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Posted: 17 July 2003
Word Count: 225
Summary: Don't know what the motivation for this one was.

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The grey-chained city stands sullen as mud,
Torpid and tired, in worn winter rags.
The silver faced puddles watch baggy eyed skies,
And beer cans and paper in the stone gutter lie.

On the bench in a bus stop by an ad for champagne,
Lies a raincoat wrapped figure, his back to the world.
A pale shade of sadness lies tight round his heart
And he clasps a brown bottle in a broken nailed fist.

And this chill Tuesday evening, his lodgings he shares
With two clerks, a bus driver, barber and nurse.
No sounds from their waiting, they pretend they’re not there,
Their faces bent down to the cold, concrete path.

On Wednesday the scene is repeated once more,
With two clerks, a bus driver, barber and nurse.
And the raincoat wrapped figure still lies as before,
On the bench at the bus stop in the Bayswater Road.

On Thursday the team assembles again,
By the bench at the bus stop in the Bayswater Road.
And the nurse asks the barber what’s become of the man
Whose brown bottle lies smashed at the end of the bench.

And finally the God given Friday rolls round
For two clerks, a bus driver, barber and nurse.
In silence they stand and pretend they’re not there.
By the bench at the bus stop in the Bayswater Road.

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Comments by other Members

Ellenna at 08:59 on 18 July 2003  Report this post
Jon you have captured people diverse but all down on their luck thrown together yet each in their single misery... it has a sort of desolation and incomprehensibility about it.


LONGJON at 06:25 on 20 July 2003  Report this post

Many thanks for your comments. I'm not sure what drove that particular piece, except that last Thursday was a bleak, cold, wet, windy day. All the puddles lying in the carpark reflected the low, heavily clouded sky.

I guess it can't always be butterflies and sunsets can it?

Take care.

John P.

fevvers at 10:51 on 20 July 2003  Report this post
Hey John

I think a good discipline for you and this poem is if you tried to write is as an English sonnet. You will have fourteen lines in which to express what you are trying here and every single word would count. You have at the moment a lot of padding in this poem, mainly there for the rhythm and sometimes to get you to the rhyme ending - look at how many adjectives you have in the poem, do you need all of them? Much about this poem would lend itself very well to a sonnet.

I think the mixed rhyme scheme is working slightly against the poem by making it sound a little too whimsical (especially that couplet in the first stanza which then sets up and echo of couplets throughout the poem, and also with the lines in anapestic tetrametre - except in the first veres which I think is the more interesting verse), but I think one good couplet at the end of the poem would work wonders, and would allow the speaker (and writer) an opportunity to comment on the scene. I do have a real worry that the homeless person is being used as a device for the poem, the reader gets little of the actual sense of him as a human being - this is very common when people write this subject matter because it's difficult to do.

I have one final comment and that is inversions. You use a lot of them in your poetry and I think again it has to do with getting to the right rhyme or filling the rhythm. In the first verse you have "And beer cans and paper in the stone gutter lie" but in the second you have "A pale shade of sadness lies tight round his heart". The inversion in the first verse is there to keep to the rhyme, I can't see any other reason. This is a poem written and is set in a contemporary language and scene, there really is no need for inversions. "A pale shade of sadness lies tight round his heart" is a more satisfying line that the previous one.

I think it's an ambitious poem to write because of the subject matter, also I think it's interesting that you're not sure what the motivation for the poem was - I think this might be telling you that it's not yet there. I would go back to try and see how you felt when you first started to write the poem and then I would flow-write around that impetus and see what comes out.

There's something about the puddles and the sky that really, really interests me (and from your comment above, I suspect it interests you too). It's something like when Oscar Wilde said 'we're lying in the gutters, but looking at the stars' - that kind of a feeling about it. Hmmmmm...I like that.

Anyhow, I hope this has not sounded too brutal.

Take care

LONGJON at 21:45 on 20 July 2003  Report this post
G'day Jacqueline,

First and foremost thankyou for taking the time to write such a detailed reply.

I completely agree, this poem is not there yet, in fact I think it is probably no further than stage 1. At the very least I think there are two poems in this, the first verse is too much of an introduction to the rest and needs to be dealt with seperately.

The couplet idea is interesting, could also be used as an intro if the same basic form was preserved? By the way, it was never intended that the verses rhyme, I was trying to add to the grittiness, the unpalatability of the subject matter.

The sonnet form,however,and the need for concentration of thinking and economy of language is a challenge. I shall have a go at that. I also think I now understand better your feeling on inversions. Oh, you have mentioned previously the term "flow write" - not a term I've heard before, does it mean simply writing, a sort of "stream of consciousness" process from which you later extract the best bits?

Yes, you're right about the puddles,I hope it doesn't sound corny but it seemed to me that the puddles were like enormous, childlike eyes trying to see beyond and all that they could see were dirty, grey, lowering clouds.

Take care, my thanks again.

John P.

fevvers at 11:57 on 21 July 2003  Report this post
Hey John

No it doesn't sound corny, and seems to me the psychological impulse for you for this poem. Why don't you go with that rather than the homeless person idea, explore what it means before trying to make it a ' worthy' poem?

You've hit the nailon the head by flow writing - often it takes you to places you've never been, or evene are afraid to go, but it helps if you're not sure what the poem is doing. It clears your head a bit.

Glad to hear you'll have a go at a sonnet, but remember to listen to the poem as it's written - that's where you'll get the rhythm. Also go and read sonnets - especially Shakespeare.


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