Inheritance - Edit
#1
Inheritance


When he was five, young Gerald’s father spanked
him angrily for playing near the edge,
tormenting animals, and most of all
for toying with himself.  Young Gerald learned
what things were right and wrong, and soon forgot
those loving pains and terrors that had taught
him which was which.  At thirty-three his shrink
recovered memories that showed his angst was caused
by rage and anger, violent abuse
his father had inflicted on a son
he hated.  Gerald took it all to heart
and never punished his son Ted except
with smiling time-outs.  No-one could explain
why Ted turned out sadistic and depraved,
thrill-seeking and amoral - unafraid
of playing near the edge.  Old Gerald thought
this vicious streak must be inherited:
Ted’s grandfather, he told himself, was mad.



When he was five young Gerald’s father spanked
him angrily for playing near the edge,
tormenting animals, and most of all
for toying with himself.  Young Gerald learned
what things were right and wrong, and soon forgot
those loving pains and terrors that had taught
him which was which.  At thirty-three his shrink
informed him that his fear of heights was caused
by rage and anger, violent abuse
his father had inflicted on a son
he hated.  Gerald took it all to heart
and never punished his son Ted except
with smiling time-outs.  No-one could explain
why Ted turned out sadistic and depraved,
thrill-seeking and amoral - unafraid
of playing near the edge.  Old Gerald thought
it had to be inherited somehow -
Ted’s grandfather, as he recalled, was bad.

A little blank verse - have to get a bit of strikebreaking in before the "Poets' Strike" is over!
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#2
(01-16-2017, 01:23 PM)dukealien Wrote:  Inheritance


When he was five young Gerald’s father spanked "Five young" read a little off to me and makes the situation of being spanked sound more obscure/foreign than it is, I think. If I were you I might just say five year's old.
him angrily for playing near the edge, I love this just because we don't know what the edge exactly is. Could be the edge of the pool, edge of the sidewalk, or the edge of the world. I dig.
tormenting animals, and most of all
for toying with himself.  Young Gerald learned Personally not a fan of "young gerald" but only for stylistic reasons. There's no pressing offense here.
what things were right and wrong, and soon forgot
those loving pains and terrors that had taught
him which was which.  At thirty-three his shrink
informed him that his fear of heights was caused Fear of heights? If Gerald is some kind of Jesus, being 33 and all, I guess that edge he played near was the edge of a cloud.
by rage and anger, violent abuse
his father had inflicted on a son
he hated.  Gerald took it all to heart
and never punished his son Ted except
with smiling time-outs.  No-one could explain
why Ted turned out sadistic and depraved, If we run with the whole Jesus idea (which i think is what you were after with 33), then I guess we're Ted. Makes sense.
thrill-seeking and amoral - unafraid
of playing near the edge.  Old Gerald thought
it had to be inherited somehow -
Ted’s grandfather, as he recalled, was bad.

dukealien,

I really like that your poem has something to say about god. Correct me if I'm wrong/if that's not what its about. The 33 is what sold it to me. Not to mention the title of your poem. I like the idea of inheritance in a religious context, and that inheritance not coming from Adam and Eve but instead from the big guy who's image we were (perhaps) made in. And I like that that likeness is not necessarily on the face of things and in the faces of us.

Good little nugget here. Thanks for the read.
Evan
"There ought to be a room in this house to swear in."
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#3
(01-17-2017, 08:15 AM)Cousin Kil Wrote:  dukealien,

I really like that your poem has something to say about god. Correct me if I'm wrong/if that's not what its about. The 33 is what sold it to me. Not to mention the title of your poem. I like the idea of inheritance in a religious context, and that inheritance not coming from Adam and Eve but instead from the big guy who's image we were (perhaps) made in. And I like that that likeness is not necessarily on the face of things and in the faces of us.

Good little nugget here. Thanks for the read.
Evan

Thanks for that valuable critique, and the read.  Won't say you're wrong since a poet doesn't get to say how readers will interpret a poem once it's out of the barn, but that is not exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it.  (see spoiler if desired)  The critiques of infelicities in the wording are valuable, but that's not to say being forced to see the whole thing in a different light is not!

A lot of my poetry is symbolic - I am, or was, a programmer after all - but in this particular case all I had in mind was a narrative implicitly criticizing both "recovered memory" hooha and Spockian permissive child-raising.  That's all - no symbols or significance in names or numbers (33 seemed a plausible age to start seeing shrinks and having at least one kid out of the oven).  "Ted" might be a vague reference to 1950s "Teddy Boys," that's about it.  So not wrong, except at reading my mind (g).
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#4
(01-16-2017, 01:23 PM)dukealien Wrote:  Inheritance


When he was five young Gerald’s father spanked
him angrily for playing near the edge,
tormenting animals, and most of all
for toying with himself.  Young Gerald learned
what things were right and wrong, and soon forgot
those loving pains and terrors that had taught
him which was which.  At thirty-three his shrink
informed him that his fear of heights was caused
by rage and anger, violent abuse
his father had inflicted on a son
he hated.  Gerald took it all to heart
and never punished his son Ted except
with smiling time-outs.  No-one could explain
why Ted turned out sadistic and depraved,
thrill-seeking and amoral - unafraid
of playing near the edge.  Old Gerald thought
it had to be inherited somehow -
Ted’s grandfather, as he recalled, was bad.

A little blank verse - have to get a bit of strikebreaking in before the "Poets' Strike" is over!

I get the feeling that I'm reading a snippet from a diary entry or directly from your subconcious. It's interesting and sort of new to me, so it's hard for me to critique. It has no real rhythm, which I like because it adds to the stream of conciousness feel. I really appreciated the end, because it's so light it almost makes me want to laugh to rid myself of the nervous tension from the previous lines. I also really enjoy how you keep me interested in this character Ted, even though the poem is more about his father. For some reason, I think of Ted Bundy when I read this poem.
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#5
You did a fantastic job ending each line on a meaningful word. The title is powerful as well.
I agree that although "five young" connects to "Young Gerald," it is a bit cumbersome.
I would suggest that "by rage and anger, violent abuse" read as "by rage, anger, and violent abuse." In my opinion that reads more fluidly.
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#6
(01-16-2017, 01:23 PM)dukealien Wrote:  Inheritance

Your command of meter shines here. I noticed the prosody only to the extent that each line read with the same length of time -- but the whole rhythm felt natural, conversational, which I think is the proper function of IP. "Ted" made me think of Ted Hughes, what with me currently immersed in Plath, and, in relation to that, the popular response (but not mine) seeming to be to demonize him; while "Gerald" reminded me of Geralt of Rivia, ie The Witcher series, a Polish sword-and-sorcery series of stories whose book forms (the originals) I don't care enough to read, and whose video game forms I really want to play.

When he was five young Gerald’s father spanked
him angrily for playing near the edge, "angrily" doesn't feel like the right rhythm-filler, here. I feel like the poem should put a bit more emphasis on the tension between what some would call a history of violence and what others would call a simple lack of discipline, such that the identity of Gerald's father should be a mystery -- ie, that Gerald doesn't necessarily know if his father was ever more than neutral, and the element abuse appears only when Gerald either recalls or invents all those little details with his shrink. Well, that, and the fact that "angrily" just doesn't sound right.
tormenting animals, and most of all
for toying with himself.  Young Gerald learned The alliteration between "tormenting" and "toying" is nice, but it puts an undue emphasis, I think, on the words themselves, rather than their uses -- that is, with the alliteration, "tormenting" just seems like a tangent from "playing" and "toying", and I don't think it's a particularly common experience for children to torment animals. Perhaps a less alliterative euphemism, to match up with this line's innuendo.
what things were right and wrong, and soon forgot
those loving pains and terrors that had taught Concerning said tension between abuse and discipline, "loving pains and terrors" also feels rather inappropriate, in that I would prefer something less livid than "terrors" -- and yet, on second thought, the contrast between "loving pains" and "terrors" is appropriate, especially since the next four lines are where the tension is developed with the relatively vivid show of violence, so I suppose this is sort of a non-issue.
him which was which.  At thirty-three his shrink
informed him that his fear of heights was caused I would like this better if "fear of heights" was replaced by a more alien problem, or perhaps a more Freudian -- "playing near the edge" loses its power for me when made this literal.
by rage and anger, violent abuse
his father had inflicted on a son
he hated.  Gerald took it all to heart
and never punished his son Ted except "punished his son Ted except" sort of jams in the tongue, for me, although I guess that lack of smoothness fits the build up to the piece's (delightfully) janky resolution.
with smiling time-outs.  No-one could explain
why Ted turned out sadistic and depraved,
thrill-seeking and amoral - unafraid So yeah, the sensationalized Ted Hughes, or the amoral spirit (so I've heard) of much of The Witcher series -- however, not sensational enough, I think. At this point I would expect a more specific return to the euphemisms of the first few lines, especially with "by rage and anger, violent abuse / his father had inflicted on a son / he hated." is about as abstract as this line, only with those lines being more effective, since they're the first real shot, both in the poem's native form and according to the edits I'm suggesting, of violence (*----and also, making those lines about Gerald's father's violence vague compared to this enhance the unreliability of recollection, which as you earlier noted and as I later will consider is a part of your intention with this piece; I think the poem's setting is implied to contain a still living Gerald watching over his son, such that what he sees in Ted is more current observation than the accessing of memory). Perhaps a return to the image of "tormenting animals", but this time with a more specific sort of torment, and a more specific sort of animal -- and with the language being equally euphemistic, such that the torment could be interpreted as something immoral only according to Gerald's outdated values.
of playing near the edge.  Old Gerald thought
it had to be inherited somehow -
Ted’s grandfather, as he recalled, was bad. Ending the verse on "somehow", a weak word, and "bad", a bland word, really enforces that jankiness, which as I have noted is delightful -- it keeps in the reader's mind how the tension is unresolved. Of course, I could be wrong, and your emphasis here may be less about that tension, and more something autobiographical, although reading your spoiler'd explanation of yourself, I guess I'm about right. To summarize, if you're gonna criticize in this piece both the nature of "recovered memory" and "Spockian permissive child-rearing", I think, for the first six lines, you really have to contain any traces of abuse, make it so that, when Gerald's childhood is described, the father is a nonentity, so that the spanking filtered only by the reader's perception of what discipline is, and Gerald's sins are never particularly good nor bad; and for the last six lines, make Ted's violence both more vivid, to make that section less weak compared to the equally vague yet far more effective introduction of violence in the middle, and more a mere consequence of modernity, so that it emphasizes Gerald's being "old", ie Gerald's recollection being unreliable, or Gerald further returning to the image of his father. Otherwise, lovely work.
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#7
Edit 1;

Inheritance


When he was five, young Gerald’s father spanked
him angrily for playing near the edge,
tormenting animals, and most of all
for toying with himself.  Young Gerald learned
what things were right and wrong, and soon forgot
those loving pains and terrors that had taught
him which was which.  At thirty-three his shrink
recovered memories that showed his angst was caused
by rage and anger, violent abuse
his father had inflicted on a son
he hated.  Gerald took it all to heart
and never punished his son Ted except
with smiling time-outs.  No-one could explain
why Ted turned out sadistic and depraved,
thrill-seeking and amoral - unafraid
of playing near the edge.  Old Gerald thought
this vicious streak must be inherited:
Ted’s grandfather, he told himself, was mad.



Sincere thanks to all the critics without exception.  Oddly, considering my low commitment to this one, had to beat down my defensive reactions to the criticism.

@Carrie Birdsong - "no real rhythm," with @River Notch's on the successfully unobtrusive meter, counts as a compliment.  Thanks!

@BecktheDog - tried to modulate the first line with a comma; hope that helps.

@River Notch - have addressed your critiques, particularly "fear of heights" and "somehow" which were, indeed, weak.  Likewise some other elements.

On two points, "angrily" and "loving pains and terrors," it seems to me your critique is saying  I should express them differently because I couldn't have meant what they say now.  But I *do* mean that, specifically (though it could no doubt be expressed better):  a parent can respond angrily to a child's actions without being a monster, and a child afraid - even irrationally afraid - of that anger (not, really, the associated pain)  is not necessarily ruined by it for life.  I know this from my own, not recovered, just memories.  The parent doesn't lose self-control but exercises it to stop before seizing a tool (belt, stick, etc.) and the child acquires a moral sense without remembering every incident in which it was formed (for later deconstruction).

So, I may be wrong, but that really was what I was trying to say - and that the meaning there was taken, though disapproved, indicates that those expressions work to that extent.  Sure, there are bad parents - but displaying controlled anger not only teaches the lesson of what is not to be done, but the further lesson of self-control under stress.   Not going apeshit is a lesson, too.

Tormenting (and vivisecting) animals is a marker for future psychopaths.  Did Gerald's dad save him?
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#8
(01-16-2017, 01:23 PM)dukealien Wrote:  Inheritance

When he was five, young Gerald’s father spanked -- Do you need "young"? Doesn't the previous clause explain the youth? Also not sure about this enjambment. Seems like spank is the surprise word, not him. Would spank be better on the next line?
him angrily for playing near the edge, - near the edge of what?
tormenting animals, and most of all -- Would you put a comma after all? Not sure how grammatical you want to be. 
for toying with himself.  Young Gerald learned -- The enjambment in this line to "toying with himself" is better. It's both surprising and cruel.
what things were right and wrong, and soon forgot -- What things were right and wrong seems a bit wordy. Morality, right from wrong, righteousness or what's wrong. Many ways to reduce word count. If padded, probably more meaningful things can be added. Not sure if implied subject warrants FANBOYS comma.
those loving pains and terrors that had taught
him which was which.  At thirty-three his shrink -- My initial reaction is to cringe from "which was which" because it seems like compounding sloppy references (what's which referring to) with sloppy redundancy (two which). That being said, there seems to be some good psychological stuff/pause to think about words going on. 
recovered memories that showed his angst was caused
by rage and anger, violent abuse -- Rage and anger seems redundant. 
his father had inflicted on a son
he hated.  Gerald took it all to heart -- All seems unnecessary here. 
and never punished his son Ted except
with smiling time-outs.  No-one could explain -- As far as I know, the dash is normally for adjectives. No one is a noun here. 
why Ted turned out sadistic and depraved,
thrill-seeking and amoral - unafraid
of playing near the edge.  Old Gerald thought
this vicious streak must be inherited: -- was instead of must be? still stuck with to be verbs though.
Ted’s grandfather, he told himself, was mad. -- Good ending, but does thought mean told himself in only one word?



When he was five young Gerald’s father spanked
him angrily for playing near the edge,
tormenting animals, and most of all
for toying with himself.  Young Gerald learned
what things were right and wrong, and soon forgot
those loving pains and terrors that had taught
him which was which.  At thirty-three his shrink
informed him that his fear of heights was caused
by rage and anger, violent abuse
his father had inflicted on a son
he hated.  Gerald took it all to heart
and never punished his son Ted except
with smiling time-outs.  No-one could explain
why Ted turned out sadistic and depraved,
thrill-seeking and amoral - unafraid
of playing near the edge.  Old Gerald thought
it had to be inherited somehow -
Ted’s grandfather, as he recalled, was bad.

A little blank verse - have to get a bit of strikebreaking in before the "Poets' Strike" is over!

Content seems pretty cool, which is the hardest part IMO. Critique is mainly about style, with padding and stuff. Good luck with it.
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