A Narrow Squeak

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Lou
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A Narrow Squeak

Post by Lou » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:23 am

There were two names the same, a mix-up,
different chest scans, my bad news
bad news no more: the cancer gone,
a week of frightened anguish done.

But someone with my name’s been told
their chest scan was misread; a week
of feeling better, now life’s grim.
Dear God, he thinks, why me, not him?
Last edited by Lou on Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

Ros
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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Ros » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:50 am

Nicely done. Slightly confused with the move from 'they' to 'my' - it's not clear who the 'they' is to start with. Is this a true occurrence? I'm finding it a bit unconvincing that 'they' rely only on names.

Very effective v2, though. Good ending.

Ros
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
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Lou
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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Lou » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:14 pm

Thanks Ros,

No, thankfully, this is not a true story. 'They' are the staff who work in the hospital's X-Ray department.

Best,
Lou

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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Macavity » Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:20 pm

perhaps...There were...to avoid any they confusions.

Either way effectively delivered, a coldness, but the reader would ask if he/she would react any differently.

best

mac

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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by bodkin » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:59 pm

Short, sweet, clever...
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

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Luce
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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Luce » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:23 pm

I like the poem, the simplicity of the lines and how it progresses. Would change the opening line to make the setting clearer though. Maybe to...

"We had the same names, a mix-up,""

I'd also change the ending to what the N feels and not what the N thinks the other guy would feel. Maybe to...

Oh God, I thought It's him not me.

It just sounds more real ending in this way. It reinforces the relief the N feels for himself which is a natural reaction under the circumstances. It's not that the N doesn't feel compassion for the other guy but I doubt if this would be his first thought.

Sorry to say but most people think first of themselves and then of others unless you're a saint in training or something.

Lou wrote:They had two names the same, a mix-up,
different chest scans, my bad news,
bad news no more: the cancer gone,
a week of frightened anguish done.

But someone with my name’s been told
their chest scan was misread; a week
of feeling better, now life’s grim.
Dear God, he thinks, why me, not him?
"She acts like summer, walks like rain." - Train

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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Ros » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:48 pm

I like the ending as it is - the way it brings it back to the narrator and the thought that someone else is wishing the cancer back on him is to me more moving than changing it to the narrator's own view.
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
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Lou
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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Lou » Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:20 am

Thanks Mac,

You're right. 'There were' it is.

Best,
Lou

Thanks bodkin!

Best,
Lou

Thanks Luce,

As Ros says, the narrator is empathising with the poor bloke who got a week's remission, imagining what he must be feeling. It's like when bombs fall, you hope they will fall on someone else.

Best,
Lou

Thanks again, Ros,

I like the twist of perspective but I can understand that some might think it a twist too far.

Best,
Lou

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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by cynwulf » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:10 pm

Very neatly done, epigrammatic.
regards,c.

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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by JJWilliamson » Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:38 pm

Reminds me of the baby mix up, where two babies, born at the same time, were given to the wrong mothers.

Your story is, of course, terrible in its switch of emotions. From the ecstasy and liberation of a benign diagnosis
to the trauma associated with the news of cancer. A devastating turn.

You've intensified the emotion by referencing the experiences of one of the characters and leaving
the reactions of the other person firmly fixed in the reader's mind. Dear God! helps to show the shock
and anguish in S2.

Metrically it reads fine and I note you've split the iamb between L's 1 & 2. OR you have a hypermetrical close in L1 with a headless start in L2. Same difference. :)

Also reminds me of the old joke.

"We've got some good news and some bad news".
"Give me the bad news first, Doc".
"We've cut the wrong leg off".
"Oh no! What's the good news?"
"Your bad leg's getting better".

I'll get me hat.

Best

JJ
Lou wrote:There were two names the same, a mix-up,
different chest scans, my bad news
bad news no more: the cancer gone,
a week of frightened anguish done.

But someone with my name’s been told
their chest scan was misread; a week
of feeling better, now life’s grim.
Dear God, he thinks, why me, not him?
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by TonyMac » Tue Dec 06, 2016 8:43 pm

Very effectively told. Hospitals do sometimes make mistakes and so although fictitious, the reader can believe it is real.
The only suggestion I would make is that I would change the first word in L6 from "their" TO "his" as the end of the poem makes clear that the person is male.
All that I had I brought,
Little enough I know;
A poor rhyme roughly wrought,
A rose to match thy snow:
All that I had I brought.
(Ernest Dowson 1867 - 1900)

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Luce
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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Luce » Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:15 pm

Lou,

It's unfortunate but I think neither ending would work for me anyway. This scenario has been played out in so many movies (ironically mainly comedies) that I can't take it seriously anymore.

In reality, the chances of scans being misread is so much greater than scans being mixed up. Therein lies a real tragic poem I seldom seen written.

As far as empathy shown by the N in the poem...well, I clearly feel the N's relief for himself in the first stanza. However, when it came to the other fellow - not a whole lot there that was convincing to me.

It boils down to L7 - it should be stronger. It should say more than the man feeling better for a week. In addition, ending the line with a phrase that can be interpreted as dismissive - "now life's grim"- did not help matters.

L7 should indicate profound relief closely followed by betrayal. In one moment life is handed back to him, the next moment, it's torn from his grasp. IMHO then, strengthening L7 would make the ending line more poignant.

Oh well, that's my take on it. TOT.

Luce
"She acts like summer, walks like rain." - Train

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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Lou » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:52 am

Thanks cynwulf!

Best,
Lou

Thanks jj,

Unfortunately the joke's on us because these mix-ups seem to be happening more and more.

Best,
Lou

Thanks Tony,

Yes, a good idea.

Best,
Lou

Thanks again, Luce,

You wouldn't think it possible for scans to get mixed-up or miss-read these days after, as you say, numerous movies have used this as a plot device, but it still seems to happen. I agree L.7 could be stronger but, gosh, all the other lines could be stronger too!

Best,
Lou

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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Firebird » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:20 pm

Bitter sweet. It works really well. The final two lines make it for me. It draws into focus in an interesting way the 'why me' question. It could also be interpreted as a sliding doors scenario.

Very good.

Cheers,

Tristan
Lou wrote:There were two names the same, a mix-up,
different chest scans, my bad news
bad news no more: the cancer gone,
a week of frightened anguish done.

But someone with my name’s been told
their chest scan was misread; a week
of feeling better, now life’s grim.
Dear God, he thinks, why me, not him?

Lou
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Re: A Narrow Squeak

Post by Lou » Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:22 am

Thanks Tristan,

It's almost the first reaction of cancer victims when they are told of their illness: 'Why me?' And the Doctor must unkindly think, 'Why not you?'

Best,
Lou

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