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Stepping Up To The Plate, Part 15

Go here to see what I'm doing and why. All readers are invited, encouraged, and begged to respond. The purpose of this experiment is to engage in discussion.

"A Taxi Driver on Mars" by Bryn Forley

For me, this reads as a twist on the scifi trope of "people in the future look back and think that those of us in present day are weirdos" or something similar; Wells had his time machine, Clemens his Connecticut Yankee, and Forley his taxi driver. I'm not sure the trope is working for me here--it seems stale.  It's humorous poem, but there are times when either the speaker isn't getting it, or Forley's images are mixed, as in "There was a time silence was in such short supply/People could buy some on a jukebox". On top of that, a lot of the lines, while certainly conversational and capturing colloquial speech, don't ring as poetic for me: "Good job for a dreamer/Someone with a hobby/Able to occupy time spent/Both hanging around the domes/Or traveling the corroded planetary surface"--the line breaks here clip the speech too suddenly, as opposed to the elipses that might have, in prose, broken the speaker's thought pattern but not his speech. This poem is too rough for me to consider it Rhysling worthy.

"Tammuz to Ishtar" by Delbert R. Gardner

As always, insert my comments about retelling a myth in a poem. For me, what stands out is the way the form in this piece calls attention to itself. At best, form should be invisible, and I don't get that sense, especially because some of Gardner's rhymes seem tired; "lips/fingertips", especially, stood out as obnoxious. Also, the rhythm stands out via the line breaks, and what should be rolling, near invisible iambs become marching iambs, each heavily stressed. For example, line 2 has a nice pause, a near invisible caesura, after the second beat: "You came to me with warmth upon your lips," but most of the lines are not so strong. Once the form has drawn attention to itself, I feel something is lost in the piece. The music and rhythm that the form should be is sacrificed, and the poem is lost. On top of all of that, the images seemed week--"warmth upon your lips," "a tingle in my fingertips," "pressed your warming body close to me," etc. Too many of these seem, if not cliche, then simple or easy, with nothing fresh to keep me as a reader interested. This piece just does't do it for me.

"[faint], Wanting the Mouth of a Lover" by Charles Gramlich

Scifaiku and horrorku are hard to put up against longer lyric or narrative poems because they are (or should be) so immediate. Gramlich attempts to capture the vertical Japanese style of haiku in his presentation, which works, because each word adds another layer to the immediate moment of the piece. However, L2 stands out as not the right word choice for my ear; "laughters" just seems off, and in a piece this short, especially in a form like horrorku, word choice is critical. The image of "faint laughters" doesn't work for me, so the piece ultimately fails to capture the horrorific moment it's aiming for, and I'm left wanting more.

"Collage" by Todd Hanks

I don't see this as speculative. I can see how it could be, but I think I'm left wanting more. I feel like I'm only given a scene, and nothing is added or juxtaposed against it to take me somewhere, so I'm left without any emotional connect to the poem. It's an interesting idea, but as it's presented, it simply doesn't resonate with me.

"Six Miles from Nowhere" by Deborah P. Kolodji


As with "Collage," and a few other pieces nominated for Rhyslings, I'm not sure I see this as a speculative poem. Maybe, maybe I can see the speaker having murdered the "you" of the piece, burying them in the desert, and leaving, but that's a real stretch for me. I'm not sure that plot is really there, and if I'm forcing those ideas onto the piece because it's in a speculative anthology. With that in mind, interesting poem, solid juxtaposition, odd lingering line at the end, but I'm not sure it's a solid Rhysling nom.

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