Shame
#1
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Shame


My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl, when he was stationed
in the Far East: how she was young
and beautiful, and clean.

Until the day she wasn't,
when his pal starts pissing scarlet,
scratching: got a dose, no question
but she'd been with the Yanks.

And there's something in his face
makes me think what he means to say
is 'blacks'. (Except it's not like him
to be so squeamish.)

Quick as a slap, he turns the page:

said the village Chief just listened,
then walked the sixteen years of her
to the centre of the paddy
and shot her in the head.

My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl with my daughter's hair,
with my sister's skin. My uncle
tells this story 'bout a girl

like she is in the wrong.


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#2
lots to like, it reminds me a little of Kipling's ballads. the story, comes across easily and a twist i wasn't expecting. for me some of the lines could be set out for impact. no word changes just lay out.

(05-22-2019, 01:14 AM)Knot Wrote:  .
Shame


My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl, when he was stationed for me 'bout a girl needs it's own line.
in the Far East: how she was young
and beautiful, and clean.

Until the day she wasn't, feels wordy, a suggestion would be to remove [the day]
when his pal starts pissing scarlet,
scratching: got a dose, no question
but she'd been with the Yanks.

And there's something in his face
makes me think what he means to say
is 'blacks'. (Except it's not like him
to be so squeamish.)

Quick as a slap, he turns the page: i like this line, and how it works quick as a slap at changing the direction.

said the village Chief just listened,
then walked the sixteen years of her this line is my favourite, i found it quite emotive.
to the centre of the paddy
and shot her in the head. by far the best stanza. it has clarity and impact, the words of it count. i think some of the other stanza's need to be less wordy and imagery.

My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl with my daughter's hair,
with my sister's skin. My uncle
tells this story 'bout a girl i'm reading the poem as the uncle is the dose-master which for me ties in to the third stanza and the last line where the guilt seems to have been shifted

like she is in the wrong.


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#3
(05-22-2019, 11:25 AM)billy Wrote:  lots to like, it reminds me a little of Kipling's ballads. the story, comes across easily and a twist i wasn't expecting.
for me some of the lines could be set out for impact. no word changes just lay out.

Thanks very much billy.


My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl, when he was stationed for me 'bout a girl needs it's own line.
- OK, but also in the 'daughter/sister' verse ?

Until the day she wasn't, feels wordy, a suggestion would be to remove [the day]
- for me there's a rhythm that would be broken, but also, the 'wordiness' is setting
up the contrast with the stripped back 'paddy' verse. But will ponder.

- Do you think this might work a bit better?
but 'she'd been with the Yanks'.

Quick as a slap, he turns the page: i like this line, and how it works quick as a slap at changing the direction.
- does the 'slap' as part of how they discover 'she'd been with the Yanks' come through?

said the village Chief just listened,
then walked the sixteen years of her this line is my favourite, i found it quite emotive.
- Thanks (mine too). Emotive, but not too much, I hope.
to the centre of the paddy
and shot her in the head. by far the best stanza. it has clarity and impact, the words of it count. i think some of
the other stanza's need to be less wordy and imagery.
- I wanted the contrast between this an the rest, but ...

My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl with my daughter's hair,
with my sister's skin. My uncle
tells this story 'bout a girl i'm reading the poem as the uncle is the dose-master which for me ties in to the third
stanza and the last line where the guilt seems to have been shifted
- OK. I give up. What is a 'dose-master' ? Smile
(Any thoughts on the two 'withs' ?)


Best, Knot



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#4
when his pal starts pissing scarlet,
scratching: got a dose, no question

if you get a dose you're a dose-master Wink Smile
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#5
(05-23-2019, 01:48 PM)billy Wrote:  if you get a dose you're a dose-master Wink  Smile


D'oh!  Smile

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#6
I read a bit of Conrad's "Lord Jim" in this sad story. Those dirty Yanks. What?
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#7
(05-24-2019, 07:24 AM)Matroz Wrote:  What?
What?  Indeed.  Smile

Thanks for the read Matroz.
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#8
Somehow I don't recall seeing this when it got posted. Here's my go.

(05-22-2019, 01:14 AM)Knot Wrote:  Shame


My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl, when he was stationed
in the Far East: how she was young
and beautiful, and clean.

Until the day she wasn't,          // line-breaks are a bit confusing up to this point, and seem arbitrary. I'd play with it and see if you use them any better
when his pal starts pissing scarlet,
scratching: got a dose, no question
but she'd been with the Yanks.

And there's something in his face
makes me think what he means to say
is 'blacks'. (Except it's not like him        // the parentheses are interesting
to be so squeamish.)                          // I think I'd have included the phrase without parentheses

Quick as a slap, he turns the page:     // doesn't roll off the tongue well. Makes the word "slap" feel a bit like a slap.

said the village Chief just listened,
then walked the sixteen years of her
to the centre of the paddy
and shot her in the head.

My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl with my daughter's hair,
with my sister's skin. My uncle
tells this story 'bout a girl

like she is in the wrong.          // is or was? effective line in either case, but the "is" makes me wonder - not sure if I should.

Mostly technical comments -- not much I can say for the content of the poem. It's powerful, but in a strip someone naked then tar and feather them kind of way, not a deep-thought/enlightenment/revelation sort of way. I enjoy it, and I've read it over several times, but I feel like there's contextual information I'm missing between the stanzas.
I know I'm probably falling a bit short for intensive, but the rest of the piece I can simply take as it is. Nothing seems to stand out as exceptionally good or bad - at least to me.
If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
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#9
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Hi UB,
thanks for the read and crit.

I agree than the L2 enjambment isn't that satisfying, did you have any suggestions?


Best, Knot


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#10
I don't feel as if I gain much from the enjambment in S1. As billy said, "'bout a girl," should have it's own line. For me, combining the mention of the speaker's uncle onto the same line suggests a closeness between them, and doesn't contribute to a condescending tone I hear in the final line of the poem. I'd always place a mention of the speaker's uncle above the girl.

Suggestion below:

My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl,
when he was stationed in the Far East: // bonus points having the word East on the right side. Maybe different punctuation though.
how she was beautiful and young // polysyndeton is not really thought well of here, but I learned poetry with it.
and clean. // makes here 'cleanness' a distinct idea
If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
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#11
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Thanks UB.
I take your point about 'closeness' (there was no intent at condescension, by the way, bafflement maybe)
though I'm slightly uneasy about the (implicit endorsement of) hierarchy. Still ...
So if S1 (per your suggestion) then the ending would need to be

My uncle tells this story

'bout a girl
with my daughter's hair, my sister's skin.
My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl

like she is in the wrong.



Does that work for you?

"polysyndeton is not really thought well of here" - allowing for the unintended ambiguity, Smile
I wanted to suggest that, from the uncle's pov, these were equal virtues.


Best, Knot.


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#12
I'm definitely not reading this as intended if you mean for there to be no condescension in the poem -- the title and the final line really suggest it for me. But like I said, the content seems lost on me. Acknowledging a hierarchy doesn't necessarily endorse it, especially if you call it out as something wrong.
Anyway, the same adjustments work well for ending, at least in my opinion.

And regarding the equal virtues, I'd even then reposition the line even further, such as

My uncle tells this story
'bout a girl,
when he was stationed in the Far East:
how she was
beautiful and young and clean.

This visually shows the equality, placing the virtues side by side on the same level.
If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
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