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deepwaters Profile
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The Truth about a Father's Death (original added)


The Truth about a Father's Death

My sister, the smoker
who ended up with his ashtray,
called me with the news when
it was just light enough
to know it's dark still.

The truth of his death
is not that it is final, nor
that it leaves me
behind. His death
robbed me of mine,
left Mom to shine
my teapots every afternoon.
The night my father died
I woke up beautiful and strong.

-------
ORIGINAL:

The truth about death is
not that it is final, nor
that it leaves me behind.

The truth about death is
that it has been calling me
for years.
From that open space
between my ribs
I hear her soft whispers, and I see
her curling her fingers behind my eyes
luring me in.

The truth about death is
that when it traveled
through the wire
into my ear, after having visited his body,
I became a woman. His death
robbed me of mine,
left Mom to shine
my teapots every afternoon. The truth
is that the night he died
I woke up beautiful and strong.

Last edited by deepwaters, Nov/23/2008, 4:21 pm
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carolinex Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death


Hi Shab,

I feel this poem could be longer. I don't get from the poem the reason behind the transformation. I like the way the poem starts and I feel there is a hidden story here to tell still.

Ine

Last edited by carolinex, Nov/15/2008, 5:24 pm
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Terreson Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death


Shabfriend I am pretty sure I remember you touching on this theme before. I am pretty sure I remember the last line especially. Yes/No?

I too feel the poem should be bodied out more. My sense is that this is the poem's kernel, that it wants to spread out a little. Maybe more sister, more mother, more father.

What does come through cleanly is the truth about death that drives the poem.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Nov/16/2008, 1:31 pm
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deepwaters Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death


Caroline-
Thank you for taking the time to comment, and for letting me know that the reason for the transformation is not just as clear to everyone as it is to me.

-----------------------------------------------
Terefriend-
Your memory is functioning well. Here is the interesting bit, I had written a longer - very different - piece about losing parents, which included the last line. You told me to write about things I know about, and this was when I had not lost a parent. and now, that last line is the only thing that has survived.

Thanks for the feedback. I will dig some and see what else is there. Thanks again.
-shab
Nov/17/2008, 9:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death


Hi—

A year and a half ago I lost my own father, and seven months later, my mother. So, take everything I say here with the understanding of empathy, please. In no way do I mean any insult or injury.

And I have to say that this poem, AS A POEM, and saying nothing about the feelings and memories behind it, doesn't work for me. The reason it doesn't work for me is because it's opaque, and doesn't pull me in. It's TOO distant from the emotions. You give us what happens, but not why, not who, and not how.

I am usually a big supporter of compression and concision in poetry. This is one instance, however, in which I think there is too much concision, to the point of removing any possibility for generating empathy in the reader. What we get is symbols and phrases that mean something to the poet, but the meaning of which we are not given. It's as though we're being excluded from the poem. I can't comprehend anything going on. There IS definitely something going on—one can sense it, lurking underneath—but we aren't given any clues to what it is.

Usually I find personal poems to be overwritten and require pruning down. In this poem, however, the problem is underwriting, which needs fleshing out. Make sense? We need more than clues and semaphores, we need something indisputably real.

Is it that this topic is still too painful to write about? The poem seems so distanced from the emotions and events, that it comes across as, well, distanced. Withdrawn, almost. Definitely disconnected, maybe even dissociative.

This is just something to think about, and is only a comment on the poem itself. This is obviously fertile material to mine, for you—something I understand only too well—and perhaps you need to keep returning to these thoughts and feelings, and start over with a new, rather than over-revising this poem.

Hope that makes sense.

---
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Nov/17/2008, 11:37 pm Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death


Hi Shab,

I noticed on another board that you posted the original, longer version of this poem. Might be interesting if you posted that version here for feedback.

My impression of this version is similar to what others have already stated: the poem happens too quickly, without enough information being provided to the reader to fully understand the transition that has taken place within the N. These lines peak my interest, but I do not know what to make of them in the context of the poem:

". . . His death
robbed me of mine,"

My guess is that they are connected to the last two lines:

"The night my father died
I woke up beautiful and strong."

As a reader, I'd like to know more about what transpired, especially because something powerful obviously did.
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deepwaters Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death


Dragon -

your comments do make sense. thank you for taking the time to write them with clarity and in detail. it is greatly appreciated.
Nov/23/2008, 4:20 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death


Katlin -

I added the original. I think in the original, the lines that peak your interest:
". . . His death
robbed me of mine,"

might make better sense. I will be working on this piece, I think it is worth my time. Thanks for commenting.
-s
Nov/23/2008, 4:23 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
ChrisD1 Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death


hi shab,

For me, these lines are the most intriguing, provocative:

"...His death
robbed me of mine,
left Mom to shine
my teapots every afternoon..."

my suggestion would be to sit with the impulse that was the source of these lines and see what comes up...at any rate, as a reader, I want more of what that hints at.

Best,

Chris
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SallyMaria Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death (original added)


I was lucky enough to come by when both poems were up.

And they really are two different poems, one about loss - the original about how death is a focal element for the N.

I think the way you come into the loss poem is perfect. Love the detail about who got the ashtray. Perhaps you were trying to get away from the repetitive first sentence in the original?

The original is too distanced. You bring it closer with the rewrite, but I agree that it needs to be given more. Perhaps another stanza. But it's good writing, you have a good core.

Enjoyed reading

sallymaria

Nov/25/2008, 10:15 am Link to this post Send Email to SallyMaria   Send PM to SallyMaria Blog
 
carolinex Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death (original added)


Hi Shab,

I don't really have much advice here but I think what I am liking about the second is the detail, that it is less abstract. I might like more detail like that. But you might find there are a bits from the first version you want to keep.

I think this part might help in understanding

It has been calling me
for years.
From that open space
between my ribs
I hear her soft whispers, and I see
her curling her fingers behind my eyes

This helps me understand better:

His death
robbed me of mine,

My impression now, perhaps the narrator has wished for death many times, but when it actually comes so close, it becomes real and not so welcome. In your revise, I wouldn't have gotten that.

I don't understand the shining the teapots line...

Hope anything I've said is helpful. I've had difficult poems like this to grapple with before.

Ine
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deepwaters Profile
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Re: The Truth about a Father's Death (original added)


Chris-
Thank you for commenting. I think you are right. That's the heart of the poem for me.

--------------------------
Sallymaria-
Thank you for reading and for your kind words.

--------------------------
Caroline-
Thank you for visiting this. You are right in that the 'he robbed me of mine' is related to '[death] has been calling me for years.' I will have to find a way to show this if I want to keep this piece. Thanks again.
Jan/26/2009, 12:23 am Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 


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