The turning

Any closet novelists, short story writers, script-writers or prose poets out there?
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Leaf
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Sun Jan 16, 2022 12:36 pm

Hello :)

This is an attempt at a prose piece, an ekphrastic thing. Sorry if it's rubbish. It's based on this picture, https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-col ... e6d301e8c1


The turning

The doctor's voice fades, fades, I become more and more aware of the sound of water, the rhythm of water, a lapping, I open my eyes.

Blue sky, white clouds, puffs, trails, then the prow of a boat, the blue water. And across the water, something singing on the bank, an angel?! And beyond her, another, wandering with a man in the shade of trees, so many trees, all in full leaf, in fruit, and a peacock, feathers fanned, crooning, so beautiful! I must be forgiven, I have a place in Heaven! I weep. Thank you, God. Thank you.

I breathe, at last I can breathe again, no pain, no cancer, all gone and only the beauty, the forgiveness, the angels.

Suddenly a smell, a stench, meat, burning. I turn to the other bank and see… horrors! People, thrown into flames, screaming! Fields of mud, shit, people thrashing, sinking, wailing!

Please, God, not here! Please, forgive me!

This is your place. A voice, deep, gruff, above my head. I look up, a mass of man, feet, calves, thighs, genitals covered in blue and white, like the clouds, then stomach, chest, arms, shoulders, face, blue eyes, so cold. Charon.

Please, not to Hell! I wail. I beg, I cry, but he stands over me, the mass of man, the blue eyes, frozen.

The boat is turning, turning towards Hell, a gatehouse, people weeping, one man hanging over the top of it, trying to die again, and by the gatehouse, the three-headed dog, Cerberus, one head sleeping, one sniffing, one staring. Please, God, not here! Please, forgive me!

This is your place. Charon, relentless, steers us closer, closer, over the blue water, beneath the blue sky, his blue eyes frozen.
Macavity
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Sun Jan 16, 2022 5:27 pm

Scary nightmarish stuff Fliss. You make it feel real, which it was to believers of the period. Yet, this is the fever of a contemporary mind, perhaps visions induced by morphine (the mention of cancer made that thread for me).
The doctor's voice fades, fades, I become more and more aware of the sound of water, the rhythm of water, a lapping, I open my eyes.
To me this was a disconnect with the hospital and sinking inwardly. The opening of the eyes was ironic in that sense, since this mind is locked inward looking. I presume the comma punctuation is there to reinforce the flowing inevitability of the sensations.
Blue sky, white clouds, puffs, trails, then the prow of a boat, the blue water. And across the water, something singing on the bank, an angel?! And beyond her, another, wandering with a man in the shade of trees, so many trees, all in full leaf, in fruit, and a peacock, feathers fanned, crooning, so beautiful! I must be forgiven, I have a place in Heaven! I weep. Thank you, God. Thank you.
The consciousness flows from sky to boat to water to land...the focus coming to details...the feathered peacock. Here the mood is thankful and joyous.
I breathe, at last I can breathe again, no pain, no cancer, all gone and only the beauty, the forgiveness, the angels.
A sense of release, the escape from the prison of illness, though the mention of forgiveness made me wonder. What needs to be forgiven? Or was there a sense of being punished with illness?
Suddenly a smell, a stench, meat, burning. I turn to the other bank and see… horrors! People, thrown into flames, screaming! Fields of mud, shit, people thrashing, sinking, wailing!
Effective switch from sight to smell to sight...ethereal to 'realities'.
Please, God, not here! Please, forgive me!
This put me in the mind of a believer. I see guilt/forgiveness very much a religous construct.
This is your place. A voice, deep, gruff, above my head. I look up, a mass of man, feet, calves, thighs, genitals covered in blue and white, like the clouds, then stomach, chest, arms, shoulders, face, blue eyes, so cold. Charon.
I wasn't sure about this description Fliss. Felt like a list. He seemed to have more substance in the picture for me than sky and clouds? There is a wildness about him. The indomitable element come through though.
Please, not to Hell! I wail. I beg, I cry, but he stands over me, the mass of man, the blue eyes, frozen.
the mass of man is effective, though you have already mentioned this.
The boat is turning, turning towards Hell, a gatehouse, people weeping, one man hanging over the top of it, trying to die again, and by the gatehouse, the three-headed dog, Cerberus, one head sleeping, one sniffing, one staring. Please, God, not here! Please, forgive me!
trying to die again...really gets into the desperation.
This is your place. Charon, relentless, steers us closer, closer, over the blue water, beneath the blue sky, his blue eyes frozen.
Like the repetitions of 'blue'. I do think you enter into the horror, convey that horror, and fix and blend the medieval mindset into the 'drugged state' (as I presumed).

Hope that helps some Fliss. I want to digest some more before further commenting. I've been summoned to meal prep! :lol:

best

Phil
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Sun Jan 16, 2022 9:17 pm

Macavity wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 5:27 pm
Scary nightmarish stuff Fliss. You make it feel real, which it was to believers of the period. Yet, this is the fever of a contemporary mind, perhaps visions induced by morphine (the mention of cancer made that thread for me).

Evening, MacPhil! Thanks for taking a look at this. Yes, pretty scary and nightmarish, lol. I'm glad it feels real; I was trying to channel the soul in the boat as actually experiencing the trip to Hell, but perhaps that hasn't worked. Morphine visions is certainly a reading; I know this because I've been on MST (the slow-acting tablets) since June 2020. Just a low dose, though :)

The doctor's voice fades, fades, I become more and more aware of the sound of water, the rhythm of water, a lapping, I open my eyes.
To me this was a disconnect with the hospital and sinking inwardly. The opening of the eyes was ironic in that sense, since this mind is locked inward looking. I presume the comma punctuation is there to reinforce the flowing inevitability of the sensations.

The idea with the opening eyes is that N has died and woken up in the boat. Yes, going for a rather informal comma style to try to make it stream-of-consciousness type thing.

Blue sky, white clouds, puffs, trails, then the prow of a boat, the blue water. And across the water, something singing on the bank, an angel?! And beyond her, another, wandering with a man in the shade of trees, so many trees, all in full leaf, in fruit, and a peacock, feathers fanned, crooning, so beautiful! I must be forgiven, I have a place in Heaven! I weep. Thank you, God. Thank you.
The consciousness flows from sky to boat to water to land...the focus coming to details...the feathered peacock. Here the mood is thankful and joyous.

It looks like this paragraph is working, so that's good!

I breathe, at last I can breathe again, no pain, no cancer, all gone and only the beauty, the forgiveness, the angels.
A sense of release, the escape from the prison of illness, though the mention of forgiveness made me wonder. What needs to be forgiven? Or was there a sense of being punished with illness?

Earlier drafts of this piece made it clear that N has committed crimes, hence being taken to Hell rather than Heaven. I haven't decided yet, but I think he might have passed away in prison, on a life sentence for murder.

Suddenly a smell, a stench, meat, burning. I turn to the other bank and see… horrors! People, thrown into flames, screaming! Fields of mud, shit, people thrashing, sinking, wailing!
Effective switch from sight to smell to sight...ethereal to 'realities'.

Hooray, the switchy-bit is working :D

Please, God, not here! Please, forgive me!
This put me in the mind of a believer. I see guilt/forgiveness very much a religious construct.

Yes, a believer. Perhaps he sought forgiveness while in prison? I might have to research this, to make sure it's historically accurate.

This is your place. A voice, deep, gruff, above my head. I look up, a mass of man, feet, calves, thighs, genitals covered in blue and white, like the clouds, then stomach, chest, arms, shoulders, face, blue eyes, so cold. Charon.
I wasn't sure about this description Fliss. Felt like a list. He seemed to have more substance in the picture for me than sky and clouds? There is a wildness about him. The indomitable element come through though.

Yes, it's a bit of a list, MacPhil. The blue and white refers to Charon's fashion accessory, whatever it is. Some sort of wrap? It's a bit precarious, I think. You wouldn't want to wear it to Tesco. He is wild, yes.

Please, not to Hell! I wail. I beg, I cry, but he stands over me, the mass of man, the blue eyes, frozen.
the mass of man is effective, though you have already mentioned this.

Oh, 'mass of man', again. I think I want N to sound slightly derailed, hence repetition.

The boat is turning, turning towards Hell, a gatehouse, people weeping, one man hanging over the top of it, trying to die again, and by the gatehouse, the three-headed dog, Cerberus, one head sleeping, one sniffing, one staring. Please, God, not here! Please, forgive me!
trying to die again...really gets into the desperation.

Yes, despair. I zoomed in to see what was going on there.

This is your place. Charon, relentless, steers us closer, closer, over the blue water, beneath the blue sky, his blue eyes frozen.
Like the repetitions of 'blue'. I do think you enter into the horror, convey that horror, and fix and blend the medieval mindset into the 'drugged state' (as I presumed).

Hope that helps some Fliss. I want to digest some more before further commenting. I've been summoned to meal prep! :lol:

Yes, blue blue blue. I'm glad it's sort of working, maybe? Do continue to digest; I hope the prep went well. I had chicken soup this evening :)


best

Phil
Thank you! Sorry if I've done the quote thing strangely.

Bw,
Fliss
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 5:55 am

hi Fliss

The prep consisted of peeling, slicing and dicing...nothing murderous...all veg :D My son did a vegetable curry. Very tasty :D

I think my reading of your work Fliss was skewed by my own mindset towards religion and the doctor/cancer/hospital scene that I imagined. The fact, the individual was guilty of actual crimes does give the piece a filter for reading. It makes me wonder how far forgiveness and punishment extend. Especially when the context is a murder that resulted in a life sentence (and an after life sentence). I think this is an interesting question and would anchor the read in a contemporary rather than medieval frame of mind. Just my view of course.
And beyond her, another, wandering with a man in the shade of trees, so many trees, all in full leaf, in fruit, and a peacock, feathers
Is the peacock a symbol of something Fliss? I also wondered about the gender of angels, but that could be my ignorance? The abundance comes across in the scene.
Suddenly a smell, a stench, meat, burning
Yes, the thought of human flesh - the 'meat' - does translate the horror.
A voice, deep, gruff, above my head. I look up
Does the 'I look up' imply 'above my head'? Interesting how you describe the voice (humanises).

I wondered why you chose prose Fliss (you are such a talent with rhythm and rhyme). Does prose give you options that are limited by verse? Perhaps that stream of consciousness, its free flow, is a state of mind that feels more true?

best

Phil
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 8:02 pm

Hi MacPhil,

That's some impressive prep! I've just realised it's been ages since I had a curry 🤔

Thanks for returning to this and considering a few things. I'm wondering about forgiveness and punishment too. While researching a few things about the image, I came across the notion that the soul decides whether to go to Heaven or Hell. I wasn't sure how to express that, unless it has to do with something like external versus internal forgiveness of sins. So a sinner might confess to a priest and receive forgiveness, but their soul remains unforgiven insofar as they can't forgive themselves. Perhaps that's a more contemporary reading, though? I'm not sure where I am, sometimes.

I spotted the peacock in the image when I zoomed in; I assumed he was there simply to be beautiful, perhaps to represent some ideal design. Now I come to think about angels, I go to Milton; I think he said they have rather indeterminate genitals, lol. So that's also something to consider for the revision.

I'm pleased the meat provides the horror. It is pretty grim!

Yes, going for 'above my head' there. This Charon seems human in comparison with the Charon of Dante's Inferno, who is more of a beast figure; more interesting, really!

As you now know, I attempted a sonnet and am considering hex rather than pent. The stream of consciousness does feel truer to me for registering the soul's experience as shown in the image, but I might see how things go with the hex. I suppose I could submit both a poem and a piece of prose :)

Bw,
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 10:29 pm

I wasn't sure how to express that, unless it has to do with something like external versus internal forgiveness of sins. So a sinner might confess to a priest and receive forgiveness, but their soul remains unforgiven insofar as they can't forgive themselves. Perhaps that's a more contemporary reading, though?
I'm inclined to answer 'yes'. The judgement and forgiveness came across as external to the individual. Similarly the concept of hell rather than the more contemporary hell being internal, a self-created state of mind. Perhaps self-forgiveness is an impossiblity in such a mindset. Either way your write prompts thought!
I suppose I could submit both a poem and a piece of prose
Makes sense Fliss (after your success with the free verse piece)

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MacPhil
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Tue Jan 18, 2022 12:10 pm

Cheers, MacPhil!

This is just a quick visit for now, due to the old workload, but I'll certainly continue to think about these things. It interests me that there might be an ultimate justice after death, distinct from human attempts to apply justice during any person's lifetime. This all runs contrary to Epicurus via Lucretius, who believed that, if there were any gods, they were so tranquil that they didn't concern themselves with humans at all. He didn't believe in an afterlife. Dante has Epicureans punished in Hell, for not believing.

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Wed Jan 19, 2022 9:37 pm

This was difficult to read because of all the pain in it. I'm not going to critique because prose poetry just isn't my thing. My suggestion is to put it in some kind of form, but then it might be less therapeutic.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
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Thu Jan 20, 2022 1:59 am

Hi Caleb,

Thanks for your comment :)

I'm not sure where I'm going with this one yet, but I still like the idea of writing both a prose piece and a poetry piece.

Re. the latter, so far I've written a sonnet. The turn to Hell in the image just seemed apt for the form, but I found I didn't really have enough room for everything I wanted to describe. The sonnet was in IP, so I'm wondering whether IH (hexameter) might be better. What do you think?

It's a bit late here now (coming up to 2am), but I hope to pop in tomorrow (i.e., later today!).

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Mon Jan 24, 2022 4:47 am

Sorry, Fliss, I wasn't paying attention. I have had covid lately and have been sleeping long hours.

I'd have to see the sonnet in order to advise you.

My experience is that prose poetry is a form unto itself. I don't think of prose poems as "poems", but rahter as "vignettes". They are shorter than any other prose form, and their purpose seems to be to convey information in a pithy manner more then to be beautiful. My poem "At the Market One Day" (posted not long ago) is the only prose poem I have written, and the form seemed perfect because the poem was focussed on a conversation.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
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Mon Jan 24, 2022 8:30 pm

Hi Caleb,

No problem at all. I haven't logged in for a while, as I've been very busy with work, unfortunately. I'm sorry you've had Covid and I hope you're getting better now. My older brother had it a few weeks ago.

The sonnet I mention has been upgraded, hopefully, to a new poem composed from the perspective of Charon. Here you are:


Row, row, row

Another day, another soul to Hell.
The usual stuff for me. The questions first.
"Where am I?" and "Who are you?" Anxious, shrill.
No answers, as He orders, for The Cursed.

Truth is, they know already. Always do.
Can't stand to look at Heaven. Too much pain.
The angels. All that, what's it? Verdant hue?
Those bloomin' trees. Just too much for the brain.

It isn't easy, looking at the fires.
The baddest burn for all eternity.
And hearing all those screams. Satanic choirs.
The shitting fields. I wouldn't like that, me.

Some beg: "Please, Charon, turn the boat around!"
Some offer favours. Blimey. Things I've seen.
But in the end, they have to settle down.
No choice. I row. The dogheads waken, keen.

Positive feedback so far, from our own Phil and John Isbell over on CB.

I agree that prose poetry is a form unto itself. I need to research it and read examples; to that end, I'll take a look at yours, once I've met my deadline :)

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Mon Jan 31, 2022 6:21 pm

Hi Fliss,
Really impressive sonnet plus two.
Workshopping at its best! What or where is CB?
Best, Jules
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Mon Jan 31, 2022 9:35 pm

Hi Jules,

Thank you! CB is Critique Boutique, another poetry workshop site. I built it for Mike Burch, editor of The HyperTexts; he named it and suggested using Quora for it, but we don't tend to hear from him much these days. However, my friend John Isbell, who used to post on the Eratosphere, posts a poem every day, and Phil pops in now and then, which is great! I just wish I had more time for writing generally, but a lot of that has to do with taking on too much work (oops).

Anyway, thanks again for enjoying this thread. I'll try to catch up with my commenting soon :)

Best wishes,
Fliss
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