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

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 Posted: Thu Oct 12th, 2006 06:19 pm
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timmy
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Mana: 
little children can
not, leaving instead
dirty handprints,
their outline
of breathing

lovers cannot,
leaving only perfume,
rumpled covers,
cold, half empty
glasses of scotch

grandparents can
not,  leaving portrait--
a black & white graduation,
son Joey killed in 1969—
DaNang--

framed, he looks

so clean

phone numbers
written in pencil:
scrawled, erased,
leaving october,

maybe

Jesus bleeds
on a crucifix
near the dining
room table,
leaving nails,

lilies on the table

kitchen light switch:
one porcelain plate
screw is missing

in the hallway, a mother’s
Valentine, little red hearts:
"be mine"

leaving a white birch,
planted in memory
of a loved one--

1998

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 Posted: Thu Oct 12th, 2006 11:32 pm
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leon
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Mana: 
can't comment, timmy.  it's way beyond my little brain.  like how little children can

not. 

 

and lovers cannot

are the scribbles what people wrote out, but died before achieving? hmm.

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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2006 01:21 am
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timmy
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Mana: 
You have a child (or maybe children), leon. every child will "can /
not" at least once or twice in their young lives....they may even say it to you at some point. I did. To my parents. No matter how I phrased it, they didn't understand what I was doing. I once wrote the longest letter to my Dad, trying to explain something. To him...it was "scribbles"....

lovers definitely "cannot" (although they're a bit like children...don't you think? but I did try and make it more of definitive statement by placing the word, complete, without the line break....

and "scribbles" don't have to be literal. Do they? We all "scribble" a bit. At one time or another. They might be what's "written" out for us....things we have no control over. Like the letter Joey's grandparents received, concerning his death in Viet Nam. Nicely typed. And a person's name only scribbled. I know they didn't understand it.

Many people consider the Bible just a bunch of "scribbles"....no meaning whatsoever. The blood. The lillies. What do they really mean if he was only a man?

...in another few years, no one will know how the birch tree got there.

Many things in our lives are just nothing more than "scribbles"....I see them on phone books, in bathrooms, on my students' desks, spray painted on buildings....they all mean something to someone. Just not always to the person who's looking at them at that point in time.

But, hey. Thanks for "not commenting." At least your "little brain" gave it a thought....and you scribbled something instead.

timmy

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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2006 12:39 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
timmy,

I get the feeling behind the poem.

But, I don't like the layout of this poem. It was confusing to me. And it did not have to be.

Punctuation marks, which are the road signs to meaning, as well as the layout in this poem, confuse here. Unnecessarily so, I believe.

The point to a poem (or any writing) is clarity; and the resulting mystery which exists beyond and also within that clarity, which will be as unique as each individual who reads the poem.

For example, when one asks for directions to travel someplace there are people who can give you the most roundabout, confusing, directions then you get lost trying to get there.

Then, you stop another guy along the way and ask for the same directions and he says, "Oh just go down here two blocks and take a left at the big tree. Go one block and it's right on the corner. Can't miss it." That is what format and punctuation are for... at least to me. It also is a clue to the reader as how to "perform" the poem out loud.

Playing around/
experim
enting with for
mat is one thing. But to
do it for any
reason other than
clarity has ne
ver ma
de sense to m
e.

(I know there are poets who VIO
LENTL
Y DIS
A
GREE WITH M
E.)

For instance is there any reason why you split "can not" into two separate lines? Why no period or some separating marker (a roadside stop!) after "breathing" and on down the line?

What is interesting though, in your format, whether intentional or not, is the stanza (but it is not really a stanza in the true senes of a stanza.)

lovers cannot,
leaving only perfume,
rumpled covers,
cold, half empty
glasses of scotch

Because of your formatting it could mean "rumpled covers cold"

or

cold half empty glasses of scotch.

Both are interesting choices if I were reading it out loud for interpretation. I am sure you meant the scotch, but it is a possibility it could be the covers.

I advise trying other formatting. It doesn't mean keeping everything on one line in any traditional sense. I just ask when I read a poem, "Why did the writer do it that way and for what reason? What is gained by that?"



I was working construction for a guy when I was a kid and he said to me. "You know I've never seen a fella work so hard and waste so much energy doing a job. For every job there is a proper tool. Go get a different shovel."
That is how I look upon using punctuation: It is a tool box. And our job as writers is finding and using the proper tools.

But, neat poem.It is not a confusing poem to me. Just the formatting was confusing.

I hope you are collecting them into a volume...or twenty!


in media res

Last edited on Fri Oct 13th, 2006 12:58 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2006 03:02 pm
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timmy
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Mana: 
"Both are interesting choices if I were reading it out loud for interpretation. I am sure you meant the scotch, but it is a possibility it could be the covers."

I've always felt that poetry has two interpretations: verbal & visual.  To the above observation I reply:  if I were reading the poem, the listener would know the correct interpretation.  But since I'm not there to either read or ask, it's up to the viewer to interpret.  You interpreted correctly.  It could go either way.  If one was a lover in a satisfying relationship, the drinks would be cold.  If one was a lover in an unsatisfying relationship, the covers would be cold.  If it's an extra-marital relationship, it might be either, depending on how the night went.

"For instance, is there any reason why you split "can not" into two separate lines?"

Yes.  I do it twice.  But not a third time.  Again, I did do it for a reason.  It obviously caused problems for Leon, but not you, since you got the feeling of the poem, but he did not.  He didn't understand it.  You just don't like it.  That's a difference in aesthetics, but not meaning.

The poem obviously has a "ton" of problems.  But it's like the short plays posted for comments & re-writes.  Your comments will help me in this process and I thank you and appreciate them immensely.

timmy    

 

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 Posted: Fri Oct 13th, 2006 07:41 pm
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scenedreamer
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Mana: 
I liked it.  I liked the unconstructed images that flash into the consicousness unfettered and uncontrolled.  I know poetry is always structured, but I like poems that give the appearance of hanging untethered mid air without resting on the structure of punctuation. 

Okay, that's just me, but I enjoyed reading it. 

sd

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