His Ex (revised)

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Joao
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His Ex (revised)

Post by Joao » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:12 am

Revised

Seventeen years,
our time;
seventeen months,
was theirs:
these are the terms
of his preference,
these, which, I know,
merely measure
two vessels:
one, the guilty vial
in a secret corner,
the thick smell of perfume,
forever sweet;
the other,
the generous bucket
diluted with water,
polluted with soap, sweat
and tears.


Original

Seventeen
Years,
Our time;
Seventeen
Months,
Was theirs.
These are the terms
Of his preference,
The homely comfort
Of smiling, paternal
Good sense,
Despite which,
Against which,
These, in fact,
Measure two vessels:
One, the guilty vial
In a secret corner,
The thick smell of perfume,
Forever sweet;
The other,
The generous bucket
Diluted with water,
Polluted with soap, sweat
And tears.
Last edited by Joao on Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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JJWilliamson
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Re: His Ex

Post by JJWilliamson » Mon Jun 27, 2016 5:20 pm

Hi, Joao

I enjoyed reading this poem and even though I'm struggling to connect with the
content I've read it a few times. There's a lot to like, poetically speaking, and some
of the nuances are noticeable.

Some thoughts for your deliberation:

The rhythm is very good in its entirety.

A cap' at the head of each line is distracting and isn't usually used in modern verse. Makes it easier to follow if you employ conventional punctuation. But! Each to their own.

I expected an ex-partner but I can't be sure if that's right.
Joao wrote:Seventeen
Years,
Our time; ...got me interested. "Our time" made me think of human years versus doggy years. Then 17 months pops up to scupper that one.
Seventeen
Months,
Was theirs. ...Again, you've aroused my curiosity. Who are they, I wonder. Intriguing. Months makes me think of babies and PND.
These are the terms
Of his preference, ...Powerful couple of lines..."These are the terms" demands to be heard.
The homely comfort
Of smiling, paternal
Good sense,
Despite which,
Against which,
These, in fact,
Measure two vessels: ...It all sounds very good but I still don't know what's happening. I know you do, btw.
One, the guilty vial
In a secret corner, ...Ok, I'm getting the idea. I vial, and a guilty one at that.
The thick smell of perfume,
Forever sweet; ...The perfume smell has me thinking of drugs. Has his/her partner committed suicide or overdosed?
The other,
The generous bucket ...Is this code? Not following.
Diluted with water, ...Bit lost here.
Polluted with soap, sweat ...I get the feeling the bucket is there to rinse a mop and clean up the mess.
And tears. ...Something awful has happened but I'm not sure what.
I get the feeling the bucket is there to mop up the mess. I think a little more would go a long way.

Overall, I liked this. I'm left with the impression of a depressed mother who takes her own life
and a father who was so distracted by his idea of family life that he missed the signs till it was too late.
He will remember the perfume, the sweat and the tears of grief and regret.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: His Ex

Post by Boat » Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:56 pm

Well done , JJ, you got more out of the poem than I did.

Hello, Joao.

Sorry, I'm still scratching my head over this one, I'll try again. In the meantime maybe some other insights from other posters might help me realize what is going on.
I'm new to poetry so something this abstract is hard for me to figure out. I'm sure the problem lies more with me than with your poem.

Regards.

Pat.
What the hell do I know about poetry?

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Re: His Ex

Post by Moth » Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:53 am

I found it easy to understand the subject and message, but would be tempted to tighten up and format differently - don't quite get the need for the single word lines - seventeen for instance brought me in mind of the age to begin with so unless hinting at the latest ex being this young it has no purpose - if it is intended this way you could consider using Seventeen as the title.

My thoughts run along these lines though you could also think about rewording the cliche at the end as it spoils the great image of the two vials and the associated allusion.

Seventeen years, our time;
seventeen months, theirs.
These were the terms
of his preference.
The homely comfort of smiling,
paternal good sense
measured against a second
vessel:
the guilty vial
in a secret corner,
the thick smell of perfume,
masking the scent of the other;
the generous bucket
diluted with water,
polluted with soap, sweat
and tears.

Hope this helps and you don't mind me playing around with your poem too much.
to be totally honest... whenever you feel you really shouldn't write that, that's exactly what you should write.

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Re: His Ex

Post by ray miller » Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:47 am

I like most of it, the last 9 lines are the best.

These are the terms
Of his preference,
The homely comfort
Of smiling, paternal
Good sense,
Despite which,
Against which,
These, in fact,
Measure two vessels:

I think these lines become unnecessarily complicated towards the end. I'd suggest losing the middle stuff and going for

These are the terms
of his preference.
These, which
measure two vessels...
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Joao » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:02 am

Thanks everyone for your attentive reading and suggestions.

Ray, I think I agree with you, and I suspect this is what was making it all unclear for the others. I've revised it, thank you. With those middle lines I was trying to convey her distrust of his reassurance, but it seems they ended up obscuring the link between two 'terms' and two 'vessels'.

JJ, Moth and Pat, I'd be curious to hear if you think the revision would've made the poem clearer to you.

JJ, you're right, the caps are distracting, thank you.

Pat, not at all, I obviously could've made the poem clearer. Please don't let it discourage you.

Moth, I used the single-word lines to emphasise the contrast between "months" and "years", everything else held equal (same reason why "seventeen" is repeated).

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by JJWilliamson » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:52 pm

Yes, I've got it now. I've got it all, in fact. :)

"These are the terms of his preference".

Is 'preference' the right word? -- Position, commission, mandate, arrangement etc

I wondered if 'were' would fit better, given the ex is past tense.

This would give you, EG only,

Seventeen
years,
our time;
seventeen
months,
was theirs:
these were the terms
of his provision,
these, which, I know,
merely measured
two vessels:
one, the guilty vial
in a secret corner,
the thick smell of perfume,
forever sweet;
the other,
the generous bucket
diluted with water,
polluted with soap, sweat
and tears.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by David » Thu Jun 30, 2016 4:12 pm

Well I'm still baffled, and - although I know this is cheating - would value a paraphrase. I'd like to engage with the poem - there are quite a few lines I like - but I find I can't, quite, at the moment.

No doubt I'll feel duly abashed once I've got the paraphrase.

Cheers

David

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Joao » Thu Jun 30, 2016 4:29 pm

Thanks, David, yes, I still think I'm not being clear enough. Here's the paraphrase (any suggestions you might have to convey it more clearly would be very welcome!): this is a married woman reacting to her husband reassuring her that his previous relationship, which was only brief (months), was unimportant when compared to their long marriage (years). She's not reassured: the length (or the size) of these two vessels are irrelevant to her when compared to their contents. She's convinced that the sweet guilty memory of his ex lingers in a secret corner of his conscience, disparaging, by contrast, their married life, which is filled with everyday trifles and frustrations.

JJ, does the above justify the choice of 'preference' to you? This preference is affirmed in the present, which is why I wouldn't use the past tense as you suggest.

Thanks again.
Joao

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Boat » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:05 pm

Hello, Joao.

'These are the terms of his preference', I'm still struggling with these lines. I get the poem now, before I read your clues I got it, linking the title into the poem made a difference to my understanding too.
But I'm still not liking the lines mentioned above.

Otherwise it seems a fine poem to me.

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What the hell do I know about poetry?

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by trobbo44 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:10 pm

I don't yet most of it. Very muddled with little rythymn

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Joao » Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:13 pm

Thanks, Pat, yes, I probably need to rethink that line.

Thanks for reading it, trobbo, sorry it didn't work for you.

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by David » Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:54 pm

Ah, thanks for the paraphrase, Joao. Sorry to have been so literal-minded as to require it. I can follow that, and I can - just - squeeze that sense from the poem now, but it's still a bit of a strain. As others have said, "these are the terms / of his preference" is a strange way of putting that, and I think you could come up with a better metaphor than the vial and the bucket. Can you?

While I'm being awkward, I'd like the lines to be longer too!

Cheers

David

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by k-j » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:23 pm

I think you've done a great job with the revision, turned a good poem into a very good one. It reads very well, good rhythm and, to me, a powerful and appropriate metaphor. Nice to see such a good, uncomplicated use of metaphor.
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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Joao » Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:42 pm

Thank you for your frankness, David, I really appreciate it. I think I like the metaphor as it is (I don't think I can improve it, sorry), but I'd be keen to know what it is about it that you don't like.

Sorry for the short lines:
asthmatics,
always short
of breath.

Thanks, k-j, very glad you like it.

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Moth » Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:26 am

Just to say
these are the terms of his preference,
I like very much - it creates a very courtroom atmosphere if that makes sense, gives the impression that the guy's on trial which I guess he is in a way... I think you got me wrong before as for the most part I do like the poem (both versions) I just thought the single lines of seventeen placed a bit too much focus on the number where as its the months versus years which is more important, and the 'sweat and tears'' thing could have been worded a little more originally.
to be totally honest... whenever you feel you really shouldn't write that, that's exactly what you should write.

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Joao » Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:37 pm

Thanks, Moth, on second thought, I think I agree with you on the first lines. It also flows better, your way. I've revised it, thank you. I couldn't think of anything better suited to the metaphor than 'sweat' and 'tears' (also, I wouldn't want to give up the assonance between 'sweet' and 'tears'), but curious to hear if you thought of any other possibility. Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Macavity » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:16 pm

hi Joao,
I have no issues with the skinny form. There are plenty of poems that exist in this form. Just a matter of reading down the page. I liked the notion of the generous bucket. I don't thread pollution with soap - my association with the latter is the opposite - cleansing.
the cloying of perfume,
forever sweet
Just a thought.

all the best

mac

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Boat » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:42 pm

Hello, Joao.

I like (and understand) this much better now.

Just one nit for me, 'the generous bucket diluted with water'. You don't dilute a bucket but rather its contents so this line doesn't read well for me. I know you add soap, sweat and tears but you have these under pollutants rather than diluents.

Othewise a job well done.

Pat.
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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by Joao » Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:40 pm

Thanks for your comments, mac. I suppose soap could be thought of as a pollutant if dumped in a substance valued for its purity, like a clear river (or perfume), for example. I wouldn't use 'cloying' because the wife actually suspects the contrary: that her husband still relishes in that powerful scent from the past.

Thanks, boat, glad it sounds better to you. With the bucket, I took a poetic licence called metonymy: presenting one object to refer to another associated with it.

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Re: His Ex (revised)

Post by trobbo44 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:23 am

Hi Joao,

The revised version is much better. The punctuation works and the rhyme sits comfortably throughout. However, I strongly believe that the poem could stand a few more words of explanation in convenient places. All the best

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