Memorial Day in Cranston Ct.
#1
Memorial Day in Cranston Ct.
 
The trailers are not parked in rows so much
as they are left like cars used in a heist,
abandoned in dysfunction. The dirt
is hard-packed in the heat, not rich enough
to be brown - it’s gray, or sometimes the faded
dun of dust or a sickly olive where mold grew
when water collected in ruts from the last rain.
Patches of weeds struggle through the breaks
of dusty gravel and tire marks.
 
They run a sprinkler for the heat
at the far end, just before the break in the trees
where teenagers sneak off to smoke pot
or break beer bottles in a fire pit, but the Nelsons' sewer
stopped working 2 years ago
so the earth never really dries;
the stink of urine vapors up
from soft warm clay.

It is the time of year men take their shirts off
and show stretched tattoos, barely
discernible on ruddy, tired flesh.
They come to me, not on days like today -
when I am sitting outside drinking beer
and drawing fiddleheads 
 in the dirt and cigarette butts 
with my boot tip, or throwing another empty
at the twisted, bent skirting of my trailer,
but they do come.
 
I lead them inside to where lop-sided furniture,
old Styrofoam food containers and disconnected
piles of belongings crowd us to the center
of the room. There is a mustard yellow sofa
with two good cushions and a chair
and one good lamp. A homemade tattoo gun,
tubs of ink, cotton balls
and a half bottle of rubbing alcohol
litter a bar table to the side.
 
Some trade their brother's pilfered weed
for tribal signs or barbed wire or a sword
and a cross. There is a woman that I call Marie
she stops sometimes and offers to suck me off.
I shrug. If I let her, she will clean or bring food.
I can make out the face of the dead
son I drew along her left breast,
small but sagging forever in a grimace of pain.
Sometimes people pay, I don’t know what to charge
or what I do with money,
I never leave.
 
Leo brought his sister with him last week.
She’s not even twelve but her breasts press tight
against her tank top and she blushes the color of mangos
as he tells me it’s time she got some ink.
She takes off her shirt and lies face down on the couch.
 
She wants an avenging angel on her shoulder blade
but as I dip my head and breathe her hair,
the smell of fresh-peeled oranges,
and start to sketch into her flesh,
the only times my hands don't shake,
I trace the outline 
of a butterfly.
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#2
Wow. I love the travel of this, from the drab and ugly disaster-zone trailer park, sordid, stinking, into a dilapidated trailer, into the inner life of an ink man, unremitting squalor - then the angel appears - as a butterfly.

Great imagery - 'the color of mangoes' carries lush, smooth, plump, with a blush of ripeness. Oh, and sweet and juicy, of course.

A few spots could maybe be tuned up - the opening 2 lines could actively grab the reader, yours feel negative-passive. That passive use of the verb 'to be' pops up a few times.

Others could be trimmed - 'There is a woman that I call Marie / she stops sometimes ...' could be 'Marie stops sometimes, ...' because it becomes obvious she's a woman, in a milieu where people change their names.

That final contrast, of avenging angel and butterfly, is perfect. Also the contrast of the colours - mango, oranges, butterfly vs gray, dun, sickly olive (in itself a contrast to the juicy fruits). The smell of urine vs the smell of freshly shampooed hair. There's a lot packed in here - I'll be back.
Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it.

~ Rumi
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#3
What fun to read. Big Grin I think the time spent describing the parking field is well worth it, it builds layers and comes out with a strong image. L2 is a little awkward. Something like as they are like cars left after a heist would read a little smoother to me.  S2 is perfect to me. I found the dashes around "in the dirt and cigarette butts" confusing and unnecessary, it reads fine without them. I think "belongings" might not be right, too formal. Love the Marie lines as is. Same for the rest, where everything comes alive and sensual in such an off way. I like the title stressing that everyday is the same, at least from the outside.

So, a few nits. Thanks for posting it, strong and interesting.

Edit: L2 seems fine to me now, I rescind my nit. Smile

(05-29-2017, 09:39 AM)milo Wrote:  Memorial Day in Cranston Ct.
 
The trailers are not parked in rows so much
as they are left like cars used in a heist,
abandoned in dysfunction. The dirt
is hard-packed in the heat, not rich enough
to be brown - it’s gray, or sometimes the faded
dun of dust or a sickly olive where mold grew
when water collected in ruts from the last rain.
Patches of weeds struggle through the breaks
of dusty gravel and tire marks.
 
They run a sprinkler for the heat
at the far end, just before the break in the trees
where teenagers sneak off to smoke pot
or break beer bottles in a fire pit, but the Nelsons' sewer
stopped working 2 years ago
so the earth never really dries;
the stink of urine vapors up
from soft warm clay.

It is the time of year men take their shirts off
and show stretched tattoos, barely
discernible on ruddy, tired flesh.
They come to me, not on days like today -
when I am sitting outside drinking beer
and drawing fiddleheads - 
 in the dirt and cigarette butts -
with my boot tip, or throwing another empty
at the twisted, bent skirting of my trailer,
but they do come.
 
I lead them inside to where lop-sided furniture,
old Styrofoam food containers and disconnected
piles of belongings crowd us to the center
of the room. There is a mustard yellow sofa
with two good cushions and a chair
and one good lamp. A homemade tattoo gun,
tubs of ink, cotton balls
and a half bottle of rubbing alcohol
litter a bar table to the side.
 
Some trade their brother's pilfered weed
for tribal signs or barbed wire or a sword
and a cross.
 
There is a woman that I call Marie,
she stops sometimes and offers to suck me off.
I shrug. If I let her, she will clean or bring food.
I can make out the face of the dead
son I drew along her left breast,
small but sagging forever in a grimace of pain.
Sometimes people pay, I don’t know what to charge
or what I do with money,
I never leave.
 
Leo brought his sister with him last week.
She’s not even twelve but her breasts press tight
against her tank top and she blushes the color of mangos
as he tells me it’s time she got some ink.
She takes off her shirt and lies face down on the couch.
 
She wants an avenging angel on her shoulder blade
but as I dip my head and breathe her hair,
the smell of fresh-peeled oranges,
and start to sketch into her flesh,
the only times my hands don't shake,
I trace the outline of
a butterfly.
billy wrote:welcome to the site. make it your own, wear it like a well loved slipper and wear it out.
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#4
(05-29-2017, 06:27 PM)just mercedes Wrote:  Wow. I love the travel of this, from the drab and ugly disaster-zone trailer park, sordid, stinking, into a dilapidated trailer, into the inner life of an ink man, unremitting squalor - then the angel appears - as a butterfly.

Great imagery - 'the color of mangoes' carries lush, smooth, plump, with a blush of ripeness. Oh, and sweet and juicy, of course.

A few spots could maybe be tuned up - the opening 2 lines could actively grab the reader, yours feel negative-passive. That passive use of the verb 'to be' pops up a few times.

Others could be trimmed - 'There is a woman that I call Marie / she stops sometimes ...' could be 'Marie stops sometimes, ...' because it becomes obvious she's a woman, in a milieu where people change their names.

That final contrast, of avenging angel and butterfly, is perfect. Also the contrast of the colours - mango, oranges, butterfly vs gray, dun, sickly olive (in itself a contrast to the juicy fruits). The smell of urine vs the smell of freshly shampooed hair. There's a lot packed in here - I'll be back.

Thanks, JM.

Yes, it still needs some trimming, and some consideration of passive/active voicing.

I am considering the marie designation.  There is a certain feel of disassociation as opposed to familiarity/intimacy I was shooting for.

(05-29-2017, 07:51 PM)ellajam Wrote:  What fun to read. Big Grin I think the time spent describing the parking field is well worth it, it builds layers and comes out with a strong image. L2 is a little awkward. Something like as they are like cars left after a heist would read a little smoother to me.  S2 is perfect to me. I found the dashes around "in the dirt and cigarette butts" confusing and unnecessary, it reads fine without them. I think "belongings" might not be right, too formal. Love the Marie lines as is. Same for the rest, where everything comes alive and sensual in such an off way. I like the title stressing that everyday is the same, at least from the outside.

So, a few nits. Thanks for posting it, strong and interesting.

Edit: L2 seems fine to me now, I rescind my nit. Smile

.

Thanks for reading and commenting, ella

The reason for the awkwardness in L2 (and occasional other spots) is that there are interjections of blank verse in this free verse poem. Probably inadvisably so as I am no Eliot or Pound.

I have done an insta-edit to correct the dashes as well as the one weird strophe break.  Probably need to reconsider some of my line breaks thouh, wouldn't you agree?
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#5
S1 L4 you might consider rich. S2 L5/6 might be stronger combined. S3 you might comma after beer and bring drawing up, then fiddleheads in the dirt and cigarette butts. While I enjoyed the image and pausing and thinking about fiddleheads I didn't come up with a reason for the poem to stress it, I may be missing something.

S4 L1 I'm not thrilled with lop-sided furniture, I like the image but furniture is so nonspecific in a poem that pays such attention to detail. S6 L1 you might consider starting with "Last week" to open an opportunity for a better break. L5 might be stronger if you cut "on the couch", leaving "down" for the break.

That last break on "of" would typically be weak but as I like the butterfly on its own line I wouldn't suggest changing it.

Well, you asked, Smile, hope something in there helps.
billy wrote:welcome to the site. make it your own, wear it like a well loved slipper and wear it out.
ella pleads:please click forum titles for posting guidelines, important threads.
New poet? Try Poetic DevicesandWard's Tips


Reply
#6
(05-30-2017, 08:40 AM)ellajam Wrote:  S1 L4 you might consider rich.

I might but, "not rich enough to be brown" is a euphemism for white trash

Quote: S2 L5/6 might be stronger combined. S3 you might comma after beer and bring drawing up, then fiddleheads in the dirt and cigarette butts. While I enjoyed the image and pausing and thinking about fiddleheads I didn't come up with a reason for the poem to stress it, I may be missing something.

good editing suggestions that I will most likely incorporate.

While "drawing fiddleheads in the dirt" may not be an obvious reference to entropy or an eternal malaise, unless it harms the poem I will probably leave it.

Quote:S4 L1 I'm not thrilled with lop-sided furniture, I like the image but furniture is so nonspecific in a poem that pays such attention to detail. S6 L1 you might consider starting with "Last week" to open an opportunity for a better break. L5 might be stronger if you cut "on the couch", leaving "down" for the break.

That last break on "of" would typically be weak but as I like the butterfly on its own line I wouldn't suggest changing it.

Well, you asked, Smile, hope something in there helps.

good suggestions.  I am actually switching the break.  The reason you cite is the reason I chose it but "of" is inconsequential enough I don't think any of the weight is lost.  This change I am making  immediately.

Once again, thanks.
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