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The Playwrights Forum > The Art & Craft of Writing > Poet's Corner : Critique my Poem > Poem

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 Posted: Fri Jun 23rd, 2006 04:17 am
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kal
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Mana: 
                     DECEMBER 7, 1941

 

       I was six, going on seven, when early one latesummer

       evening, autumn's chill insinuating itself,

       Grandma and I walked along Newark's Belmont Avenue,

       a large empty lot to our left.

 

       There on the horizon was a red moon-- the size of

       a Jersey tomato six inches from your nose--as big and

       gory a moon as I'd ever seen, and have since.

 

       "That means war. Red moon means war," Grandma said,

       tightening the kerchief 'round her yellowing white hair.

       She quickened her step, scuttering along in her

       blue wool sweater on bandaged, vein-bumpy legs,

       looking every inch the Bessarabian peasant she was.

 

       That winter, we were eating supper at Aunt Lucille's

       when in burst Uncle Sam from work, his plump face a

       circle of concern. "The Japs attacked Pearl Harbor!"

 

       Lucille took Sam's food off the stove. 

       I kept scooping at my chocolate pudding.

       Grandma, who was dipping a puff of seeded roll

       into her weak coffee, made a windsucking sound

       with her gums, and darted a look at me

       over her eyeglasses.

 

                                    --Kal Wagenheim

 

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 Posted: Fri Jun 23rd, 2006 04:58 pm
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Edd
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Mana: 
I know less than nothing about poetry, but I do know a small bit about prose.  As prose, that was some interesting and lovely writing. 

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 Posted: Fri Jun 23rd, 2006 07:21 pm
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kal
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Mana: 
Many thanks for your comment.  The original meaning of the word "poem" (I think it was "poiema" in Greek) means "a created thing."  No other rules!  This particular poem, based on a true event, brings back fond memories of my grandma (actually she was my great-grandma!), Ida Hoffman, who came to USA in 1890 from Bessarabia (now known as Moldova). 

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 Posted: Sat Jun 24th, 2006 01:06 pm
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bmcp
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Mana: 
Kal,

I read this the other day and thought it very good.  I reread your poem today and thought it better.  The Jersey tomato is such a vivid picture - and the ending with 'over her eyeglasses' goes to show (ha) what we usually try to tell.

My grandmother died last year at 104 years of age.  She left her home for assisted living at 102.  The stories.  My dad served in WWII and when he died (1990), my grandmother pulled out a letter he wrote her in 1945.  Six pages. 

Poetry, to me, is putting down in words thoughts, emotions, and events you want to keep close. 

Thanks for sharing.

betty

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 Posted: Sat Jun 24th, 2006 02:17 pm
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kal
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Mana: 
Thanks for your comments, Betty. I have such fond memories of my great-grandma, who died at age 92 (when I was 25) and helped to raise me (my mom died, age 22,  when I was just 2). In fact, she figures as a character in a couple of my one-acts.

Sounds as though you have plenty of material about your grandma for creative works!

Best wishes, Kal

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 Posted: Fri Jun 30th, 2006 05:57 am
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blackjohnnie
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Mana: 
Hey Kal,

Vivid images. I think the interesting challenge in this poem, if you were inclined to write another draft, would be to eliminate the setting of your age and let us experience that day soley through your perspective...

you kinda already do that but it could be evoked by employing the images like the noticing the vericose veins on your grandmother's legs and looking at you over her spectacles...a few more of those 3 foot seven inch perspectives and the poem might flourish with the tension between the chaos of the adult world and the "I don't know anything is wrong until I hurt" world of a child...or at least, maybe I'm thinking of specific age or tipping my hat about mine.

Good poem. Not sure about the title, though. Too, on the nose.

 

john.

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 Posted: Fri Jun 30th, 2006 02:51 pm
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kal
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Mana: 
Concerning "on the nose" title, I gave the title much thought and like the one I chose, as do most readers. But I am always open to suggestions!   Kal

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 Posted: Fri Jun 30th, 2006 04:53 pm
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timmy
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Mana: 
"...a created thing. No other rules"

Kal: i like that. simple and direct. Setting aside the industry's printed format rules, i suppose playwriting follows the same rules. (and like a play, some people like, some people don't....any work of art, i suppose. that's really what i talk to my kids about. not having to like, but recognizing the talent it takes to create and respecting it.

what i've found on my poetry boards are people who get all caught up in following rhyme scheme, meter listing, or whatever, that it detracts from what they really want to say.

about your poem. i remember you posting this back in the old world/dark ages. (the image of grandma, with her gums "windsucking" and "darting" a look at you over her glasses is worth the whole read. what separates the child from the all-knowing wisdom of age. a perfect poem, not about war at all....it's just wonderful.

timmy

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