Moonlight and ash

Any comments on which of the three versions of the haiku-ish poem below you think best?

1
sun and sea
   a bucket of starfish
your beauty
   moonlight and ash

2
sand and sea
   a bucket of starfish
   smooth in the sun
your beauty
   moonlight and ash

3
sand and sea
   a bucket of starfish
   smooth in the sun
your beauty
   moonlight surf
   a cup of ash

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34 thoughts on “Moonlight and ash

    • Thanks, David. Always nice to get versified feedback 🙂 . My daughter picked # 1 too. (And my daughter has the best instincts of anyone I know. I often send my draft novels to other authors, PhD friends, etc., who give more or less good feedback, but none can match my daughter, whose field is landscape architecture but who has impeccable instincts for what works and doesn’t work in art and lit. All that to say — you’re in good company!!)

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    • Thanks, Steve. I’ll be coming to Europe soon with the old hitchhiking backpack. I’d scratched the UK off the list due to Covid restrictions (and even in the best of times the UK is always waaaay worse on me at the border checks than any Schengen entry point). But I heard you guys are easing up, so who knows. If I’m hitchhiking in France (and I certainly will be) and get picked up by someone heading to the channel … 🙂

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        • Hey, please pass that “old hippies” directive to the border agents. I always love England once I’m inside, but I always get the 3rd degree at the border. So far, they’ve always let me in, but they always seem quite undecided until I’m interrogated, body-searched, and put to the side for a bit to ponder my evil ways. (I’ll be happy to rail on at greater length if I make it to The Turf.)

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  1. So far as I’m able to catch the vibe of haiku (-ishness) I have a preference from among the versions, but hesitate to voice it without being able to articulate *why* I prefer it. This is my small private crusade with poetry in general, the effort to ascertain and express how a configuration of words delivers its payload (or not). A hint as to my own leaning is that I’m not sure how elaboration improves on where you started. I admire you for inviting your readers to weigh in.

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    • I accept your point about elaboration in this case. Also, no need for “why”. Sometimes an immediate reaction is more telling that a critical process mediated by the intellect. At least, they both have their place 🙂

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      • Thank you! You make a good point, and it comes at a good time for me. I need to have more confidence in intuitive response to poems. The other day a awoke mulling your phrases “your beauty” and “moonlight and ash” and reflecting on how I had subjected them to a kind of cerebral scrutiny that wasn’t what poetry always needs (nor were you seeking). It did occur to me then that there could be a cosmic aspect to the phrases, it being around Ash Wednesday. Poetry invites rambling associations!

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  2. Baba Ram Dass — the name — is familiar to me from some kind of past exposure (reading). My guess would be either an Eastern master who influenced the Beatles, or maybe from Christopher Isherwood’s writings about “my guru and I” (an approximate title). I read several of his books too long ago to recall much. I know in the age of Google these matters can be clarified in nanoseconds, but I’ve come to enjoy the luxury of letting myself remain in doubt for periods of time before resorting to the Internet! It’s simply too easy these days for me to appear more learned than I am. 🙂 Best regards.

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    • Not to ruin your doubt 🙂 , but Baba Ram Dass was Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard psychology professor who teamed up with Timothy Leary to get kicked out of Harvard and fuel the explosion of LSD culture in the 1960s. His philosophical musings on LSD led to a pilgrimage to India, and when he returned he was “Baba Ram Dass,” one of the great spiritual gurus of the hippies 🙂

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      • My doubt is well ruined. Your superb note had slipped past me. I know the broad outlines of these events, but I wouldn’t have remembered Alpert’s name. Most of my experience of the culture was through reading in a haphazard way. I was leery (ahem) of acid. They were salad days for a confused provincial naif. 🙂 Best regards!

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        • hahaha. You’re in good company. A lot of academic administrators and FBI officials were also leery of Leary. On second thought, I’m not sure that’s really good company 🙂 How about we put you with the confused provincial naif played by John Savage in the 1979 film version of “Hair.” Company you can feel good about 🙂

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          • Your mention of Savage, not an actor I know, and “Hair” the film, which I recall as having been performed naked on stage (?), will send me to Google straightaway! I can still hum snatches of the theme, which always leads me into “Almost cut my hair” by Crosby, Stills and company. I confess to having fallen afoul of the academic lot though not the FBI (to date, knock on wood). You’re “right on” about where the good company is!

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