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An Ottava Rima on Self

In Sacramento was I born too soon.
Those days the premature were bound to die,
yet somehow I was grant a doubtful boon
and left alone to live not knowing why.
But two pounds in the manger early June,
sans nails and ears stuck out as if to fly.
For thirteen years my parents had been wed,
at last to birth a creature best off dead.

My sister came about that time next year.
A child of Elven loveliness ideal.
While seizures mine lade all the house with fear,
the daughter cooed in peace and grace surreal.
She seldom cried and was a blissful cheer.
I burned with sickness doctors could not heal.
Great fevers hotter than a summer’s day
would leave me damaged to my dam’s dismay.

When five we trekked to southern lands to bide
and I began to weep for any cause.
Depression in a child needs naught to hide,
thence none did guess aloud of harboured flaws.
A cry baby it did not pay to chide,
relentlessly upon his finger gnaws.
And baby sister grew amain in grace,
a brilliant child of vigor, fair of face.

At nine my parents grew apart and failed.
We saw our sire less and less for that
until when I was twelve he last exhaled.
His fifth attack of heart too much, whereat
the prodigal his wife held as he quailed
wept violently a weak, self centered brat.
His daughter sat in silence as a stone
and never spoke a word of ruthful tone.

I turned fourteen and met George Huntington.
Agone old George had named the rank disease
from which my mommy shook before her son.
It tore her mind away with callous ease.
My sister feared it so she could but shun
the menace of the kind Eumenides.
The withered, mangled, witless human shell
would die inmost a veiled and lonely Hell.

I left our home that ugly, anguished year
that mommy lost the use of both her legs.
The stage was all I felt I need be near
and so I lowered “self” into the dregs.
Surrounded by the vying, drunken queer
I earned my Union Card and emptied kegs.
A paltry time it took and all my nerve
broke down to leave me little to preserve.

Asylum and a sterling plunge complete;
exotic drugs and crapulence of mind.
A year was lost before I gained my feet.
Serenity I never thought to find.
The passion slough a turbid kind of heat
that peeled from me as hyper, cheerless rind.
‘Twas then they gave the diagnostic word,
but I refused to heed. Madmen demurred.

Surrendering to drink I deviled thought
and found at last where all my talents lay.
In role games I allowed my muse be caught
and scarcely held the manic Jinn at bay.
Three years of this I lived and questioned not.
I lived for D&D and wallowed fey.
Reclusive, drunk and craven to a fault,
I knew I best remain locked in my vault.

But storytelling does not live a life
and I still entertained I might have mine.
I hie where unbeknownst to me my wife
would shortly come despite my state indign.
Though burdened by my self inflicted strife,
I strove to teach poor dancers to refine
until a student singular I met.
The least of me with breath still owes her debt.

Today my world is paradise and blessed.
Unquestioned I yet struggle with my soul.
Depression never gives a man a rest,
but with the drugs there’s much about me whole.
Too true sometimes I feel I’m but a guest
in my own life and play once more a role.
But now I draw from out a termless source
of gifted peers…and I shall write of course.

Style / type: 
Structured: Western
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
This is my first post at Neopoet and I am (perhaps understandably) confused by the website. I will work it out in time. It is suggested to me that I post material that is presently a priority. This poem is not and I post it by way of introducing myself while I solve the unique character of the forum. My primary work is a very large epic poem that I have been actively involved with for six years now. It is this work I desire to be "knocked on my back" over. I write in a virtual vacuum and my year long experiment in online poetry forums has been the only feedback I have ever gained. I wish this to continue and seriously, though I am not certain if my epic poem is the sort of piece that will be accepted at Neopoet. If so, then this is very exciting for me. I take my "responsibilities" at a forum quite seriously and though my critiques are not always sugar coated, I have never been rude or accused of being so. I would enjoy comments on the above poem and if I can suss out the site I will reciprocate. Read this poem in no particular context. I desire to be a technically competent poet as well as evocative. I have always been a storyteller, I am a poet through diligent and oft agonizing effort. I look forward to the beginnings of a profitable relationship. wesley
Editing stage: 


A fine tale woven in a beautifully sculpted Ottava Rima. You capture your reader from the beginning and hold tight to the end. Your tale is creatively sad. An old tale told anew. I initially thought the use of the word "mommy" would have been better used as "mother", but upon a second read, the impact of the child voice would have been lost to have done so. Cleverly subtle and astute.

Perhaps a title more fitting to the piece, but I will admit, I was drawn to read when you mentioned Ottava Rima as I am an avid fan of formal verse.

In some lines, I felt the rhyme just a bit forced but not pedestrian at all. I am encouraged to write to this form. It has been quite some time since I have done so.

Thank you for sharing this gem and welcome to NeoPoet. I look forward to reading more of your work.


.. .

~"It's ALL about the Poetry~

Please join us in The Shark Pool

Welcome Wesley, I too was a preemie, weighing in under a little over 3 l/2 lbs. My father created an incubator from a light bulb and a old porcelain tub, lined with many blankets.
Post war Germany, who cared if another child lived or died?

This type of epic poetry, as with the greats, the Iliad, Beowulf, etc... I can only read in short stretches, I suppose I am *undisciplined* and your presence here must certainly undo any lingering qualms about storytelling in verse. You might even inspire me, though my poems tend to work best in haikuesque.

Poetry in the style best suited for us is passion, life lived from the inside out.


Post Script: I have read your poem now two times, homer could have done no less
then for me to repress a singular notice. Mr. Balladeer, simply divine!

One of the best storytellers of all time:

Thank you for welcoming me here. I hope to find it exciting and educational as I take my poetry very seriously. No delusions of grandeur, no publication, but like Pamela I love the traditional forms. This poem was written (as are most of my smaller poems) as an experiment to explore a different poetic form. Therefore it was not a work of art being my first, but a "good old try".
What I have been working on for the last six years of my life is an epic poem. A romantic, fantasy adventure that may be too large for me to offer at this forum. We'll see. Kailashana, your story horrified me, but it was a different world. In truth though, I don't quite see how we survived. Maybe to write. All of your comments were gracious and welcome and obviously not from the shark pool. Maybe later. if any of you have a thought about my posting my larger poem, I would appreciate you speaking up. I hope to see me in the stream commenting on the poetry I find there as soon as I can figure how to navigate the site. Computers and I are barely on speaking terms. Again thank you for taking the time. wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program

author comment

Thank you very much for having a look Xena. I'm not sure I agree with the changes in meter you suggested, but I DID make an alteration based on what you mentioned. Yes it is a first draft. Most of my smaller poem don't make it much past that stage as I am again (as always) emotionally drawn to my epic. This, like others outside of my large poem, are experiments in form with an accent on meter and rhyme foremost, but also an attempt to write quickly and "from the heart". Something that is difficult for me. I am a very mechanical poet and though sometimes I succeed in hiding this, the nuts and bolts interfere with a desired spiritualism in my poetry. Thank you for making the time for me. I now have four poets to search out when I can create the time to enter the stream today. wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program

author comment

Thank you Chrys. It's been very heartening to come to a new place and immediately receive not only a much appreciated welcome, but sincere nuts and bolts suggestions for my work. I am pleasantly surprised.
No, your critique was not harsh at all. In fact I felt that everyone took careful steps around me to keep from hurting my feelings. Appreciated, but unnecessary. This poem is far from my first, but without looking up to my comments above it may have been construed as such when I mentioned it was my first "Ottava Rima". I have been working on an epic fantasy adventure in verse for some six years now and I make regular forays into unfamiliar poetic forms that I not become stagnant. The large poem is the chief reason I have sought out an online poetry forum in hopes of obtaining feedback for this "thing" I write almost exclusively in a vacuum.
Concerning some of your comments if I may- I'm not sure why you suggest I eliminate the "In" or expand "grant" to "granted". In both instances that would destroy the iamb which is a necessary element of an ottava rima and I can't see what it would add to the poem in exchange. The same is true of the third line you mentioned. "His daughter sat in silent as a stone."- this suggestion is not clear to me.
As for my thesaurus, I dearly love the machine, but this was a small work and I had no use for it here. The language of the poem, because it WAS a rather personal look at me, despite the unfamiliar form of an ottava rima, was written in a single sitting drawing on the language styles I use everyday. Though I'm the first to confess to being a little strange, I speak the way I write and I've always thought I was a little boring to talk to.
Your suggestion of the "Olympic Pool Workshop" sounds very much like what I came to Neopoet for. If everyone is as willing and open to offer their honest opinions about my work as you and the others have been, then I can think of very few things that would please me more. How do I do it? I am computer challenged, so the site (being so new to me) has me perplexed, but if I can be led by the nose I will follow.
Thank you for taking the time. For a newbie, it's encouraging.

Rosina, if by chance you have another look here, I hope I didn't give you the impression I was throwing your suggestions back at you. I came here hoping to expand and refine my skills. Every suggestion is gold, for if I can take, at the least, but one positive, poetry altering thought from someone then I take it and run...smiling.
I can only say thank you all for the warm welcome and I wait to be told where to go.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program

author comment

Just how long is it now? I'm wondering because if you post a work over about 2000 words on the Stream it may well not get read. Perhaps as a blog at first, especially if it is a work in progress.

This piece. hmmm. Powerful story-telling and self expression, but I've got a bit of a pet peeve with what I call "Yodaish Inversions", where word order is un-naturally inverted for rhyme or meter. Lines like-
While seizures mine lade all the house with fear, [lade as in laden? a strange archaism]
there is nothing wrong to me with
While my seizures laid all the house with fear, [or burdened?]
Sometimes it is worth sacrificing a foot or two of meter or a perfect rhyme for naturalness of reading.

There are several examples in this work. When writing in epic form it is especially important to let the reader read as naturally as possible "disguising the apparatus" as they say in film theory.

My longest "epic" piece to date, which was also my major work for my MA in Poetry is "Watermana", a paltry 1500 words.

A new workshop on the most important element of poetry-
'Rhythm and Meter in Poetry'

that you like inversions. Fair enough, each to their own, just be careful of the overall effect. They probably work better here in a classic form than they would have in "Once More into the Breach".

A new workshop on the most important element of poetry-
'Rhythm and Meter in Poetry'

Yeah, I confess I tend to like those archaic sounding inversions, but they would truly be out of place in "Once more..." When I wrote the Ottava Rima its purpose was (as almost all small poems I write) an exercise. Wesley takes a new form, figures out its parameters and writes one as close to the acceptable form as possible. No cheating on meter/rhyme. Subject matter approached in the method described as "correct". Writing my epic I spend an inordinate amount of "poetry" time writing in iambic tetrameter with heroic couplets. After all this time I can prove to you it's possible to change that up infinitely. But everything else in me is untaught. And so I force myself to write stiff, stuck in the mud poems of flawless shape. Your comment about the inversion was spot on, but I would have had a stroke if I tried to throw the meter away to make the line read more naturally. In the big poem I use a lot of inversions. Partly because I like the feel of the lightest of them and partly to maintain a light weight faux medieval feel to the poem. It is (for lack of a better term) a "hip" poem dealing with not only witches, monsters, mad kings and war, but also familial relationships, loyalty, trust and on. Now I must go feed so I can get back in and pay up my responsibility to the other fine poets here. Which means you can sigh a sigh of relief and have a few moments of peace again.
Hang loose.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program

author comment

...this IS a well told story, except for being a tad "wordy" in places. If one reads it aloud.....then, one notices the various "clusters" of words with too many syllables. Try it.
Overall, an ecxe3llent effort in that style.
well done!

Neopoet is "newtriffic" !
...from the heart, or a reasonable faxcimile;
david a. goodwin #{:>{)} @==

I will confess honestly that poems this long that rhyme if they don't grab my attention immediately I give up, this Ottava Rima which sounds more like something I'd eat lol is very wordy but the story once I got into it held me to it. Although I do believe less is more sometimes. I do however love to see a poet's first post on a site. So now I have :)

"The perfect woman perpetrates literature as she does a small sin: as an experiment, in passing, to see if anybody notices it - and to makes sure that somebody does." - Nietzsche

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