I'm not really listening

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Mic
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I'm not really listening

Post by Mic » Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:10 am

when she tells me
she's tired after getting up at midnight
to watch Andy Murray in the US Open,
then golf somewhere else in the world –
those white balls making strange trajectories
through air and into holes;

when she tells me
about the garbled letter
from her older brother,
the medication for his heart
not mixing well with anti-depressants
so they've taken him off them;

when she tells me
that the mice are back,
she's seen droppings in the pantry
and in what was once my old room,
that she'll have to put poison by the hole
where she thinks they're coming up;

when she tells me
a classmate from the Sacred Heart
has got in touch after all these years -
they'd have been only five or six then,
just before grandmother died - and that
she wishes the past would stay put.

So when I get off
and the bus holding her carries on,
I turn my head and raise my arm to wave,
I can feel my whole arm waving,
my whole body is waving,
but she's not looking.


Edit as per steamboat"s suggestion
(PS - I owe crits and a couple of replies - will catch up this week --- Mic)
Last edited by Mic on Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:45 pm, edited 9 times in total.
"Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you" - Rumi

steamboats
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Re: On the bus home, I'm not really listening

Post by steamboats » Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:13 am

The end doesn't work, though know exactly what you're doing and it is a good idea. The word 'and' at the start of the last stanza needs to go I think cos 'On the bus home, I'm not really listening......and when I get off...I wave' doesn't make sense. You could put 'so' instead of 'and', but I think the last bit May need to be reconstructed to make the contrast between the not listening and the waving more pronounced and coherent. Really good concept, tho. You read Billy Collin's poem 'The Lanyard'?

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Re: I'm not really listening

Post by oranggunung » Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:07 am

Hi Mic

This feels like a near miss.
I agree that the twist of the last verse isn't quite right at the moment.
I think it needs to be, in order for the whole poem to be effective.

Are you allowed to state explicitly, "She isn't listening when I get off
and the bus carrying her ... ?

Less subtle, of course, but unambiguous imho.

og

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Re: I'm not really listening

Post by 1lankest » Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:58 am

I like it but needs something.
The end is wrong - I had assumed she was N's mother but the ending suggests otherwise, as why would she leave her elderly mother on the bus? Actually, she well might, but it seems unlikely. But why is she waving if not a relative? It seems to lack tenderness, which I know is intended at the start and through the middle sections, but you fail to recapture some warmth at the end which I feel is important. Almost there though. Why is she not looking? Would it be better if she was waving too, and looking but not seeing (without the cliche)? Just a thought.

'when she tells me
a classmate from the Sacred Heart
has got in touch after all these years -
they'd have been only five or six then,
just before grandmother died - and that
she wishes the past would stay put.' - this is super- the best stanza IMO.

Luke

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Re: I'm not really listening

Post by bodkin » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:10 pm

Similarly to others I am fishing for the relationship (both in name and detail) between the N and the addressee...

At first I thought lovers, but I may just have been primed for that by your previous poem.

I can see how mother/child might fit, e.g. if "staying on the bus" is looking to the possibility of the parent dying?

My big question is how does the title, of the N not listening (which she clearly really is, as she can quote all that detail of what what said) fit with the final image of the addressee not looking?

So I am trying to like this, I think there may be things to really enjoy, but at the moment my puzzlement is too much and blocks me...

Ian
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

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Re: I'm not really listening

Post by Antcliff » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:35 pm

I especially liked the ambiguity of the ending, Mic. Is the whole body waving because the person is warmly wishing them well, or because they are (given the roll call of misery) rather glad to see them go on this occasion, or bit o'both. Perhaps N does not really know. I think it nicely expresses a kind of ambiguity that is typical of such interactions. As for the relationship... could be mother, auntie, ex-lover. Enjoyably open I think.

So it is a thumbs up from me, Mic.

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

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Re: On the bus home, I'm not really listening

Post by Mic » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:39 pm

steamboats wrote:The end doesn't work, though know exactly what you're doing and it is a good idea. The word 'and' at the start of the last stanza needs to go I think cos 'On the bus home, I'm not really listening......and when I get off...I wave' doesn't make sense. You could put 'so' instead of 'and', but I think the last bit May need to be reconstructed to make the contrast between the not listening and the waving more pronounced and coherent. Really good concept, tho. You read Billy Collin's poem 'The Lanyard'?

Thanks Steamboats. At your suggestion, I've reworked the last stanza a little, but it still seems things aren't very clear. Yes, I do know that poem of Billy Collins - lovely.
oranggunung wrote:Hi Mic

This feels like a near miss.
I agree that the twist of the last verse isn't quite right at the moment.
I think it needs to be, in order for the whole poem to be effective.

Are you allowed to state explicitly, "She isn't listening when I get off
and the bus carrying her ... ?

Less subtle, of course, but unambiguous imho.

og
Another one not keen on the last verse. Ach! And I like it (but then of course I would).
1lankest wrote:I like it but needs something.
The end is wrong - I had assumed she was N's mother but the ending suggests otherwise, as why would she leave her elderly mother on the bus? Actually, she well might, but it seems unlikely. But why is she waving if not a relative? It seems to lack tenderness, which I know is intended at the start and through the middle sections, but you fail to recapture some warmth at the end which I feel is important. Almost there though. Why is she not looking? Would it be better if she was waving too, and looking but not seeing (without the cliche)? Just a thought.

'when she tells me
a classmate from the Sacred Heart
has got in touch after all these years -
they'd have been only five or six then,
just before grandmother died - and that
she wishes the past would stay put.' - this is super- the best stanza IMO.

Luke
Hi Luke. So, she is the N's mother (I'd hoped that 'in what was once my room' and 'grandmother' might be clues...). My mum lives a few stops up the road from me (so I get off the bus before her). She's not looking just because she is looking out of the other window. Thought I'd say, but of course the poem raises but doesn't answer these issues.
bodkin wrote:Similarly to others I am fishing for the relationship (both in name and detail) between the N and the addressee...

At first I thought lovers, but I may just have been primed for that by your previous poem.

I can see how mother/child might fit, e.g. if "staying on the bus" is looking to the possibility of the parent dying?

My big question is how does the title, of the N not listening (which she clearly really is, as she can quote all that detail of what what said) fit with the final image of the addressee not looking?

So I am trying to like this, I think there may be things to really enjoy, but at the moment my puzzlement is too much and blocks me...

Ian
Ian, yes, I suppose the N has taken in quite a lot of the detail, but I'd hoped that the sense of not really listening might come across.

Think this one needs some work!

Thanks all

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

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Re: I'm not really listening

Post by Mic » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:40 pm

Antcliff wrote:I especially liked the ambiguity of the ending, Mic. Is the whole body waving because the person is warmly wishing them well, or because they are (given the roll call of misery) rather glad to see them go on this occasion, or bit o'both. Perhaps N does not really know. I think it nicely expresses a kind of ambiguity that is typical of such interactions. As for the relationship... could be mother, auntie, ex-lover. Enjoyably open I think.

So it is a thumbs up from me, Mic.

Seth
Phew!

(It's regret at not really listening)

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

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Re: I'm not really listening

Post by Antcliff » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:55 pm

O, I see. But then why the sense of distance from the action in the end? Am I misreading?
I turn my head and raise my arm to wave,
N is intending to wave
I can feel my whole arm waving,
The arm waves (i.e. not so much N?)
my whole body is waving
whole body waves (i.e. not N or arm?)

I wondered if the sense of dissociation from the action was intended to convey some uncertainty/ambiguity?


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

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Re: I'm not really listening

Post by Moth » Wed Aug 20, 2014 11:58 pm

Initially this reminded me of a friend - talks so much about trivial issues people find themselves switching off. Only the 'my room' line told me this was N's mother - perhaps a similar clue could be worked in nearer the start? Half of me feels the end would work better if the mother got off the bus (leaving with more of a hint of permanent departure) though I understand from what you have that you wish to convey the mother knowing the daughter wasn't listening and the waving her attempt to say she does care and very much so, 'whole body' being indicative of this. Depends how much you want to read into it, I suppose, and if you intend to veer towards the morose - too obvious maybe? Anyway, I'm arguing with myself.... so... as it stands I can picture the scene, the differences between the generations simmering beneath the surface, the important things not being said and the sense that N does hear but doesn't (or doesn't want to) listen to what lies 'between the lines', but I do think the mother ought to be recognised for who she is at the start or the poem's meaning may become diluted (or lost) by the reader wondering 'who is she?' or inventing their own character to the extent that the one small give-away phrase may be missed.
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: I'm not really listening

Post by Sue98765433 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:13 am

Hi,

Really liked this...didn't really know why I liked it. After reading the comments and the poem again, I think it invokes that feeling of suddenly realising that time is not infinite. The whole arm then body waving felt like the desperation of trying to give or get something back when it may be too late and you've just not tried hard enough..

I read this as a son to his mum. And the strange thing is, there is such a real level of detail in the things he wasn't listening to, that he must have been listening! Feels more like a happy ending now :)

Sue

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Re: I'm not really listening

Post by Jackie » Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:41 am

Hi Mic,

For several stanzas I thought this was about a tired marriage, which to me is such a tired theme in a poem I might have given up if I weren't trying to come up with a crit. The line about the room let me know it was about an intergenerational relationship—could you consider placing this or another such hint earlier in the poem? I agree that the emotion that comes across is regret that the older person's life seems petty to N; that N can't care more. It's a sad truth about caring for elderly relatives, and brought out well in dialogue (monologue?!) here.

About that line: could you drop either once or old from it? (It was once my old room.).

IMHO, the last stanza (last sentence) doesn't work for a grammatical reason. It doesn't quite hang together grammatically, but also the poignancy of the poem for me is that the older person didn't really care whether N listened (wasn't looking), so that should be the salient part of the sentence. Instead, the main clause is about what N is doing, so the last line falls flat.

I did enjoy this!

Jackie

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