Spring Cleaning
#1
When I was nineteen I cleaned her house
Top to bottom.
Washed away her boredom
With my greying sponge
And ran my fingers through
Her scarves and clothes.
I liked one particular belt
With a butterfly clasp.
It felt cold and heavy.

I loved her husband something
thick and desperate.
He looked like I thought men should look.
With my mop I followed
His dirty footprints on the
Linoleum. Sometimes I thought
About stealing his cigars.

I cleared away lipstick stained coffee cups
And half-dressed glasses of wine.
Lifting soot from the fireplace
I cradled a picture of her mother
On the mantlepiece,
Before wiping the dust away.

Walking home I lost
the money she gave me.
I spent the afternoon retracing my steps,
Honeysuckle in my nose and
wind burning my eyes.
I never did find that twenty.
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#2
The poem's literalness is its strength here: "I cleared away lipstick-stained coffee cups," or "Walking home I lost the money she gave me." And the metaphoric parts feel weak: "Removed cobwebs from her lonely corners." You don't have to tell me she lives a lonely lifestyle. You have/can describe(d) it through the objects.

And the perspective of this person is just a snapshot in time. Not every poem needs to have a clear message. Although you could add some interest in the character's interaction with others. Cleaning up dirty foot prints in the linoleum isn't as enticing as saying he/she walked along the dirty footsteps before cleaning. Revise some of the cliched parts with something of interest.
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#3
Thanks for the feedback whyelliswhy. I agree about the lonely corners. I have made some amendments below.

When I was nineteen I cleaned her house
Top to bottom.
Washed away her boredom
With my greying sponge
And ran my fingers through
Her scarves and clothes.
I liked one particular belt
With a butterfly clasp.
It felt cold and heavy.

I loved her husband something
thick and desperate.
He looked like I thought men should look.
With my mop I retraced
His dirty footprints on the
Linoleum. Sometimes I thought
About stealing his cigars.

I cleared away lipstick stained coffee cups
And dregs of wine,
Removed cobwebs from her
Corners
And cradled a picture of her mother
On the mantlepiece,
Before wiping the dust away.

Walking home I lost
the money she gave me.
I spent the afternoon retracing my steps,
Honeysuckle in my nose and
wind burning my eyes.
I never did find that twenty.
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#4
.
Hi penned.

I like the portrait of the narrator, but there are a couple of places where it seems either underwritten (L5-9, I don't think the envy/possessiveness is strong enough) or irrelevant (L20-22). And theending doesn't satisfy. Why does it matter that N didn't find the money? It didn't seem to be why she/he was cleaning the house in the first place.

Either all likes should begin with a capital, or just where it's necessary. My vote is for the latter.


When I was nineteen
I cleaned her house
Top to bottom.
For twenty bucks.

Washed away her boredom
With my greying sponge
(I think you need something better than 'greying', and isn't it 'wiped away'? And how does N's cleaning wash away her boredom? What, if any, was her interest in N?)
cleared lipsticked coffee cups
And dregs of wine,
(Anything better than dregs? Why was there wine remaining in the glasses? What got interrupted?)

Removed cobwebs from her corners.
(Couldn't N 'unspin' the cobwebs, or something more interesting than 'removed'?)
And cradled a picture of her mother
On the mantelpiece
Before wiping the dust away.

In her/their bedroom I ran
my fingers through Her scarves
and clothes. I liked one
('clothes' is a bit non-specific)
particular belt

With a butterfly clasp.
It felt cold and heavy.
(What's the significance of 'cold and heavy'? Like to see a bit more of N's willingness to intrude)


I loved her husband
something thick and desperate.
He looked like I thought men should.
I followed His dirty footprints

With my mop on the Linoleum.
(agree with whyellis that there needs to be more here)
Sometimes I thought
About stealing his cigars.
(and does N steal them? And why cigars? What's the attraction?)

Walking home I lost the money
she gave me. I spent the afternoon
retracing my steps,
(this should really echo the 'dirty footprints' but it doesn't quite.)
Honeysuckle in my nose and
wind burning my eyes.
I never did find that twenty.
(and so ... what?)



Best, Knot.



.
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#5
Perhaps it should be the $20 HE gave you.




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#6
(06-06-2020, 01:16 AM)penneddown Wrote:  When I was nineteen I cleaned her house
Top to bottom.
Washed away her boredom
With my greying sponge .... I like the juxtaposition of a presumably greying, bored middle aged employer and the grey sponge
And ran my fingers through
Her scarves and clothes.
I liked one particular belt
With a butterfly clasp.
It felt cold and heavy. ..... the 'cold and heavy' has a nice visceral feel to it

I loved her husband something
thick and desperate.
He looked like I thought men should look.
With my mop I followed
His dirty footprints on the
Linoleum. Sometimes I thought ....  this to me is the best part of the poem. You can see it.
About stealing his cigars.

I cleared away lipstick stained coffee cups
And dregs of wine,
Removed cobwebs from her corners. ..... 'dregs of wine' is overdone. And with cobwebs come corners. A trite predictable
And cradled a picture of her mother
On the mantlepiece, .... this is another arresting image, with the narrator living a comfortable, privileged life vicariously
Before wiping the dust away.

Walking home I lost
the money she gave me.
I spent the afternoon retracing my steps,
Honeysuckle in my nose and
wind burning my eyes. .... after all the sensations of the touch of tangible things (buckles, scarves, pictures on shelves, sponge in hand), comes the touch of the less tangible. It is connected to the preceding parts of the poem, but is not repetitive. I felt my eyes burning when I read it
I never did find that twenty. .. I'm not too sure if this adds anything to the poem. What's the significance of losing the money? Would it have been any different had the poem ended with 'and the sky was purple'? Also, the twenty / nineteen connection is confusing. You look for a connection which is not there. A weak ending to an otherwise great poem

I like this. It's as good as anything I've read on this site.
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#7
Thanks for the feedback !

I have changed the cobweb image and the “dregs of wine” as it seems to be popular consensus that these are the weakest. I would be interested to hear any feedback on the changes.
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