Accident and emergency (edited again)

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joe77evans
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Accident and emergency (edited again)

Post by joe77evans » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:19 pm

Accident and emergency (3)

He contemplates the flashing, silken water.
There are insects skating on the surface,
overhanging trees and distant clouds
distorted by their weight. His name is called -

he turns to see his father rushing over:
his pale little smile and his tension. It's insulting,
all this fuss, this assumption that he cannot
judge the danger for himself. His father

kneels and speaks with quiet urgency.
The boy has learned to simply hold
his gaze and swear: of course, he'll never dive
in shallow water. It's just another rule

to add to all the rest: knives and pills
in bottles, ladders, cars and - strangely -
empty freezers. It's bizarre, his dad's
fixation with disaster. Lately, coming

home from work with darkness in his eyes,
his father almost seems surprised to find
that no-one has been maimed, or died.
The insects glide and flicker, riding

on the surface tension. The river glows,
yellow-green like waldglas; somewhere
down below, shadows hide among
the dark and flowing underwater weeds.


Accident and emergency (2)

He contemplates the flashing, silken water.
There are insects skating on the surface,
overhanging trees and distant clouds
distorted by their weight. His name is called -

he turns to see his father hurrying across,
his face a pale mask of tension.
It's insulting, all this fuss, this assumption
that he cannot judge the danger for himself.

His father kneels and speaks with quiet
urgency. By now he knows to hold
his gaze and swear: of course, he'll never dive
in shallow water. It's just another rule

to add to all the rest: knives and pills
in bottles, ladders, cars and - strangely -
empty freezers. It's bizarre, his dad's
fixation with disaster. Lately, coming

in from work with darkness in his eyes,
he almost seems surprised to find
that no-one has been maimed, or died.
The insects glide and flicker, riding

on the surface tension. The river glows,
yellow-green like waldglas; somewhere
down below, shadows hide among
the dark and flowing underwater weeds.



Accident and emergency (original)

He contemplates the golden, dappled water.
There are insects skating on the surface,
overhanging trees and distant clouds
distorted by their weight. His name is called -

he turns to see his father hurrying across,
his face a pale mask of tension.
It's insulting, all this fuss, this assumption
that he cannot judge the danger for himself.

His father kneels and speaks with quiet
urgency. By now he knows to hold
his gaze and swear: of course, he'll never dive
in shallow water. It's just another

rule to add to all the rest: knives
and pills in bottles, ladders, cars
and - strangely - empty freezers. It's bizarre,
his dad's fixation with disaster. Lately,

coming in from work with darkness
in his eyes, he almost seems surprised
to find that no-one has been maimed,
or died. The insects glide and flicker, riding

on the surface tension. The river glows,
yellow-green like waldglas; somewhere
down below, shadows hide among
the dark and flowing underwater weeds.
Last edited by joe77evans on Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Elphin
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Re: Accident and emergency

Post by Elphin » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:29 pm

Hello Joe

I started reading this and thought Oh No - golden dappled water and skating insects, not very original language and a pretty boring image. I got myself ready to move on or post a heavy crit ...... but then you took the poem somewhere other than the place I expected, into a darker unpredictable place and caught my attention in doing so.

I particularly like the middle section of dangers and the empty freezers in particular.

At times it tends to the prosaic - he turns, his father kneels would be examples, but I think you get away with that, almost a contrast of the mundane actions with the sinsiter threats. It made me think of The Wasp Factory - have you read it - the same underlying menace.

So well done for setting an expectation and completely defeating it

elph

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Re: Accident and emergency (lightly edited)

Post by joe77evans » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:14 am

Thanks Elphin - a slightly complex compliment though, in that it depends on me having intended the beginning to be bland...
I did want to start off with a fairly straightforward scene, then return to it at the end, by which time it would be overlaid with symbolic menace. I've changed the first line to include some slightly more considered adjectives, so that hopefully it's a bit more vivid from the start.
In my mind, the father works in A&E and is struggling with dealing with other people's children who have been horribly injured, then coming home to his own son and watching him in all kinds of situations with potentially awful consequences. I wonder if I need to make that explicit?

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Re: Accident and emergency (lightly edited)

Post by twoleftfeet » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:41 pm

Greetings, Joe

The pace of this poem really takes off in S3.
I'd say it's pretty awesome from "It's just another case.." until the end.

Although :
"Somewhere down below"
- do you need "somewhere"?

I love the "bizarre/disaster" rhyme, and the enjambments linking to the following verses.

My main nits:

S1
Is this really how a child would see the river?
"distant clouds distorted by their weight" seems overly poetic in this context.

S2
his face a pale mask of tension.

- I'm not too keen on this - it seems melodramatic.

S3
By now he knows to hold
his gaze and swear: of course, he'll never dive..


- some possible confusion here, I think.
Maybe something like
"By now he knows - don't look away, and swear you'll never dive.." Just a suggestion.

Much enjoyed
Geoff
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: Accident and emergency (lightly edited)

Post by ljordan » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:32 pm

For me it’s too prosaic and shifting the POV from the boy to father to narrator undermines the dread and menace. Perhaps the poem could use some distancing to what the characters are thinking: ‘watching the river, the boy hears...’ etc. Why is Dad’s fixation with disaster bizarre? Who thinks this? The poem after ‘Lately...’ works because of the distance, perhaps the poem could be broken into two parts and develop the first from the father’s POV. Not sure putting this in quatrains adds anything other than appearance, which is not always bad. Just some thoughts.

larry

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Re: Accident and emergency (lightly edited)

Post by Suzanne » Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:21 pm

I liked the images this invoked, they were like William Morris wall papers, tangled and muted colorful tones, greens, grey deep blue. I feel the edit is tighter than the first version but I liked the L1 of the original better, as you said it starts the poem off in a different almost dull place, seems predicable...but takes us somewhere else.

The use of he for the N and his father is tricky. I can read either one coming home from work, I like it clearer, I guess.

Enjoyed this and will remember it.
Suzanne

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Re: Accident and emergency (lightly edited)

Post by joe77evans » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:52 pm

Thank you very much everyone for the extremely useful feedback. I think I need to do a bit of careful tweaking to make things a little bit clearer and more explicit.

It's all meant to be from the boy's POV, but the first and last stanzas are not exactly his words or thoughts - more what he is looking at, as described by a somewhat knowing observer (me). I did think about the problems of using 'he' and 'his' while working on it but evidently I didn't quite get it right.

I might also try and work in something that explicitly identifies the father as a doctor who works in A&E, which was the starting point for the whole thing - my own memories of being a child whose father worked in A&E. He wasn't scary and neurotic but it was only as an adult that I saw how hard certain things must have been for him, watching us embracing danger while he had a head full of memories of patching up other people's children. But he did have a particular horror about people diving into shallow water, which I must ask him about - I can only guess that he was involved in something tragic that couldn't be mended.

Larry - my current theory regarding stanzas is that I like to use them to loosely frame separate images in a poem, while keeping them all the same length to provide a sense of a formal structure.

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Re: Accident and emergency (lightly edited)

Post by Elphin » Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:25 pm

Joe

My tuppence worth - you don't need to make the fathers job explicit. It's enough to know his father is anxious - let the reader work for the back story.

Elph

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