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Zakzzz5 Profile
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The Man’s Children


The Man’s Children

my middle mother
having given me, the middle child,
the biggest gift, a love so great,
but I threw it away

my middle mother, not my first mother,
nor my last mother, finally leaves me
too but my father who fed me
cold rice, whom I lived
with in a drafty house remains

the other children, the first child
and the last unexpected child,
they were cared for in a house
with enough space

in a time of winter rains
the cat finds a home
with a warm bed
the mouse is sleeping,
and the children rise
again to look out of foggy windows.
Mar/11/2013, 7:06 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
vkp Profile
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Re: The Man’s Children


Zak,

Stopping by the board this morning, by way of a break from the tasks of life, I found this. To my delight.

The poem contains a whole world, or opens upon it, at least.


quote:

my middle mother
having given me, the middle child,
the biggest gift, a love so great,
but I threw it away


I love the term "middle mother" -- it says it all. So much that I don't even think you need the explication in the next strophe, or if you do, I'd leave it at "Not my first,/ not my last...." The idea of the child throwing love away speaks of unintended, innocent mistakes in judgement.

quote:

my middle mother, not my first mother,
nor my last mother, finally leaves me
too but my father who fed me
cold rice, whom I lived
with in a drafty house remains


"Finally leaves me too" -- so painful, as a child the N takes it so personally. Doesn't she leave the father, not the child? But to a child that is not how it feels. Ever. Grammatically, the clause "whom I lived with in a drafty house" refers to the rice, not the father. Aside from that, the father staying trumps the inadequacy of his care (cold rice, cold house) -- or does it?


quote:

the other children, the first child
and the last unexpected child,
they were cared for in a house
with enough space


Somehow the middle child, the N, gets the raw deal. He sees it as a competition, as children do. The thing I like about the poem is the way it unfolds, gradually revealing more and more, with spare, well chosen words, details.

quote:

quote:

in a time of winter rains
the cat finds a home
with a warm bed
the mouse is sleeping,
and the children rise
again to look out of foggy windows.



The cat and mouse metaphors may be a little forced (not sure yet) but the final image is evocative and poignant.
vkp
Mar/11/2013, 9:56 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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Re: The Man’s Children


No clue why the final sentence of my comment is in that odd sized font. Mystery.
Mar/11/2013, 9:56 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Bernie01 Profile
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Re: The Man’s Children


Z---

the opening lines here are not so hot:


the biggest gift, a love so great,
but I threw it away


sounds like daytime TV.

and why repeat that wonderful line about
the middle mother? it's very original, for me, fresh and provocative---but to repeat it so soon?


last verse, verges on cliche---cat and mouse.

this line seems stuck on:

in a time of winter rains

sounds like a nursery rhyme:

the cat finds a home
with a warm bed
the mouse is sleeping,




foggy windows, yipes. please rethink.


but the core:

my middle mother, not my first mother,
nor my last mother, finally leaves me
too but my father who fed me
cold rice, whom I lived
with in a drafty house remains

the other children, the first child
and the last unexpected child,
they were cared for in a house
with enough space



but golly, cold rice. not enough space.

not exactly enough for nancy grace to do a special on this narrator's deprived childhood.


where is some evidence of thoughtful evaluation? a plaintive Thomas Wolfe, you can't go home again. Yes. but the narrator seems to feel permanently short changed because he wasn't a member of the Trapp family:

quote:

MARIA:
Do Re Mi
The first three notes just happen to be
Do Re Mi

CHILDREN:
Do Re Mi

MARIA:
Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti
Let's see if I can make it easier
Do - a deer a female deer
Re - a drop of golden sun
Mi - a name I call myself
Fa - a long long way to run
Sol- a needle pulling thread
La - a note to follow so
Ti - a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to Do
Oh Oh Oh



sorry.

i liked the middle mother sequence, original and i think of it as very good.

the examples of abuse and neglect leave me as cold as the rice.

Third Place (IBPC)
The One
by Kendall Witherspoon

quote:

I was just sixteen that eight-track March
thaw when I lied to your face, jumped
a Michigan highway fence with my red-eyed
friend Tommy, the one with the golden
thumb, the one with Edgar Winter’s hair,
the one who taught me about casting seeds
upon the ground, the one without a mother
to lie to and a drunken father whose backyard
beagles bayed along runways while his only
son hitchhiked under the trails of jets.
In Ft. Lauderdale we slept under bridges
with the adept girl from Athens, Georgia.
The one with a woven palm crown,
the one in the fluorescent orange bikini,
the one who called William Calley a hero,
the one who stole the sweater you knitted me,
after she did that guitar-boy for a song.
Later you said you dreamed of me sleeping
under cars, or abducted at a Winn Dixie
adopted by homeless Vietnam vets.
I reminded you of your brother then.
The one who ran to that Louisiana town
without his third wife and his lucky red truck.
The one who drank coffee in his vodka.
The one who owned the laundromat
with the peeling sign on brick, shouting
whites and coloreds welcome here.
The one who played piano by ear, you said.
The one I met when he was dead of cancer.
The one I take after, everyone says.




The rhythm, the pace, the dense imagery kept me reading about this difficult and unresolved coming-of age. This is the one that made me love the repetition of “the one.”
--Deborah Bogen


bernie



Last edited by Bernie01, Mar/14/2013, 12:30 pm


---
Fall

Bob Grenier: the leaves / falling / out of the / water by the / table
Mar/14/2013, 4:54 am Link to this post Send Email to Bernie01   Send PM to Bernie01 Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: The Man’s Children


Hi Zak,

What I'm getting from the poem is pieces of a family saga, hints about what happened, with gaps in the narrative. Multiple mothers could mean divorce or death. Different sized homes indicate to me that the family fell on hard economic times. I'm not reading this as a poem about abuse or the intentional neglect of the middle child, but as a comment about the poverty and hardscrabble lifestyle the N endured during a part of his childhood. To me the father doesn't automatically come across as a bad guy; he is a survivor, if not literally, then at least in the N's memory. For me this is a memory piece more than anything else, filled with regret and a touch of nostalgia as well as with the quirky way memories are often recalled. The ending seems to be a deliberate harkening back to a children's story, perhaps one of the N's favorites when he was a kid.

If the poem isn't about economic hard times, then I would see it as being about emotional hard times. For example, maybe the first mother died, and the father struggled with his grief while trying to continue to raise his family. OTOH, maybe the father divorced the first wife or took a mistress, and so was emotionally unavailbe because of that. I also considered that perhaps there was only one mother, one woman who acted like different mothers as the result of illness, physical or emotional, or both.

Because the poem wasn't specific in all the details, I read pieces of my own story into it and free associated from there, which made for an open-ended, interesting read.
Mar/15/2013, 10:07 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The Man’s Children


Poem certainly open to interpretation. While present, narrative line plastic or pliable. The trope of the 3 mothers, conscious or not, hints of the archetype involving the triple aspects of the Goddess, which makes the poem interesting. But I wonder why, of the 3, the middle mother is the only one characterized, given a quality. I should like to have something, some perspective on the other two. Father well and firmly pointed to. Last strophe starts out strong but ends up the weakest of the 4. All in all I think the poem needs a bit more flesh on the frame. This said, noting a bunch of good lines and images.

Tere


quote:

Zakzzz5 wrote:

The Man’s Children

my middle mother
having given me, the middle child,
the biggest gift, a love so great,
but I threw it away

my middle mother, not my first mother,
nor my last mother, finally leaves me
too but my father who fed me
cold rice, whom I lived
with in a drafty house remains

the other children, the first child
and the last unexpected child,
they were cared for in a house
with enough space

in a time of winter rains
the cat finds a home
with a warm bed
the mouse is sleeping,
and the children rise
again to look out of foggy windows.



Mar/16/2013, 6:43 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: The Man’s Children


Vkp, Bernie, Katlin, Terreson -- I appreciate it that you took the time to read and comment. I'm taking it all in, both the good and the bad. Please know that I did read your comments and absorbed them as well as I could. Zak
Mar/25/2013, 3:01 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
queenfisher Profile
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Re: The Man’s Children


this poem goes round & round in my head almost like a chant & for some strange reason i see the russian metrushka dolls - that open up - one inside the other!

i'm a hopeless crit! disoriented after long travels!
Apr/10/2013, 2:08 am Link to this post Send Email to queenfisher   Send PM to queenfisher Blog
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: The Man’s Children


queenfisher,

I think there certainly that element can exist in certain poems and certain novels. Metrushka dolls, yes a plausible analogy. Hope you enjoyed your travels. Good that you're back. Zak

quote:

queenfisher wrote:

this poem goes round & round in my head almost like a chant & for some strange reason i see the russian metrushka dolls - that open up - one inside the other!

i'm a hopeless crit! disoriented after long travels!



Apr/14/2013, 6:09 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 


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