"... as though of hemlock I had drunk ..."

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"... as though of hemlock I had drunk ..."

Postby greymouse » Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:45 pm

Actually, this poem is just called Cough Syrup, but this is a Keats forum! The topic of insomnia came up, and it reminded me of something I wrote a couple years ago. I've battled with insomnia since childhood. Feel free to give crit or advice.

WARNING: Rated PG-13. :mrgreen:

"Fill the plastic cup halfway,
scent of anise stirs my head.
Pour the syrup down my throat,
bitter flavor kicks me back.
Rinse the cup and let it dry.

Maybe I go read a book,
maybe I go surf the web.
Before I know it, it kicks in.
Body tingles, dizzy head;
face grows pale and lips go numb.

If always I could feel like this!
No more aches or throbbing head,
Muscles loose and eyelids droop.
If always I could feel this way,
then I might never want to sleep.

With a fuzzy smile I go
to curl up on sweat-stained sheets.
Begin to nod off instantly,
hallicinate a cartoon scene,
slip into a funny dream.

Morning sun shines through the blinds,
my head is spinning nauseously.
Put in my contacts, shave my face.
Rest my forearms on the sink,
sour stomach, yellow eyes.

Like everyone I have a vice.
Cough syrup helps me sleep at night,
but at a price throughout the day:
Burning cheeks, cotton spit,
seeing spots, and laughing fits."
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Postby AhDistinctly » Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:46 pm

Ah, insomnia! What doesn’t kill us makes us poets!

What I particularly like about your poem, greymouse, is the absolute genuineness of it. For instance:

Fill the plastic cup halfway,
scent of anise stirs my head.
Pour the syrup down my throat,
bitter flavor kicks me back.
Rinse the cup and let it dry.


This stanza has the deliberateness of routine. Even down to the detail of rinsing the cup. Anyone who uses those little cups knows the consequences of not rinsing them out right away.

**Tiny critical thought ahead! (Please feel free to bypass.)**If I would make any suggestion for your poem, it would be to embrace a more varied approach to punctuation (i.e., fewer commas). I was very glad to see you use semi-colons! (I freely admit here that Eats, Shoots & Leaves had my head nodding furiously in agreement at times.)

Before I know it, it kicks in.
Body tingles, dizzy head;
face grows pale and lips go numb.


My first thought here was, "That’s not NyQuil he’s taking!" :shock:

If always I could feel this way,
then I might never want to sleep.


I like the honesty of this line. I wish there was some way to make it the last line of the poem without ruining the flow. Or better yet: the last line of your next poem?!?

Thanks for sharing, greymouse!
...perched and sat and nothing more...
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Postby greymouse » Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:53 pm

Awesome, AhDistinctly. Thanks for the help. You're thoughts will definitely be helpful the next time I take a stab at this. :)

Yes, it's time for me to get hip to the whole poetry punctuation thing because I've been putting it off for so long, and I'll feel a lot better when I just tackle it and get it out of my way. In fact, I may buy the book you mentioned since I heard it's good. It's next on my to-buy list after The Great Gatsby, a tip from dks and Credo Buffa.

It occurs to me from your comments that I haven't been sufficiently strategic with this poem. The author of the poem gives the impression that a half cup of NyQuil is enough to stone a fellow, and doesn't give an indication of the extent of repetition or abuse. In fact, it's not until the end that the reader is given a hint that the author isn't innocently treating a cold! :? That's too late. I need to clarify that if I'm going to convey the proper mood.

I appreciate the help!
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Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:16 pm
Location: Michigan, USA

Postby AhDistinctly » Sun Aug 27, 2006 3:45 am

greymouse wrote:Awesome, AhDistinctly. Thanks for the help. You're thoughts will definitely be helpful the next time I take a stab at this. :)


You are very welcome, greymouse.

Yes, it's time for me to get hip to the whole poetry punctuation thing because I've been putting it off for so long, and I'll feel a lot better when I just tackle it and get it out of my way. In fact, I may buy the book you mentioned since I heard it's good.


I wouldn't recommend the book as a way to tackle grammar -- just a way to feel righteous indignation when encountering grammar accidents (catastrophes) such as, "Apple's on sale" and the like. I would think dks, as a teacher, could provide a very good resource. (I'd be interested in it, too. One can never have too many reference books!)

It occurs to me from your comments that I haven't been sufficiently strategic with this poem. The author of the poem gives the impression that a half cup of NyQuil is enough to stone a fellow, and doesn't give an indication of the extent of repetition or abuse. In fact, it's not until the end that the reader is given a hint that the author isn't innocently treating a cold! :? That's too late. I need to clarify that if I'm going to convey the proper mood.


Or I'm just dense. My money is on that! Still, perhaps you might consider the use quotation marks as a device to inject doubt in the statement, "helps me sleep at night."

*cough, cough* hmm... now where is that cough syrup...
...perched and sat and nothing more...
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