Grooming

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ray miller
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Grooming

Post by ray miller » Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:51 pm

Hope and distaste, a nauseous mixture
of feelings it was best to keep hidden
from Sajeeda, who showed me your picture

in that edition of Be My Parent,
sharing a page with three mixed-race children
in the kind of online advertisement

that gave me an inkling of your future,
seeking acceptance from any quarter.
They’ve tried to efface nature with nurture

and mask the more unfortunate features
of your Foetal Alcohol Disorder,
massaging a report from your teacher

it’s true, she can be hard to understand
due to delayed language and speaking,
but she makes herself heard
as my wife’s hand

draws the brush through your hair unlinking
all the tangles and knots while you’re screaming
blue murder. Your mother’s secret drinking

has made you wince at a whisper of pain,
you’re not wavy and blonde like your sister.
This week’s Social Worker comes to explain

about your imminent separation;
but you’re not a very good listener
and she’s so hopeless at close relations,

just combs the land for a space you’ll be parked in.
Nobody checks in the mirror these days,
but my wife who’s perfecting your parting

and my reflections which aren’t illumined
by studying ways to make you more safe
when everyone is engaged in grooming.
Last edited by ray miller on Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

Macavity
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Re: Grooming

Post by Macavity » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:25 pm

The negatives of the situation came through Ray: the grooming, the deceptions and pretences, the sense of powerlessness, the legacy of starting this way in life, the vulnerability. How to untangle the knots to create some hope? Teachers, social workers are themselves gobbled up too.

all the best

mac

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Re: Grooming

Post by Antcliff » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:14 pm

Greetings Ray,

I wonder if it would be an idea to cut the last stanza if it does not contain anything too important to you? I think it would be a super ending with that dual meaning of "parting". I know it would still be there if the last line were kept, but it is so nice and I wonder if that last stanza rather crowds it out when it might be left as the closer? Anyway, just mentioning a possibility.

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

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Re: Grooming

Post by Ros » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:19 pm

I'm wondering about Seth's comment...

Perhaps the double meaning of grooming is a bit too prominent, as if the poem is working itself up to that last verse - I found myself waiting for the other type of grooming - whereas the double meaning of parting more took me by surprise and was very effective. Powerful and sad, though.

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Re: Grooming

Post by Firebird » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:47 pm

Hi Ray, I too felt the sense of powerlessness in this poem. It's terrible that so many of us contribute in different ways to this situation.

Anyway to the poem. It affected me, which is good thing.

I'm not a great fan of poem titles that are the last word of the poem too. For me, it makes the title or the final word seem a little redundant. I understand, however, that you are using the word grooming in more than one sense here.

I don't feel qualified to comment on the rhymes, although they mostly seem unforced and natural enough to me.

I am no expert on metre either, but to my ear the lines scan well.

I would like to know why you move from a third person description of the girl to a second person description in stanza 6? Was it to make your narrator's voice relate more closely to the girl? If so, I think it works.

Here are some very small nits and comments.
ray miller wrote:Hope and distaste, a nauseous mixture
of feelings it was best to keep hidden
from Sajeeda, who showed me your picture

in that edition of Be My Parent,
sharing a page with three mixed-race children (I'm not sure this line scans, or maybe it's that the language feels a little clunky towards the end of the line)
in the kind of online advertisement

that gave me an inkling of your future, (I don't know why, but I don't like the sound of the word inkling here. It sounds too overt for an inkling, somehow. Sorry, it's probably just me though)
seeking acceptance from any quarter.
They’ve tried to efface nature with nurture

and mask the more unfortunate features
of your Foetal Alcohol Disorder,
massaging a report from your teacher

it’s true, she can be hard to understand
due to delayed language and speaking,
but she makes herself heard as my wife’s hand

draws the brush through your hair unlinking
all the tangles and knots while you’re screaming
blue murder. Your mother’s secret drinking ('blue murder' is a little clichéd IMHO)

has made you wince at a whisper of pain,
you’re not wavy and blonde like your sister. (Like the implied meaning here)
This week’s Social Worker comes to explain

about your imminent separation;
but you’re not a very good listener
and she’s so hopeless at close relations, (I think a colon might work better at the end of this line)

just combs the land for a space you’ll be parked in.
Nobody checks in the mirror these days,
but my wife who’s perfecting your parting (nice pun)

and my reflections which aren’t illumined (this rhyme sound a little forced IMHO)
by studying ways to make you more safe
when everyone is engaged in grooming.
I also think that the enjambement between stanzas works well, not only as good line breaks but also as an extra level of cohesion.

I hope my comments help a little.

All my best,

Firebird

ray miller
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Re: Grooming

Post by ray miller » Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:41 pm

Thanks all for the comments.
Seth - you're right about ending on parting, it would be so much better and the last verse is the one part I'm not so fond of. I wrote the original a couple of years ago and I remember Brian regretting a lack of symmetry in the rhyme scheme, which I've corrected. But now I'll have to think again - one day. It has to take its turn in the queue.

Firebird -I'm ok with the title, but, yeah, perhaps grooming doesn't need to be in the body of the poem. The 4th stanza was meant to be italicized, I've now corrected that.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Grooming

Post by k-j » Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:11 am

Just wanted to say I think this is really good and I also had the same thought about the ending as the great minds above me. I think "illumine / grooming" is a pretty blunt rhyme compared to the ones before.

Is "efface nature with nurture" really right? Depends where one stops and the other starts I suppose.
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JJWilliamson
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Re: Grooming

Post by JJWilliamson » Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:35 pm

Hi Ray

I think you have addressed a difficult subject very well and have presented an excellent hook with your title. I liked the rhymes
and enjambment throughout. A couple of thoughts:

* S1 is quite ominous with 'nauseous mixture'. It works well with the title.

* You're using ten syllables, for the most part, per line. The meter varies somewhat and is difficult to scan in places.
EG S1L1 I can find four natural stresses but can force five.

HOPE/and disTASTE/ a NAUS/eous MIXture/ 4 varied feet and four stresses. I'm not really sure of my scan btw.

HOPE/and disTASTE/ a NAUS/eous/MIXture/ possibly five feet but I'm walking on coals here.

The poem does flow well and that's why I can't offer a full and accurate scansion on your poem. I'll be
very interested to read how other members view the meter. I think your rhyme scheme had me expecting
conventional meter with several iambic substitutions. Perhaps it's my inability to escape from the entrenched
impressions of middle age.

Nevertheless, a poem to engage the sensibilities of the strictest die-hard.

Best

JJ

PS

The opening line could consist of a troche followed by an iamb... HOPE and/ disTASTE/a NAUS/eous MIXture/ So I scan troche, iamb, iamb, possible anapest + fem end. I'm not sure what to do with 'eous'. I can't spot any natural stress and once again begin to doubt myself.

Hmm JJ
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ray miller
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Re: Grooming

Post by ray miller » Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:06 pm

Thanks, K-J AND JJ.
I'm not sure about efface nature with nurture now. I wrote it 2 years ago, so I'm guessing that I meant Foetal Alcohol Syndrome was, in some sense, her natural state, or to be more exact, her born-with state.
Most of the poem flows ok, I think, but the opening stanza less so. It's probably because it's a new addition, as is the final stanza. It bodes ill that these two are being singled out!
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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