Love or Gas

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Perry
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Love or Gas

Post by Perry » Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:19 pm

I love you.

No, not “I love you”, but “I LOOOOOOOOOOVE you”.

That was the extent of my poetry at seventeen.

Of course, whoever he was (I’ve forgotten his name),
I didn’t actually love him. It was more like I sexed him.
It was his tight pants that I loved.
You know how it is: There are always a few kids who learn
how to maximize their sex appeal at an early age.

Of course, being gay, I never told him. I just wrote “I love you”
on scraps of paper all over the house, causing my mother to wonder,
“What’s her name? Have you told her how you feel?”
She was just being hopeful.

Love is such a troublesome thing. Good people love, bad people don’t,
which puts the pressure on us all. But I had integrity.
I never pretended to love the beggar I didn’t give money to.
I never pretended to love the ugly kids.
I never pretended to love my brothers.

Life is best described with clichés.
Love is like the gas in your car. If your tank has never held it,
you don’t know what it is, how it feels, how it transforms you,
how it makes you whole, or how it gives your life a purpose.

Because you are empty, you spend your life waiting for a push.
You wait for seventy years, if that’s what it takes —
complaining the whole time; wondering why no one cares enough
to give you a little push, so you can start to live — until
you realize that they are waiting too.

But then the day comes when you discover that you are moving —
not fast, not far. Just moving. You don’t know how you’re moving,
since your tank is empty. You don’t know where you’re going.
But you notice that you’ve stopped shoving down the pain with food
or drugs or drink, and you are more relaxed.

It is your impending death that made you move, but it is too late.
You are old. You are tired. You are ugly.
No one wants your love.

- end -

Another depressing poem from the Dark Fountain. I know there's a way to end the poem on a cheerful note, but I'm not cheerful enough to figure it out.

Besides the ending, the question is whether the cliché I build the poem around can have some new life breathed into it, or if it has nothing more to offer. I couldn't find another metaphor that worked as well.
Last edited by Perry on Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

Macavity
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Re: Love or Gas

Post by Macavity » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:58 am

I often strive to write an upbeat poem Perry, a life-affirming one, but it has proven more an ambition than an actuality. Sometimes I wonder if it is the medium. I certainly find painting a more positive experience.

Perhaps end with that familiar consolation from Tennyson:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45336/in-memoriam-a-h-h-obiit-mdcccxxxiii-27
Of course, whoever he was (I’ve forgotten his name)
Liked the humour of that.
Of course, being gay, I never told him. I just wrote “I love you”
on scraps of paper all over the house, causing my mother to wonder,
“What’s her name? Have you told her how you feel?”
She was just being hopeful.
And I like the tragi-humour of that.

Perhaps there is a bitter-sweet option to pitch the ending: a celebration of past and present because the vitality of need is still a driver and the 'relaxed' mode really is not driving the poem. More frustrated appetite than resignation, which is a 'youthful' mindset - in my opinion :)

best

mac

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Perry
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Re: Love or Gas

Post by Perry » Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:51 am

Mac, thank you for your thoughtful comments, although I had a bit of a problem deciphering them:

"a celebration of past and present because the vitality of need is still a driver and the 'relaxed' mode really is not driving the poem. More frustrated appetite than resignation, which is a 'youthful' mindset - in my opinion"

So you don't feel that using the cliché of a car with an empty tank is fatal to the poem? I wasn't sure. It really is a cliché, one that people even use in colloquial speech. I figured that if I introduced it as a cliché, I might get away with it.

This still may be a throw-away poem for me, but I figure that everything I write can't be good. I'll keep working on it. Maybe I'll find something wise to say at the end.

I'll try to visit the forum a little more, and pay more attention to your posts.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Love or Gas

Post by Macavity » Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:01 am

I don't find the car metaphor an issue.

No one wants my love, but being wise was never an option.
I find a gas station and fill up the tank. I see a forgotten youth
grinning in the wing mirror.
Just a thought.

best

mac

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Perry
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Re: Love or Gas

Post by Perry » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:27 pm

Interesting suggestion, thank you. That hasn't been my experience, though, as I seem to be living out the remainder of my life alone. I do have friends, however, who have found young lovers in their old age -- but whatever it was that made me undesirable to most people as a young man is still functioning in my old age.

I think that I need to come up with some ending that finds love in being alone. I have, after all, started writing more in my old age, which seems to suggest a fuller tank than I had as a young man. Perhaps I should explore that. You know what I mean: The tank metaphor could be extended -- I had gas in my tank all along but didn't realize it, or something like that.
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Re: Love or Gas

Post by ray miller » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:52 pm

Wouldn't Love Is Gas be a more appropriate title? The central metaphor does little for me, but then I don't drive a car. I did enjoy the penultimate stanza, but the most interesting passage for me is this

Love is such a troublesome thing. Good people love, bad people don’t,
which puts the pressure on us all. But I had integrity.
I never pretended to love the beggar I didn’t give money to.
I never pretended to love the ugly kids.
I never pretended to love my brothers.

Good people find love would be clearer. The idea that bad people don't get loved is prevalent, though patently untrue - think of all the battered wives.
But I had integrity. - I like how integrity, in this instance, can be a byword for selfishness; the refusal to compromise equivalent to entitlement. That's a theme worth exploring.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Love or Gas

Post by Perry » Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:05 am

Ray, I'm sorry that I didn't notice that you had posted a critique two days ago. I wasn't expecting any more comments, so I wasn't watching.

The meaning of this line -- "Good people love, bad people don’t," -- isn't supposed to be "Good people find love, bad people don't find love". What I'm trying to say is, "Good people are people who love, bad people are people who don't love". Having to be loving when you don't have it in you to love is a kind of torture, which is what I'm trying to get at.

I don't think this poem is particularly good. I wrote it out as a kind of therapy and then decided I'd get people's opinions in case there might be something good about it. At best, I have the germ of a good poem here, so I'll keep working at it.

Thanks again. I'll try to post more critiques of my own.
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Re: Love or Gas

Post by Jackie » Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:21 pm

Perry,

To me, the hardest thing in the world to do is to write when I'm low! If you can do that, maybe it's a good time to build up a group of early drafts and feedback to work on later.

I also see many elements of a good poem here.

A line of yours that I really like is
I have, after all, started writing more in my old age, which seems to suggest a fuller tank than I had as a young man.
. You might start another poem with that, and not mention gas at all.

Jackie

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Re: Love or Gas

Post by Perry » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:43 am

Jackie, thanks so much for your positive comments.

Yes, many poems that were disappointing at first evolved into good pieces. I'll keep working on it.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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