Featured Poem: “Ohio Autumn”

OHIO POEM by Deborah Fleming

Cacophonous flock
above harvest field
spreading their sky-net

sideways falls and soars
medusoid in the pulsing
light of afternoon

under bundled clouds
neither to feed nor mate
before migration

Editing: Example #3

The following poem is by a creative writing professor from Ashland University and editor of the Ashland Poetry Press.  First, the poem as originally submitted:

OHIO POEM by Deborah Fleming

Cacophonous flock
above the harvested field
spreading their sky-net

sideways falls and soars
medusoid in the pulsing
light of afternoon

under bundled clouds
neither to feed nor to mate
before migration

There was much that I really liked about this right off the bat:  the opening line, for example, starts off with a great moment of alliteration and assonance:  “Cacophonous flock.”  Notice the “k” sounds, “f” sounds, and “ahh” vowel sounds, all rhythmically “sound” (so to speak).  The next line, however, causes me to stumble a bit:  “above the harvested field.”  The -ed on harvested and “the” add syllables that slow down the quick and clipped rhythm established in the opening line.  My suggestion was to cut the “the” (though it alliterates with “above”) and the “-ed” so that it reads “above harvest field.”  Try reading the two lines together, and hopefully you’ll see (or feel, or hear, or sense) what I mean.

The other suggestion I made comes in the last stanza, where I suggest cutting the “to” before mate, allowing for the alliteration with migration to arrive quicker:

under bundled clouds
neither to feed nor mate
before migration

It’s a subtle distinction, but, again, if you read it both ways, I think you’ll hear what I mean.  The extra “to” (not necessary for parallel structure here) just does something to the rhythm of the line that throws off the potential power of the closing phrase.

I want to highlight two other notable parts of the poem:  the use of “medusoid” (I’d have to confirm if it’s a real word, but because this is poetry that doesn’t matter, ultimately), an interesting neologism that really paints the writhing form of the flock as it wheels about; and the alliteration and assonance in “under bundled clouds.”  That’s just fun to say!

So now the poem with my suggested changes:

OHIO POEM by Deborah Fleming

Cacophonous flock
above harvest field
spreading their sky-net

sideways falls and soars
medusoid in the pulsing
light of afternoon

under bundled clouds
neither to feed nor mate
before migration

Deborah agreed to these changes, so this poem will appear in #22.  I will also add this separately as a featured poem.

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