Poetic Prose
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Author:  Richard [ Tue Nov 13, 2007 3:25 pm ]
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This is prose into verse, taken from A FATHERS STORY by Lionel Dahmer


These were the videos he had watched:
Blade Runner and Star Wars
Tropical Heat Wave, Rock Hard, Hardmen II
Exorcist III, Hellbound

This was the music he had listened to:
Def Leopards Hysteria, Motley Crue,
His television, two black lamps
Four books on the care of fish

These were the food supplements
That have strengthened him:
Yerba Prima, Vita and anabolic fuel
And the junk food of a careless life,
Doritos and Ruffles chips

These were the things he used
To beautify his life:
An ornamental driftwood,
Artificial peacock feathers, a pair
Of nickle plated handcuffs,
Utterly neutral things

A pair of chemical resistant gloves
Three black handed forks, a drill
A handsaw with five detachable blades
Two butcher knives, now sinister;
Ordinary things like barbecue sauce
And meat tenderiser, suddenly
Unspeakably perverse

These were the chemicals he had used to clean:
Chlorox bleach, Woolworth Pine cleaner and Lysol
The chemicals he used to preserve
Formaldehyde and acetone
And the chemicals he used to kill:
Chloroform, ether, halcion

To break down the flesh
Of the newly dead
Soilex, six boxes

To conceal
The things he had done
Odor-Sorb, also six boxes.

Never had he seemed so lost
Than in the things he had possessed.

It hard to find prose that stand out and makes reasonable verse with the minimum of changes.

This was taken from a Guardian newspaper report, more broadly adapted.

Stagnation became
The way in Hay, the juice
That made the place go round

The young ones had fled,
Leaving relics
Like any dying town

Leaving Morgan and
Mary. Living fields apart,
Sister set from brother

On hills to the west,
Without electricity or running
Water for their bother.

Mary has sheep. When
Not tending them
She walks across the fields

Pulling wool off wire.
Jack's worldly concession is
His radio. It yields

Music, talk, laughter
The stove warms its batteries
But after half an hour

When the working dies
Just the wind is left
Out in the trees, that pours

The rain down entire,
His candle flickering
The embers of a fire.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:51 pm ]
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The Dahmer one is truly sinister and creepy. Clever the way it begins so inocuously and mounts to that hideous climax with the listing of ordinary things.

On a lighter note, my favourite ever prose to poem:

Compiled by Susan Johnstone of the Glasgow Herald, from the speeches of Donald Rumsfeldt

The Situation
Things will not necessarily be continuous.
The fact that they are something other than perfectly continuous
Ought not to be characterised as a pause.
There will be some things that people see.
There will be some things that people don’t see.
And life goes on.

(Dept. of Defense briefing, Oct. 12, 2001)

The Unknown
As we know
There are known knowns
There are things we know we know
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say,
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know we don’t know.


I think what you’ll find
Whatever it is we do substantively
There will be near perfect clarity
As to what it is.
And it will be known
And it will be known to the Congress
And it will be known to you
Probably before we decide it
But it will be known.


You’re going to be told lots of things
You get told things every day
That don’t happen.
It doesn’t seem to bother people that they don’t.
It’s printed in the Press
The world thinks all these things happen
They never happened.
Everyone is so eager to get the story
Before in fact the story’s there
That the world is constantly being fed
Things that haven’t happened.
All I can tell you is,
It hasn’t happened.
It’s going to happen.

(the last three – Dept. of Defense briefing, Feb. 28th, 2003)

Author:  des2 [ Wed Nov 14, 2007 4:41 pm ]
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I today posted the last quote from Elizabeth Bowen's fiction: ... =147731320

I have been meticulously working on these for nearly a year, burning the midnight oil. There are 77 sets of these quotes.
Most I feel would appeal to those who love a poetic texture.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Wed Nov 14, 2007 10:42 pm ]
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She's very rich, Des.

Author:  des2 [ Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:08 am ]
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Appropriate use of the word 'rich'. there, Marion. Poetry is, at least partly, I feel, the use of words with resonances of various meanings...
Elizabeth Bowen was financially rich (although living in England for most of her life, I recall, she stemmed from the Irish landed gentry and very much an Establishment figure) and known for writing prose with a poetically rich texture.

BTW, I have now given a link where the series of EB quotes start rather than end: ... _bowen.htm

Author:  des2 [ Thu Nov 22, 2007 9:16 pm ]
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"From the cosmic point of view, to have opinions or preferences at all is to be ill; for by harbouring them one dams up the flow of the ineluctable force which, like a river, bears us down to the ocean of everything's unknowing. Reality is a running noose, one is brought up short with a jerk by death. It would have been wiser to co-operate wih the inevitable and learn to profit by this unhappy state of things - by realising and accommodating death! But we don't, we allow the ego to foul its own nest. Therefore we have insecurity, stress, the midnight-fruit of insomnia, with a whole culture crying itself to sleep. How to repair this state of affairs except through art, through gifts which render to us language manumitted by emotion, poetry twisted into the service of direct insight?"

from 'The Avignon Quincunx' by Lawrence Durrell ('Constance' 1982)

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:31 pm ]
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We do accomodate death - 'eat drink and be merry etc'

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:42 pm ]
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From 'Death's Men' by Denis Winter. W. Griffith describes a barrage over the trenches:

'The sound was different from anything known to me. It was not a succession of explosions or a continuous roar. I never heard a gun or a bursting shell. It was not a noise; it was a symphony. It did not move; it hung over us. It seemed as though the air were full of a vast and agonised passion, bursting now with groans and sighs, shuddering beneath terrible blows. And the tumult did not pass in this direction or that. It did not begin, intensify, decline and end. It was poised in the air, a stationary panorama of sound, not the creation of men.'

Author:  Mike A [ Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:02 pm ]
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I recently dug out this extract for a thread on 'wintery prose and poetry' (on another MB). I think it's wonderfully poetic prose, not so much for its rhythm, but for its superb imagery.

Suddenly my anxiety was so acute that I wanted to turn and drive back to town; but the road was too narrow, I was forced to follow its interminable windings up and down hill in the lifeless dark. The surface got worse, it got steeper and more slippery all the time. The unaccustomed cold made my head ache as I stared out, straining my eyes in the effort of trying to avoid icy patches, where the car skidded out of control. When the headlights fled over roadside ruins from time to time, the brief glimpse always surprised me, and vanished before I was sure I had really seen it.

An unearthly whiteness began to bloom on the hedges. I passed a gap and glanced through. For a moment, my lights picked out like searchlights the girl's naked body, slight as a child's, ivory white against the dead white of the snow, her hair bright as spun glass. She did not look in my direction. Motionless, she kept her eyes fixed on the walls moving slowly towards her, a glassy, glittering circle of solid ice, of which she was the centre. Dazzling flashes came from the ice-cliffs far over her head; below, the outermost fringes of ice had already reached her, immobilized her, set hard as concrete over her feet and ankles. I watched the ice climb higher, covering knees and thighs, saw her mouth open, a black hole in the white face, heard her thin, agonized scream. I felt no pity for her.

- from 'Ice', by Anna Kavan

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:35 pm ]
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Thanks for that, Mike. Very powerful. I particularly like 'unearthly whiteness which began to bloom on the hedges' and the 'spun glass hair'.

Author:  Journeymouse [ Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:07 pm ]
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Something well known: the opening of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas (a Christmas present).

To begin at the beginning:

It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfounded town are sleeping now.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:32 pm ]
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Bet you're p;eased with Sanata!
You must have been a very good girl last year!
That's a very striking passage.

Author:  Journeymouse [ Sun Jan 06, 2008 5:32 pm ]
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Marion Arnott wrote:
Bet you're p;eased with Sanata!
You must have been a very good girl last year!
That's a very striking passage.

I'm always a good girl ;)

I had to be torn away from the computer, otherwise you would have had the whole of the "First Voice"'s introduction.

Author:  iansales [ Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:07 pm ]
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Woohoo. I've just received a copy of Lawrence Durrell's first novel, Pied Pier of Lovers. I won't tell you how much I paid for it, although it's about half the market price (at least according to First Edition Prices 2006/7).

Author:  des2 [ Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:48 am ]
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I've never heard of that before, Ian, and I thought I was a Lawrence Durrell specialist!
Congrats and let us know what it's about and how it compares.

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