From This to That

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Perry
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From This to That

Post by Perry » Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:49 pm

For twenty years my mother brought her lunch
to work in Rubbermaid trays she would pop
into the lunch-room microwave. Somehow
I was lucky enough to inherit one,

scars still on the plastic where the food boiled. [replaced "now forty years old but still looking fresh"]
I think of her, competent, industrious,
the plant lady who kept the office in
green splendor — though before she died she could

not keep a single plant alive, not even
the dwarf Christmas tree my brother sent year
after futile year. Day after day she
would over-water it, and it would die,

brown and parched as if thirsting for a drink.
She was the practical one. I trafficked in
dreams, ideals, pie in the sky concepts
that slid down the drain like tepid waste water.

She accepted the world on its ugly terms.
I couldn’t hold a job for even a year. I thought,
if this is the best humanity can do,
we owe it to resist, to disapprove.

Her plastic container now sits on my desk,
the perfect size to hold my glucose test kit.

-end-

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say in this poem. Nor am I sure of the ending or the title. "Repurposing" is a possible title.

I think this is one of the first poems I've written in which I wasn't thinking in strictly linear terms.

I have critiqued one poem this time around, and I'm aware I should critique more, which I'll do. This poem broke a three-month dry streak.
Last edited by Perry on Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:32 am, edited 9 times in total.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

Macavity
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Re: From This to That

Post by Macavity » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:08 am

Enjoyed this Perry. The mother son relationships, the contrasts in life approaches, grounded this honest poem and drew me into those relationships. Not sure about the title, perhaps 'Health'...the poem made me think of physical/mental health in how we lead our lives, how we get stuck in our ways, the difficulty of translating our love for each other, the difficulties of accepting each other.

Perry wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:49 pm
For twenty years my mother brought her lunch...love the opening details of routine and convenience
to work in Rubbermaid trays she would pop
into the lunch-room microwave. Somehow
I was lucky enough to inherit one,

now forty years old but still looking fresh.......................'at forty years...'
I think of her, competent, industrious,
the plant lady who kept the company
in green splendor — though before she died she could

not keep a single plant alive, not even
the dwarf Christmas tree my brother sent year..............like how the brother mirrors the repetitive, mechanical behaviours
after futile year. Day after day she
would over-water it, and it would die,

brown and parched as if thirsting for a drink....parallels the need for more connection
She was the practical one. I trafficked in
dreams, ideals, pie in the sky, concepts
that slid down the drain like tepid waste water.

She accepted the world on its ugly terms.
I couldn’t hold a job for even a year. I thought,
if this is the best humanity can do,
we should feel discontent, we should disapprove.

Her plastic container now sits on my desk,
the perfect size to hold my glucose test kit....excellent ending, a practical rememberance that connects to the mother's mindset.

-end-


hope the feedback helps

cheers

mac

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Perry
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Re: From This to That

Post by Perry » Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:40 am

Mac, you've certainly made me feel good -- thank you. I wasn't even sure what I was trying to accomplish in the poem -- just bits and bobs from our lives that seemed to somehow be related to each other, contrasting our characters.

It was that old plastic tray sitting on my desk that inspired the poem. I grab it two or three times a day to test my blood sugar, and I never forget what my mother used it for. My mother went from remarkable to stupid because of her dementia, and that is always on my mind -- not because I'm worried about getting it (I doubt I will unless I live to 90), but because it was sad to see her sharp mind fade. She never dealt with her emotional issues, but she knew how to deal with the world. In contrast, I was always dreaming.

For me, one of the meanings of the poem is that no matter who or what we are, it is all erased by time, decline and death. Her twenty years at the American Mathematical Society ended up as an artifact on my desk, and who knows where my artifacts will end up.

Thank you again,

Perry
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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lotus
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Re: From This to That

Post by lotus » Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:10 pm

Her plastic container now sits on my desk

dear Perry
i found the p0em intriguing
and this particular line
at first made me think somehow of an urn

i'll return for another read

a warm smile
silent lotus
“A poem should have the touch ... the way sunlight falls on Braille.” .......silent lotus

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Perry
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Re: From This to That

Post by Perry » Sat Jul 04, 2020 10:41 pm

Lotus, thank you for your comment.

I've been focussing on other things for the last couple weeks, but I'm back now.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: From This to That

Post by springchic1979 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:43 pm

I like how such an item that most people would never think of as significant can bring back a memory for you. A lot of people would just see an old plastic container on a desk. Makes me wonder what other stories are behind other seemingly unimportant items. . . hmm

Very interesting idea and thank you for sharing it!

respectfully,
YDS

TrevorConway
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Re: From This to That

Post by TrevorConway » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:51 am

Hi Perry,

I don't think this poem needs to "say" anything in particular. It's a well-made character sketch, in my opinion. Some specifics below.

All the best,

T

For twenty years my mother brought her lunch
to work in Rubbermaid trays she would pop
into the lunch-room microwave. Somehow
I was lucky enough to inherit one,

now forty years old but still looking fresh.
I think of her, competent, industrious,
the plant lady who kept the office in [Put "in" at start of next line? "The plant lady" doesn't work for me]
green splendor — though before she died she could [End this line on "died", next verse/line beginning with "couldn't keep..."]

not keep a single plant alive, not even ["not even" on next line]
the dwarf Christmas tree my brother sent year [Not crazy about teh years and days bits. Any better alternative here? Avoid referring to time?]
after futile year. Day after day she
would over-water it, and it would die,

brown and parched as if thirsting for a drink. ["for a drink" not needed]
She was the practical one. I trafficked in ["in" on next line]
dreams, ideals, [replace "pie in the sky concepts"]
that slid down the drain like tepid waste water. [Nice image]

[Then, I'd suggest combining the last 2 verses and making some deletions for a smoother finish - see below]

She accepted the world on its ugly terms. [or "accepted the world's ugly terms" maybe?]
I couldn’t hold a job for even a year. I thought, [Delete "I thought"]
Her plastic container now sits on my desk, [Delete "now"]
the perfect size to hold my glucose test kit. ["the perfect size for my glucose test kit"]

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Perry
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Re: From This to That

Post by Perry » Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:49 pm

Hi, guys. I've been away for a while and didn't notice that some comments came in.

SpringChic, thanks for your comments. Objects often have interesting stories behind them.

Trevor, thank you for your comments. The reasons for line breaks in my poems often have to do with the meter. The meter I write in is loose, so you may not have recognized it. For example,

I think of her, competent, industrious,
the plant lady who kept the office in

The second line ends on "in" because it takes a stress, and in meter with alternating stresses, poets usually like to end lines on a stressed syllable.

In this line -- "not keep a single plant alive, not even" -- "not even" is on that line to fill out the meter.

I'll consider all your comments, although I do consider the poem mostly finished. I appreciate the attention you gave the poem.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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