Letter home

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k-j
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Letter home

Post by k-j » Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:14 am

In the tropics all trees bear fruit, all streams
cough up too many fish to net. There are tapirs!
There are lovelier things than I can speak of.
The natives spend all their time bathing, love,
deodorising, douching... If you were here,
we'd lie in our sweat and be abominable;

I'd stalk mosquitos with a toothpick spear
and you'd buy guavas, maracujás, cachaça
green as the river, brighter than the sun.
So much for colour. Allow me to tell my dreams:
I dream I'm coming home in a snowstorm,
marching, but each foot leaden and a toad

in my gut. I can't find our home, the houses leer,
confront me, lurch angrily into the street.
Finally I enter the residence of a friend,
go upstairs, find you, as I fumble for the cord,
deodorising, douching... I wake and dream
we're lying in a clearing, sweet and amiable.
fine words butter no parsnips

Macavity
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Re: Letter home

Post by Macavity » Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:15 am

In the tropics all trees bear fruit, all streams
cough up too many fish to net. There are tapirs!
I'd stalk mosquitos with a toothpick spear
and you'd buy guavas, maracujás, cachaça
Great. Haven't read Márquez for a while, but the flavour is there.
There are lovelier things than I can speak of.
So much for colour. Allow me to tell my dreams:
Not totally convinced by these linking devices, seem more formal less natural.

Anyway enjoyed the exotic bits.

cheers

mac

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Re: Letter home

Post by 1lankest » Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Enjoyed very much.
After 'allow me to tell my dreams' I don't think you need to say 'I dream' before 'I'm coming home' . Just jump straight into it. I would prefer it if the last stanza started on 'I can't find my home'. Neater.
Vivid stuff. Douching must be new to poetry!
Luke

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Re: Letter home

Post by joe77evans » Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:37 pm

For some reason this makes me think of Pippi Longstocking, coming home from her cannibal island to Villekulla Cottage... I wonder if it's quite clear enough as to what is in the writing home, what the dreaming and so on? Also it's not quite clear to me why the locals are so clean and the visitors so likely to be sweaty and dirty...

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Re: Letter home

Post by Antcliff » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:41 pm

There are tapirs!
There are lovelier things than I can speak of.
Loved these lines. You can't go wrong with tapirs.

The mystery part of the poem was the stress on smell...and I know smells are something of a k/j theme. On the face if it, why would it be that

"... If you were here,
we'd lie in our sweat and be abominable."

"Abominable" is quite strong. Later on N's partner.. ?..is..

"deodorising, douching..."

and then

" I wake and dream
we're lying in a clearing, sweet and amiable."

So what at first appears to be a poem about other things really becomes a rather strange poem about...overcoming smell? Literally/metaphorically. I rather like the strangeness of it.


Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

David
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Re: Letter home

Post by David » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:33 pm

The first two stanzas are lovely, although "cough" (perhaps) disturbs the mood a little. There are tapirs! Rarely seen an exclamation mark put to better use.

You've got "lovelier" (which could also be love-lier, when you think about it) and love in consecutive lines, and is love you addressing your addressee? If not, should be loving?
k-j wrote:If you were here,
we'd lie in our sweat and be abominable
I take that as meaning you'd be out of place but still quite happy.

The mood changes completely in the last verse, doesn't it? Not sure about the toad in your gut, but the last line is back to the dream, and I like that.

Cheers

David

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Re: Letter home

Post by Mic » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:30 am

Hi kj

On my first reading of this I was absolutely transported by the first two stanzas - really thoroughly enjoyed moving through them for the first time. I wasn't so keen on the third.

Will read again and try to come back with some more thoughts.

Mic
"Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you" - Rumi

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Re: Letter home

Post by Elphin » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:34 pm

As everyone else has said the first two stanzas paint a vivid picture - language is exquisite and evocative.

It does fall away although I do like how the last line is a play on the last line of the first stanza. It feels like this poem is calling to be a sonnet or at least a modern variation. There is the definite volta and the repeated last line adds some form too. I wonder if you chop to this

In the tropics all trees bear fruit, all streams
cough up too many fish to net. There are tapirs!
There are lovelier things than I can speak of.
The natives spend all their time bathing, love,
deodorising, douching... If you were here,
we'd lie in our sweat and be abominable;

I'd stalk mosquitos with a toothpick spear
and you'd buy guavas, maracujás, cachaça
green as the river, brighter than the sun.
So much for colour. Allow me to tell my dreams:
I dream I'm coming home in a snowstorm,
go upstairs, find you, as I fumble for the cord,
deodorising, douching... I wake and dream
we're lying in a clearing, sweet and amiable.

Anyway, do what you will. Just some thoughts

elph

k-j
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Re: Letter home

Post by k-j » Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:27 pm

Thanks all!

Mac, yes, I think you're right about those two lines, especially the second.

Luke, I don't know, but for some reason I've had douching on the brain lately.

Joe, ha, Pippi Longstocking. I've never read it, should I? I want the writing and the dreaming to be confused/merged.

Seth, I hadn't noticed that about smell. But you're quite right. My poems do seem to be more odorous than most. "Abominable" is meant in a slightly facetious way, the way you might describe a loved one who is a bit whiffy, but maybe that doesn't come across, hmm.

David, yes, love is the term of address. Like others, you pick up on the last verse. Originally it was just the first nine lines. The latter nine were a later addition, but I don't think very successful.

Mic, yes you're right, S3 isn't up to scratch.

Elphin, that's a great idea. I think I will just adopt it wholesale. A great improvement, thank you!
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Letter home

Post by nottslinnet » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:57 pm

Hi. Overall I liked this - mainly the first 2 verses which had a bit of a Boys Own Weekly feel to them, with those sort of graphic cartoon bits I love - tooth pick spears, the use of abominable (which I thought was fine) and the Here Be Dragons feel of there may be tapir ( a phrase which recalled the enthusiasm of Maturin in the sea novels of Patrick OBrien). Being 'abominable' with your love in such sensual surroundings sounds right, and fun!

There's a sort of drunken 'Dumbo' feel to the opening lines of S3 -the leering houses. I see their white shutters as a mouthful of teeth. That nightmarish cartoon quality so prevalent in (my) dreams

Is your dream conveying concern that your love has moved on from you? Fumbling for the cord has an undertone of pyjamas about it.

If it were my poem I think I would tell my love of other marvellous things & maybe drop the dream element
Simon

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Re: Letter home

Post by bodkin » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:44 am

Like it.

Especially like:

"...There are tapirs!"

and the enjambment:

"marching, but each foot leaden and a toad

in my gut. I can't find our home, the houses leer,"

--for how it implies your feet are toads.

If I have a nit, it is that in:

"Finally I enter the residence of a friend,"

"residence" falls a bit flat as an overly technical word, and also maybe "house" would scan more slickly...

Ian
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

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Re: Letter home

Post by brianedwards » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:33 pm

It is an incredible poem. I am swooning at the shift in colour. very skilfully done.
S2 l3 is a bit meh. likewise s3 l2. In fact I reckon S3 could probably bring the idea out stronger if tweaked.
Very well crafted.

B.

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Re: Letter home

Post by ray miller » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:33 pm

I like the last verse, my kind of dream. Though residence seems rather formal all of a sudden. Is love at the end of line 4 a term of endearment? Or should it be loving? All very nice, anyhow.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Letter home

Post by MikeAcker » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:49 pm

Enjoyed this very much. I especially like your description of the winter landscape and houses almost pushing against the wind. Well done!

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Re: Letter home

Post by Arian » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:46 pm

Sorry, late to this. But I enjoyed it a lot. Very graphic and evocative.

I particularly liked the toad in my gut, a good phrase complemented by good enjambment.

For me, though, the highlight is:

the houses leer,
confront me, lurch angrily into the street.

which is downright excellent.

I stumbled a bit on 'love' l4. Should it be the participle? Or are you referring to your love?

Anyway, good stuff
peter

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