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1955

Mother wakes at five thirty in the morning
even Sundays, though the newspaper hasn't been delivered
to me sitting at the top of the stairs.
She squints at me with Hitchcock eyes,
says that my bathwater is turning light gray, it's time to get in.
Sundays, we go to church, which isn't-just-a-social-thing-young-lady.
I'm here because I would neverever ask for anything else
if she bought me a dog.

It dawns, and her voice percolates my future, drip
drip drip, we say Scholarship.
I have a hard time knowing her
without her glasses
and her makeup in its technicolor glory.
She drives me to school every day, to save on parking.
Trucks and equinoxes blow past us as I stare out the window,
drawing pictures in the condensation with my thumb.

Sunburned afternoons
She says did you know that Beethoven
never saw the sea?  Later we should go to the beach,
she'll show me a picture of a furtive flute of a girl
in a poodleskirt and a yellow-spattered room.
We can walk up and down the sand together
but it makes us uncomfortable to look at the sea
so we'll give up and squint against the brine.
Of course, we don't have time this afternoon
but we will soon.

Evening, mother wears an apron made of iron
and cooks like a woman who's angry at pans.
Her eyes flicker towards the ceiling
which is covered in white paint and invisible pancakes.
Sometimes we argue and I say
the only thing stopping her from slitting her wrists
is fear that the paramedics would notice kitchen floors had
waxy yellow buildup.
She screams do I think that's funny.
I say that I do.

At night when I'm not sleeping
ironing board is folded up in the closet like Tutankhamun
she is lying still with her hair spread over the pillow like a book
glasses off, caps shut.
She's going to wake at five thirty in the morning
before the newspaper, to see me sitting on this stairwell,
and she will blink,
and I will live on that contact
until tomorrow morning.
True story dude like whoah
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:icondulchis:
Dulchis Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2005
you should take a look at 'catching'. He has a poem called mother, which is exactly like yours.
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:iconshackell:
shackell Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2005  Student Writer
You've already received a lot of valid criticsm that I agree with, so I'll see what's left over for me to say in my sick state. (If I were healthy, i'd probably have more to say)...

Surface Impressions: A day-in-day-out story of a domineering parent driven organisationally mad and conservative (in outlook, experience, and opinion) and is virtually incapable of relating to her progeny, and at the end of every day, once her drive has been sated, she lowers her defenses for but a second at night and the child responds that most from her mother.

Stanza 4: The double-meanings here are great, giving the humour a different flavour. and I think it would help the setup if you removed the comma from "Evening, mother wears an apron...". Since she percolates earlier, you could make another kettle reference here.

Bah... My brain is busted. :dead:
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2005
Thank you very much! I'm seriously considering the kettle thing.
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:iconjustb:
justb Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2005   Writer
and she will blink,

(can't use this either) because it's not formal. I would like to see you take a pause as in put a period in the last line and start this line with a capital if only to get that momentary pause that you breathe and accept that this all happens again tomorrow.
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:iconjustb:
justb Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2005   Writer
At night she lies still with her hair spread over the pillow
like a book and the ironing board folded in the closet like Tutankhamun..

I think this ties the poem up nicer...

if you put too much information into the ending stanza, you lose a little bit of the majesty of this that is provided by the way which you mimic your mother. Anyway, that'd be my two cents worth.
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2005
Hmm. Thank you darlin'. :heart:
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:iconjustb:
justb Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2005   Writer
You're welcome, Adah. I'm happy you've decided to stick around and keep submitting your work. You have the greatest legs...er...poems...
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:iconiownavampire:
iownavampire Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2005   Writer
absolutely brilliant! i had to read over that twice becuase it was so good. you are a very talented writer!
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2005
Thank you!
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:iconhoodimann:
Hoodimann Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2005
I will do teh bestehst I can, love.

Title: teh hotness.

First stanza:

First four lines, fine. Final lines, fine. The only thing which I will bring up, and it's truly more out of curiosity than anything, is the continuation of the dashes even through "young-lady", instead of a comma offsetting it. Did her inflection not vary even then? Just curious! (Other people reading this critique feel free to rip me a new one if something I suggest or bring up would detract. I don't mind going out on a limb; nor do I mind the risk of being embarrassingly wrong, as long as my point has been brought up and addressed.) End of this stanza = heartrendingly cute.

Second stanza:

? Wow. I remember the original...or at least the other version. I hope this was changed once you knew you were entering the contest, and have decided that you know, at least somewhat, the audience. I can't recall the exact phrasing of the other version, so it's rude for me to say this; but my intuition tells me I prefer the other. (Tough shit, Hoodi; it ain't your poem, nor your life!) Yeah, yeah...still. There was a phrase that just, resonated, and I don't see it here. This has become stainless steel, where once it was fine leather.
It's still brilliant, make no mistake about it. But...something happened to the poetic side of it. I'm gliding to the next stanza, praying like hell it hasn't undergone a similar metamorphasis.

Third stanza:

You did change it. This had something to do with family and the sea, but I can't recall it. Perhaps it was too out there to be clear, which is fine. This is still fine, though. I see nothing to change, but again...my intuition wants to call out..."What have you done to a masterful piece?" The line between conversation and action is blurred, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I don't really recall that blurred sense, though...I would have remembered telling you about it, and I didn't. It means I'm not reading it well enough now, or I didn't read it well enough then. I'm sorry that I can't tell you for sure which it is.

Fourth stanza:

It's fucking priceless. I remember laughing my ass off reading your retort about the floor, and I laughed my ass off again, even though I know it was born in an argument, thus painful. I can just hear it...and your images are well done, also. As for the poetic paring knife and immediacy: if you remove "and" as the first word in the second line, you can use either a comma or semicolon at the end of the first line, and you can start with a verb instead of a linking word. Just a thought. Here's another "just a thought". "who's" in the second line? Necessary, based on how immediate you made the first line?

Evening, mother wears an apron made of iron;
cooks like a woman angry at pans.

Ebb, flow. Not that the way you have it is wrong, but why not offer an alternative, is my way of looking at it. Your poems work hard, meaning: you put your words to good damned use, and they earn their keep. I just don't see the two words I mentioned above as earning enough keep, but then...I'm not the poet you are, so I may well be full of shit! Woot! :hug: (Since your punctuation is spotty here and there, don't sweat the semicolon and let the line break do the work.) lol

Fifth stanza:

See? Even here, you don't have an article for "ironing board", yet you had the superfluous "and" in the second line in the previous stanza. Consistency.
Don't add an article here, damnit! It's not needed. What's with your spotty puncuation? Not very typical of you. I love the images and the comparisons. Strong finish, to be sure.

Okay. Overall, my senses and memory, although they did not reproduce the version I read so long ago, tell me that something has been lost somewhere.
Maybe not everything which has been altered has been for the negative, but some damned strong parts have flown the coop. I can't tell if I'm more affected by what I know of the original, or by this poem as it is. It's a combination, I think.

Overall, I think this should take it, but then, I don't know the parameters of the contest, and sometimes they can be limiting, which sucks.

This used to be more poetic than it is now, in some subtle way.

Perhaps it's just me not wanting to believe that something you wrote could need such drastic revision, so "why change what worked"? It might just be that. I won't be so foolish as to deny the possibility.

I wish you best strength in your efforts...and you know...that has NEVER changed.
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2005
The original second stanza:


II.
in the morning we talk in colloquial suicide tone
about my future, which our voices capitalize over coffee and croissants.
I have a hard time knowing her
without her glasses
and her makeup in its technicolor glory.
she drives me to school every day
because parking passes cost twenty dollars and in today's economy
that sure can be lots,
trucks and equinoxes blow past us as I stare out the window,
drawing pictures in the condensation with my thumb.


The original third stanza:

III.
sunburned afternoons
she reminisces about the good old days while I'm writing my essay
on Langston Hughes. later we should go to the beach
since we never do anything together anymore.
she'll show me a picture of a furtive flute of a girl
in a poodleskirt and a yellow-spattered room.
we can walk up and down the beaches together
but it makes us uncomfortable to look at the profile
of blood kin beside the sea,
so we give up and squint against the brine.
of course, we don't have time this afternoon
but we will soon.


I very much appreciate the thorough critique. I'll edit it now. If it's less poetic, that's because I had to pare it down. Do you think I should cut a stanza?
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:iconhoodimann:
Hoodimann Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2005
I think that if you have to pare it down for the contest: fine. I also think some of the phrases cut out are amazing, but I also remember a certain poet (whose advice you'd quoted in a big block here, once), saying that sometimes you had to cut out pretty words, or pretty phrases, because they just didn't move the theme forward or add to it...and she was mostly correct, I think.

I would be wholly unable to say which stanza should go, because in each there are kernels of amazing things. Look at how much more clear the action is outlined between this and your new third stanza. The line between dialogue and action, as I've already said, is a bit fuzzy...and not in a cuddly way.

Your scalpel is needed, indeed. To fit the contest, do what's needed. I'd bring back at least some of these phrases for its long-term existence, though; but then...I'm a different poet. You really moved the daylights out of me with the original poem. I was staggered, utterly, by it. The current version: I'm still moved, but not so much staggered. For some reason, this part:

but it makes us uncomfortable to look at the profile
of blood kin beside the sea,

really has something to it, but I can't identify what it is. Don't put it back in if there isn't room, but don't lose it. I have to run, so I'm rushing this reply, which I detest. Mayhap I'll email you later.
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2005
The original version is the poem and that won't chage, and I really appreciate your commentary. Thank you.
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:iconjustb:
justb Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2005   Writer
great pic!
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2005
i have too much free time and a digital camera! a potent combination
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:iconjustb:
justb Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2005   Writer
what odd memories you have, of being a little girl... they're right as rain though.
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2005
I was an odd little girl.
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:iconjustb:
justb Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2005   Writer
awwwww. fuzzy.
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2005
no, that was my odd little adolescence.
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:iconstrangebutok:
strAngEbutOK Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005
WOW!

Enough said...


Really...


(ok, the structure is brilliant, the reference to church in the first stanza, the invisiable pancakes, the waxy yellow build up...my eyes just widened with everything i read. i am in total awe. there are so many hidden reasons and emotions behind each line but they are immediately erased with each new thought. i just felt myself wanting to pick the brain of each character, with all the hows, whys and whatevers. simply amazing work)
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005
Thank you so much! :heart:
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:iconstrangebutok:
strAngEbutOK Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005
You deserve it... :butterflytwo:
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:iconjack-cade:
jack-cade Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005
Love the way you skip in and out of the mother's language. I think two references to suicide is too much (you get away with the second because it's a good joke, but the first is superfluous...) but other than that, this is magique.
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005
Thank you! The first is trying to say "crippling despair" without saying "crippling despair," but I don't think suicide tone is cutting it, either.
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:iconvesiculae:
Vesiculae Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005
milk...

oh. sorry. the preview was one of those "fucked up" that could attract only me. today i'm carly simon, and nobody does it half as good as you, baby, you're the best. and i'm not using the shift key today, either.

this poem is awesome. it goes to your cave. and i swear i'm going to overuse that term whenever i get the chance. it works. the cave fucking works, and so does this, and so do you.
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005
Thank you, Todd!
I wrote this after my mother and I had a conversation about how Beethoven never saw the sea, and to me that seemed incredibly poignant and to her was just a bit of trivia.
As to the preview, sometimes I get in a mood. ;)
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:icondiamondie:
diamondie Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005  Professional Writer
There's something that bothers me with the fourth stanza, particularly its ending. I'm trying to find something else to complain about, but not succeeding, damn. Actually I'm not too fond of the second stanza either, but that's just the emo association I get from it. The last stanza is just brilliant. The structure works very well, too.
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:iconadahplatha:
adahplatha Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2005
The fourth and second stanzas are the old poem that I embellished on with the rest. I think they still might be weaker-adah, as far as tone goes.
Thank you so much! :heart:
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