?
I am one;
They are ten thousand.
I am too weak to keep them out.

I will tame them by inclusion.
A beam of incoherent light,
While not a laser,
Can still illuminate the darkness.

Le Ministre de l’au-delà

She wanted it to be perfect, of course,
and so it was, with a guest list of great refinement
(her inclusion of a starlet, a pop star and a sports hero
was pure Jessica, giving a particular zip to the occasion);
there was food fit for a king, sparkling silver, crisp linen,
a myriad of wines and liquor, and Mozart softly playing;
the house immaculate, and lit like an ocean liner.
The guests murmured and laughed, pleased to be seen,
quietly proud of having been deemed worthy of an invitation,
resplendent in tuxedos and silk dresses, their jewelry agleam,
while from her garden, a passing breeze carried the scent of jasmine
through French doors flung wide to welcome the crisp nightfall.

No one blamed her for the family of skunks which came in, unbidden;
striped party crashers turning Jessica’s triumph to rout.

Elendil’s Heir

The needle skips the tracks on his arm,
an old broken record playing cracked songs
of regret and guilt and dreams long deferred.
The drug beats a tattoo into his skin
promising to rout the pain for a little while more.

Once long ago he was handsome and strong
fit to be called to the war.
He marched off one morning, he was bold and he was brave
promising his family his inclusion would not be much long.

He was told he’d look for mines so the innocent would not fear
He’d fire no guns, shed no tears.
Now he lies broken, battered and used
his legs gone failing to save a child that should not have been there.
A myriad dreams now lie like the dust
in the cracks he had fallen through.

Now he floats down to the river and a life he once knew
carried gently on the wings of morphine.
He drifts off to sleep away from the pain
and gentle and long may he sleep.

Barking Dog

Dark skinned girl, walking down a dark street, on a dark quiet night.
Red white and blue lights flash at her.
She stops for the officer.
“Why did you stop me?” she asks.
“Why don’t I just arrest you then?” he asks.
She was getting too lippy I suppose.
Kneed twice.
Hair pulled and slammed into the booking desk twice.
Cuffed, Bonds breaks free, but her defense is routed.
He cut her shirt and bra off with a pair of scissors.

Not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE officers hold down one little girl.

Left in a jail cell for three hours.
Humiliated, soiled, topless, indignant.

Now, a diamond in the rough with only a tiny inclusion.
Two years later, a city outraged.
Will myriad victims of torture surface?
And destroy our faith in that fine institution?

Clockwork Jackal

And there - the poll is established. Please enjoy reading the fine works our poets have created, and please, take a moment to cast a vote for whichever poems have resonated with you.

Good stuff, all!

So…how 'bout some critiquing?

I really rather liked “This is how we join the Tribe”. Reminds me a bit of Yeats structually, one of my favorite poets. And the message it tells, of how we, in order to make a life in the adult world, compromise the dreams of greatness and glory we had in our youth. And the general eonwy people experience when they know that the greatness that might once have been theirs is long gone.
At least, that’s kinda what I read. And I think that it’s the best poem of the lot.

I liked the mythical setting, word choice and structure of Phyrigia, 1988 very much indeed.

I actually thought it was one of yours until the end of the first stanza or so.

I will happily take that as a compliment.

I loved the opening images of ‘Broken Record’ - the needle and tracks, the cracked songs. I also quite enjoyed the passing quotation from ‘Barrett’s Privateers’, which was just enough to get the association without jarring.

‘…dreams now lie like the dust
in the cracks he had fallen through.’ was also a great pairing. Very moving.

I appreciated Elendil’s Heir’s comment, and laughed at SfG’s because I told my wife a couple of rounds ago “there’s this one guy whose poems sound like mine when I read them aloud” (and yes it was EH). Speaking of which, I should mention (for those who don’t do it) that reading these anthology poems aloud is a good way to unveil their character, or at least it works for me.

I like Untitled and the way it moves from a series of actions to their ultimate meaning (or as it turns out maybe non-meaning), like a cascade of words and half-thoughts funneling down to a single pointed observation (like a smack on the nose!). Impressive work that spoke to me.

In the spirit of critiquing, I’d note that the poem is sensitive in a sense to that word ‘fop’ at the beginning, because that word drives how we think about the person (us?), and it’s not clear that the author wanted that exact sentiment…or maybe he did? I do offer that minor critique hoping it’s not offensive - we all had a single hour to work with, and I’m already mentally revising chunks of what I wrote (and that’s more than just one word).

The “Barrett’s Privateers” reference struck me as well, which may not have been a good thing: I immediately started looking for other quotes and rhythmic phrases that were similar to “Barrett’s.” Regardless, once I got past that and regarded the poem on its own merits, it was pretty good.

And “Jessica’s Dinner Party” made me laugh!

Ditto, which is why it got my vote.

All right, this is exciting! Any of you who are sitting on the fence, now’s the time to come down on one side or the other. We’ve got a tie - let’s see what happens and who votes in the next six hours.

The poll has closed, bringing the November 2010 SDMB Poetry Sweatshop to an end. First off, I would like to congratulate all of our poets - Mr. Excellent, Maserschmidt, Le Ministre de l’au-delà, Elendil’s Heir, Barking DogandClockwork Jackal, take a well deserved bow.

And, for the first time, we have an actual tie in the voting. After consulting with the poets, we have decided to let the tie stand, so both Maserschmidt and Elendil’s Heir share the honour as ‘Poets Laureate of the SDMB’ for their outstanding works, Phyrigia, 1988 and Jessica’s Dinner Party. Bravo!

I’d like to add a passing note that I’m very pleased about the mutual respect and admiration that all of our poets have for each other, and for each other’s works.

I would be remiss if I did not also thank the Mods for their ongoing help and support for the Sweatshops. It is greatly appreciated.

Best wishes to all, and congratulations again to Maserschmidt and Elendil’s Heir.