If you have ever wondering what goes on in the mind of a poet, then you are not alone. One of the great advantages of being part of Scribble the Echo is the chance to ask "Poet, what was in your mind when you wrote this? " As Christine Schiff often used to say. In this case however, the querent was Nate Cull, whose questions appear in Italics in the following article. Originally a three message response to some detailed questions, posted on 2 June, 1995.
NATE CULL wrote this in a message to TERRY BOWDEN:

NC>  A strange title... a sense of conflict already.  (Paradise
NC> as in the  New Zealand landscape?  Concession implying a
NC> situation very  un-paradise-like, somehow partially
NC> influenced by the land?)


            1. passport as in a concession ticket
            2. as a noun from concede (to surrender)
            3. a granted right of ownership
            4. audio phonic similarity to confession
 All these were buzzing around as connotations and permutations..

 TB> My guts too bleed
 TB> bleed too much
 NC>  Sounds very painful... but why?

 Meaning is one thing - I was influenced by Christine's "hedgehog"  poem, with its guts bleeding, and also by the process of painting some posters with a red felt pen one afternoon. You were there, too.

 Form is another - "guts" rhymes with "much" forming the chiasmus  figure of speech as in

             guts        bleed
                      \    /
                       /   \
            bleed       much

 TB> this is a staunch poem

NC>  I'm not quite sure what 'staunch' connotes... the
NC> 'dictionary' meaning  I think implies facing pain bravely,
NC> which would make sense in this  context.  But it seems to
NC> have an informal meaning these days, implying  "macho
NC> maleness" and brute aggression... a bit like your
NC> 'Disinterrogation'  performance.  Is that what you intended?

 It is a precursor of the later use. I used it in such a way as to leave it open to two interpretations, "stoic" and "bleed-stopping" (hearkening back to the preceding guts - bleed image)

 TB> a moon flashed
 TB> a star clashed
 TB> a sky lashed
 TB> a cloud crashed
 TB> a sun bashed

NC>  Very violent, jarring images here... a sense of universal
NC> discord.

 That's clever, you extracted these lines. My manuscript also has these lines together, with arrows drawn to the insertion  points in the draft of the rest of the poem. It just started  out as "a star crashed" and developed into other forms to weave a persistency into the poem. A persistency of moon-star- sky-cloud-sun which in turn lead me to the paradise in the title.

TB> a chilled lyric
 TB> served over ice

NC>  Implying bitterness, vengeance, glibness?

 TB> like Alice in envy
 TB> green with greed
 TB> her biscuit well bidden

NC>  ??? Huh???  I'm sorry, you've totally baffled me here.

 "over ice" - "envy" - "green" = "greed" are another persistent theme. "over ice" is an audio phonic pun which, when you play it to your ear in conjunction with the other words becomes "avarice". Since Paradise is a religious image, you can see the antithesis in these anti-virtues, which should help with the Concession in the title.

 "Alice in envy" or "Alison Envy" if you want to go audio phonic again can be Alice Thorpe reciting her wonderful Envy poem, or a personification. Alice can also be Alice in Wonderland...

 TB> a star clashed
 TB> on the beach
 TB> lovers walk in a rain
 TB> thigh to thigh
 TB> each a hand
 TB> clasps anothers hip

NC>  Um... very sensual imagery, seeming quite out of place
NC> among the rest.

 There is no punctuation, which helps the star clash to occur "On the Beach". You could associate the star-crossed idea, too.

 TB> a sky lashed
 TB> sand clags bare feet
 TB> clings as to each
 TB> their ownership

NC>  Again I'm getting confused, and I don't like being
NC> confused.  :)  It gives me a headache.... and a sense of
NC> lurking discord again.  Vaguely disturbing.

 Some artists paint so as to portray what they see, and you get realistic art, portraits, still life, landscapes. Some artists paint unseen objects, capturing something imagined or felt that have no concrete viewable touchable reality, and you get abstract art. Poets are allowed to do the same with words. Does a painting of "desire" or "humiliation" give you a headache?

 It's raining, or has rained, and you walk on a beach, the sand is not soft, it is claggy and clings to your feet. The lovers walk with arms around each other, hands resting on each other's hip, crossing at the back, forming a cross of unity. But "On the Beach" has some sombre undertones, and unity is threatened by global disunity, post-nuclear. Love is sometimes selfish, greedy, with an illusion of ownership, but most would question whether that is love at all...

 TB> a cloud crashed
 TB> she'd gone to see
 TB> desire over-reach

NC>  More disturbing, but still vague, imagery.

 Listen to the words in your head, and pick up on the deliberate absence of punctuation. Hear the "gone to seed". Selfish love symbolized by cloud crashed (thunder? or nature gone wrong?) There's an internal rhyme in "she'd / seed" too.

 TB> a sun bashed
 TB> in truth do you know
 TB> staunch is the flow

NC>  As a play on 'staunch the flow'... moving back to a clearly
NC> defined  image of pain, loss, conflict.

Listen to "staunches the flow" to get another angle, and yet, paradoxically . . .

 TB> still guts do bleed
                       "and yet / unmoving"
 TB> do bleed too much
NC>  And right back to where we started... but with no idea how
NC> or why.

 back to the cross - not too heavy I hope?

NC>  The overall impression is very tortured, tormented,
NC> chaotic... a glimpse  of happiness shattered with anger,
NC> crazed, half-realised dreams, and a  strong feeling of
NC> hopelessness, frustration, and disorientation.
NC>  Scary stuff, Terry... may I ask, what prompted this poem?

 I set out on an exploration of sound and form, of multiple levels of meaning, and to make a genuine attempt to talk through thE persona of a troubled being, who is worried about such issues as life and death, reward and damnation, sin and virtue, mankind's self-destruction or salvation, the ways in which nature can reflect one's moods. I don't have to feel about such things myself, but the persona who expresses these ideas probably feels very strongly about them.

 "in truth" the poem comes from somebody else who was visiting my mind for a while.

      Terry Bowden