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Featured Guest Poet Chistine Crockett

Cloud's Rest

Climbing up, I'd heard that a man had swept
to his death as he'd tried to photograph
the sunlit rust of the canyon. Still, I worked
my way up to the top, touching
the bald crown at sundown. I was met

by the sound of a helicopter rising
from the rubble and shale of the mountain's
spine, and saw the rope sway
in the angled shadows, hoisting the canvas
sack of his weight past a peak

that pierced the sky like an uncut gem.
As I stood in that changing light, my veins
still pulsing from the speed of the climb,
I felt ashamed that I'd watched
for so long, that perfect fist of weight

swing over the ragged lip of horizon.
But there was a beauty that I could trust
in that final point of balance where
his body, suspended in the flaming air
and lifted beyond the thin trails

threading up, entered the folds of the sky.
Left in the flattened shadows, I turned
to open my tent against the winds,
and listened all night for the distant hymn
of my own body breathing.

March, 1999

Christine Crockett's Questions:

The poem is attempting to work on an axiis-- the first half a more objective, "photographic" description of the event, the second half a more personal response to it.

1-Is the reaction of the poet (the "heart" of the poem) effectively communicated?

2-Does the second half answer somehow to the first? For some reason, this "balance" of the two halves seems crucial to the poem.

Hi, Christine: Love it. I don't really see an axis, though I will read it again this evening (its 6 am now). It becomes more intorspective, though, in the last three stanzas and that may, now that I look, be what you meant; if you want to really turn more inward there, you might want to really pare back your language there - hone it so it pulses as your inward thoughts would pushing up onto a summit where you will pitch your tent in view of that last glare on the late day horizon. Your images are great, and if you try it getting rid of any extra words, you may create an bit of anticipation, intensity there, and elsewhere in the poem, too. But I will give examples of lines pared back from the last three stanzas. Also, try refering to the man, once you have mentioned him, consistently as "he" or "his" going back between this more personal from the second line "his death" and he'd tried to a passive "that fist of weight" could imply or foreshadow the peronal reaction later if you used " hoisting his canvas weight" and "his fist of weight" Examples from the last three stanzas to hone it back: I stood in that changing light/pulsing from the climb/ashamed I'd stared so long as his fist of weight/swung over the ragged horizon. [start second stanza with fresh idea, finish last stanza w/last action?] But there was in that beauty something/I could trust[omit "that", usually in prose too] a final point of balance/his body, suspended, [omit in flaming air]{air a weak image]lifted beyond the thin trails threading up/enetering folds of sky/[stanza break]In the flattened shadows, I turned away to/open my tent agains the winds/etc. I would suggest for your consideration also these lines pared back? By a helicopter rising/from the shale of th emountain's spine/saw the rope sway in angled shadows/hoisting his canvas sack past a peak// {and} the first line omit "that" and the second "had" [one or two is usually enough}: Climbing up, I'd heard a man had swept to his death as he tried to photograph... Best of luck with this, its a great one. Cheryl Higgins

USA - Tue Mar 23 03:41:03 1999
Hi Christine You ask about the emotional reaction to the poem, then you ask a technical question. I think the poem is finished, in the meaning that you don't need to work on it anymore. For one thing, it is compressed and polished enough, it's honest and humble and very visual. There is a kind of work which you can not do on this poem, it's the work being done during writing a poem. Allow yourself to be wilder, let the inner confusions burst, put the thoughts about the correct balance in a more distant corner, sometimes the last stanza of a poem can, by itself, balance a whole poem, which is by the way almost what happens in yours.I think the conflict of guilt (for watching the dead man, for wishing death, you who come to photograph the canyon yourself) against life forces (climbing, breathing) is a bit static and predetermined, even if the actual experience was not. The poem is too Impressive (as in impressionism), too describing, and short on assertiveness, on performing an action upon this world. Still, there is something powerfull in your poem. Yours Ori
Ori Shechter
Israel - Mon Mar 29 14:01:44 1999

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