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The Go Board

Terry A

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The tea
wrapped jasmine flowers
through the air     Rain
fell like mist and mingled
in the mind     Unbearably shy
she lifted her eyes.


The hawk on his arm
flapped its wings    flew towards her
he pulled it back
and moved a stone      Smiling
too much and stroking his chin
                 the young night had just begun.



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Terry,  I haven't read this yet, the poem on the page is just pleasing to the eye and I wanted to make note of that before I went on.  All too often we forget poetry is not just for the ear, the heart, and the mind but also for the eye.  The appearance on the page can make the difference in whether it is read or not.    Love it.  Ok, now I'll read.

Oh, and it sings with musical alliteration.  I think I just fell in love.  This poem is romantic, lyrical, and just plain good.  My heart is warmed, I'm smiling and grateful you shared this with us today.

Thank you,  ~~Judi


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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Atmospheric melodrama Terry. Games within games! Genders defaulting to nature's archetypes. Nice use of consonance in S1. Is 'he' the beginning of another sentence? But I guess you are using the line break for a comma pause. I think you do the same with the closing sentence, otherwise the night would have a chin!



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Phil, the last line would sound better if it said-‘The young night was just beginning’ but I must change the ‘smiling’ and ‘stroking his chin’ to reduce the -ing-ness. Will rewrite a little. And ‘he’ should have been capitalized. David has inspired revision. Fine-tuning.

Thanks Judi. You grasp the tension well. Go is a game that provides countless metaphors for life. As does falconry.

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Liked the alliteration. But there are excessive spaces between certain words. For example, there is too much spacing between the words, 'Stone', and 'smiling.'


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Thank you Assaf for commenting. In the absence of punctuation, I use spaces to pace the read. Periods, commas, semi-colons, sometimes feel to interfere with it, as though adding information that isn't necessary, almost an artificial imposition upon the poem, an interference with the energy of the poem.  This is intuitive. whether it works, is another question.

Free verse is the most difficult form to DO WELL for it relies on creating a poem without using traditional poetic form and structure to do the work of determining something as a poem..  But alas, free verse has also created  copious amount of inept "poetry" so prevalent now which has also freed itself from any recognition of how poetic device (imagery, metaphor, sound, line breaks, etc.) must compensate for the lack of traditional form. So it’s a challenge.

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  • 9 months later...
David W. Parsley

How thoroughly charming, Terry!  Apologies for my late entry to the discussion, especially given your kindly phrased shout-out.  Like Tink, I am very much taken by the visual art of the piece, the deft deployment of white space and organizationally posed punctuation.  I confess that I have recently experimented with such techniques in adopting "brushed" versions of my haiku and tanka (see links if interested.)  This is an inspiration.

I am fascinated by the title, comparing a two-person game of strategy often compared to warfare, as the symbol of romantic interplay between the two protagonists.  Yet board-play intrudes only once, and ever so unobtrusively into the poem.  I would like to dispense with technicalities before proceeding with further discussion of poetics, so I will point out that stones in Go are typically clicked down into place and never touched again except to be removed from the board, rather than "moved" as in chess.  Not sure what to suggest, just sayin'.  

Then, too, though certainly introducing an element of shogun intrigue, I am not sure what to make of a man who brings his hawk to such a setting after day has closed.  This technicality left me squirming a bit.

Also I should mention that I was not disturbed by the diminutive "he" at first reading, but upon reflection, agree that capitalization would be most consistent with the form concept you adopt here, a privilege and responsibility of "free" verse.  Now on to the more explicitly poetic stuff!

Terry.  That first stanza really sets the mood for romantic encounter, decidedly Oriental in atmosphere and chivalric charm.  How does poetry do what it does?  In a few brief lines I am drawn into a teahouse setting embowered with jasmine trees holding back an evening mist.  The sense of privacy and mutual fascination is intense, but nothing is clear, as indicated in the mist-mind dichotomy sonically and thematically anticipated by the tenderly wrapped tea-jasmine combination at the start.  A vulnerable tension (this, too, is skillfully drawn as mutual though she be characterized as "shy") is sustained in the r-sounds in wrapped-flowers-through-air-rain, suspended for a few contemplative nasal-mediated whiffs of rain-mist-mingled-mind, then achingly resumed in unbearably-her.  (Am I the only one who infers things about her hair in all that "air" business?  Exquisite!)

Second stanza.  Okay, despite my technical objections above, the symbology and tangibility of the hawk's presence is irresistible.  With the presence of this feral-tame fowl, the poem transcends its genre with a unique element.  Much like the faux-brusque suitor himself, the bird's actions are barely restrained behind a well-maintained rigor of personal conduct and (again) chivalric depose.  But the stone has still been placed and must be answered.  The night is young, as are the couple illustrated, but also will not wait - a sense of opportunity is presented, but it is ephemeral and mortal, as are all things temporal.  And beautiful.  (Consider changing the poem to present tense to add immediacy to this suspended moment.)  Hear the unsettled aspect of the encounter in flapped-flew-moved-stroking verbplay.

I have two quarrels with phrasing in the dramatic development toward the end.  First, "too much" is a judgement phrase, telling rather than showing.  I suggest finding a more subtle way to exhibit this sign of his vulnerability and cause for unease on her part.  And as already discussed, the final line of this inspired piece is far too prosaic.

Please continue to craft this piece, Terry.  I look forward to the next revision, but don't touch it too hard.

Thanks (I think!),
- Dave

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Terry A

Hello David, So good to read you out and about!  Such a grievous error to use the word 'moved' when it should be 'placed'.  I was careless of a poem that, came as a dream/vision. I understand the game, and play most amaturely, but the philosophy it represents is fascinating. The presence of the hawk was to heighten the tension of the poem and to give dimension to the man whose 'chivalric charm' could only be represented by restraint.  Yes, the words 'too much', do nothing for the poem and will be changed. I think I finally understand your meaning regarding judgement; the words were  to alert the reader that the character had his mind elsewhere than just the game. But that is part of the deep philosophy the game represents, where all of life finds some reflection. A Go book quoted a master player who said, "If you want to know another's mind, play Go with them".  Subtlety most characterizes the Oriental mind at its best. 

Thank you for your superb comments on the poem, you have pointed out where improvements could definitely be made. Someone once said, that no poet becomes great without a great critic and all the greats had them. Here you demonstrate the great value of literary criticism.  

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