The Rug Man

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Perry
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The Rug Man

Post by Perry » Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:10 pm

You have the dark stubble of a criminal,
but you act like Christ come back to life --
kind, familiar, using the words of friendship
not lost and never to be lost, even though
we are strangers. You are here to take my rug
and to clean it! But I see more to you than that.

You are an “average Joe”, a man without guile --
a rare and valuable thing to be.
You live life without tragedy. You are not
here to fight, nor to make more money than
the stated fee. Your chosen trade will never
make you rich, but you appear to be happy.

Me, I am a love-starved homosexual,
a sometimes dangerous thing. Your easy kindness
causes me to look past you to my own needs,
to what you might do for me. A life of hurts
has left a black hole where my heart should be.
You do not see that I am a predator.

But today I try to be normal too.
I don’t reduce you to your beauty, though I
do notice the slender muscle of your frame.
I don’t remark that you are attractive.
I don’t make suggestions, lurid or tame.
Today I allow you to keep your dignity

(knowing, of course, you’ll be back in a week
with my carpet professionally cleaned).

-end-

I tried to come up with a poem that has some subtlety (for Elphin), and this was the closest thing I could find. It is another gay-themed poem (written less than a year ago, and never critiqued). I hope that there aren't any homophobes on the forum. An alternative title that I considered was "The Cat and the Mouse", but I thought that was too obvious. The whole time he was here, I was trying to figure out a way to get him out of his pants.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by David » Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:26 pm

Your poems have an honesty that is very disarming, Perry. I don't necessarily see a lot of subtlety in here, seeing you mention that in particular, but that's not really a criticism - just an observation. On the contrary, it seems very open to me (so there must be some subtlety I am missing).

Still, I like it.

Cheers

David

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Perry
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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Perry » Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:06 pm

David, I probably should allow more people to comment before responding, but I am thrilled that you like it.

I see this poem as one which winds through a slightly complicated psychological story (i.e., a narrative poem with psychological elements), and I wasn't sure people would grasp it.

Thank you!
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by 1lankest » Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:25 pm

Ha! Love the ending. Like the poem overall. Subtle occasionally but I don't see why subtlety needs to be yours, or anyone's, holy grail. Write what you write, Perry. We are enjoying it! Let me return after more thought with more specific feedback.

L

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Binz » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:05 am

Hi Perry,

I find this easy to read and quite straight forward. That's not always the case with some I read elsewhere. You mention that you were trying to figure out a way to get him out of his pants. I think there is an opportunity to put more of that into this poem (or a new one). It has more of him in it and it would be interesting to get more of an insight into what was going on inside your self; to give it more emotion of desire/lust/etc, a feeling of optimism it will happen with this guy, or frustration that it won't (if you are happy to share that much of course).

Binz
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Re: The Rug Man

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Aug 30, 2018 12:45 pm

Hi Perry,
enjoyed the read, though was disappointed to find
'take my rug' was not a euphemism, or did I miss
something? :)

I'm not sure you need verses two and three,
I think it reads well without them.
Minor nit, the repetition of 'but'.

Just a thought:
You have the dark stubble of a criminal,
[yet] you act like Christ come back to life --
kind, familiar, using the words of friendship
not lost and never to be lost, even though
we are strangers. You are here to take my rug
and to clean it! But I see more to you than that.


[So] today [I'll] try to be normal, too.
I
[w]on’t reduce you to your beauty, though I
[will] notice the slender muscle of your frame.
I
[w]on’t remark that you are attractive.
[No, nor] make suggestions, lurid or tame.
Today
[both of us shall keep our] dignity

(Not too sure about 'dignity')

Regards, Not.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Mirrorball » Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:43 pm

Hi Perry,

The subtly for me in this poem is that I wonder if rug man is gay too and also that I'm strangely attracted to him, which makes me question my own sexuality. There's definitely poetry in rug man's character and you have a good eye for it.

I struggle a bit with the narrator's character because in contrast he's quite primative and sinister. I know you told me previously that you see sex in poetry as something shallow. It certainly comes across that way here.

I enjoyed the read thanks. I don't think you'll find any homophobia in the poetry community.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Perry » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:37 pm

1lankest, I look forward to hearing any further comments you have. You seem to like the poem overall, and that pleases me.

Binz, I'll think about the things you said. I didn't want to be too sexually explicit in the poem. I just wanted to drop enough information for the reader to get the idea of what was going on. Sexual predation isn't really about sex; it’s about emotional desperation.

I should add that I don't count myself as a sexual predator, at least not in the legal sense. But I've lived a lonely life, and there have been a few times when I applied sexual pressure on people when it was inappropriate.

NQS, thank you for your comments. It always distresses me when someone suggests cutting out large portions of a poem. In this case, cutting out the two middle stanzas would remove most of the story development.

The message of the final two lines is that the narrator will have an opportunity to proposition the rug man again when he returns, so the story isn't over. What actually happened was that he came and went very quickly on the second visit. Besides, I'm really not capable of such inappropriate behavior as to proposition a straight workman who is in my house for just a short while. There is a certain amount of poetic license in the poem, which I used to heighten the tension.

The poem is written in the present tense, so putting the fourth stanza in the future tense would be inconsistent. As for the "buts", there are only four of them in the poem, and I find "but" to be more direct and honest than "yet", which has a poetic quality that might sound pretentious to some readers.

Mirrorball, thanks for your comments. I don’t really agree with your characterization of the narrator. I see human beings as having both primal and civilized impulses, and I wrote the narrator’s voice (essentially my voice) to acknowledge his sinister side -- but he doesn’t, ultimately, act on his urges. If you could point to the lines that don’t ring true for you, that would help me.

For those who don’t know, the new forum software allows you to change your user name if you are unhappy with it. Nicola may choose to disable that feature, but so far has decided not to. Thus, I have changed my user name from PerryJ to just Perry. Also, you have a choice of forum styles that you can change to if you don’t like the bright blue, and you can also enlarge the text that you see in all the posts.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Mirrorball » Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:19 pm

That's a subtle name change Perry :)
Perry wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:37 pm
Mirrorball, thanks for your comments. I don’t really agree with your characterization of the narrator. I see human beings as having both primal and civilized impulses, and I wrote the narrator’s voice (essentially my voice) to acknowledge his sinister side -- but he doesn’t, ultimately, act on his urges. If you could point to the lines that don’t ring true for you, that would help me.
I nearly said don't take it personally in my lastly post then I reminded myself the poetry is projected self and there's only bits of us in it. I hope I didn't offend.

The lines that made me struggle to understand the narrator were:

a sometimes dangerous thing > this line comes very early in his self description which instantly puts me off his character. It's a bit one dimensional and I can't make the connection between love-starved homosexual and dangerous.

You do not see that I am a predator. > The narrator dehumanises himself. Could you show why he thinks he's a predator?

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Perry » Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:59 pm

Okay, let me get a little more personal.

I'm an intelligent person with a good understanding of psychology. When I was in my 20's (I am 68 now), I deftly manipulated myself into the pants of a young man (straight) who had come here from a middle-class family in Mexico. In my defense, I didn't know that he had psychological problems, and that he had been institutionalized in Mexico a couple times -- although he certainly gave me a hint when he vividly described the time when he almost successfully committed suicide. Well, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital in NYC, and I was directly responsible. That's why I put those words in the narrator's mouth.

Desperately horny people often ARE dangerous, and I'm the proof. That's why we have a Me Too movement now.

Your reactions to the narrator aren't enlightened (sorry to be blunt). A person with destructive impulses who SEES and ADMITS his dangerous side isn't someone who should put you off, he is someone that you should feel a little sympathy for (because he is being honest and trying to change). We have all been selfish and insensitive at times, whether we realize it or not, so everyone is contemptible in some way. Acknowledging our mistakes is how we grow, and a person who is trying to grow and improve is a person who should inspire compassion.

In many ways, I treated that Mexican man very well. When he told me of his suicide attempt, I was very sympathetic. But then I continued to try to manipulate him. Ultimately, I failed him because I was more focussed on my sexual desire than I was on what he needed (which was a friend in a strange country). In my mid-twenties, I was thinking only about myself, and I ended up hurting someone very badly.

So, the narrator isn't dehumanizing himself; he is simply being honest about who he is.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Mirrorball » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:26 am

That's quite some story Perry. Perhaps your judgement on the narrator/yourself is a little hard even if there's a gritty honesty there. I'd like to see more of the story bought out in the poem. I don't respond with much sympathy at the current revision.

I've just posted a poem in beginners. The woman who asked me to write it a few months ago slit her wrists last weekend and has been admitted to hospital. I can relate to what you're talking about although from a different angle. In my case I was pursued by a very determined young woman with a psychiatric illness and I didn't exactly discourage her.

My views regarding your poem are not meant to be enlightening; they're meant to be honest and I hope my reaction has as much value as anyone else's... even it's simply to say I'm part of your readership.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Perry » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:27 am

I got a little too intense (and possibly judgemental) in my answer. I'm sorry.

I'll consider the things you said about the poem.

I'll read your poem tomorrow, as right now I am going to bed.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Ravallion » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:59 pm

Spot on depiction of "emotional vampirism, we all are guilty from time-to- time. Western culture sexualizes everything .This is frank and honest work.

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Re: The Rug Man

Post by Perry » Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:27 am

Thank you, Ravallion! I was worried that the poem was a little too convoluted, but I guess it isn't.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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