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  #1  
Unread 05-28-2019, 06:04 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Default More old Catholic bobbins...

This is an old one that I've tinkered with recently. Nobody out there in poetry-world seems interested in it, so I thought I'd experiment with this Deep End business...

Aunt Annie (Rev)

Those quiet Sundays, counting dust motes,
we knew to sit so still and wait.
In the kitchen she had fudge, Brazil nuts,
chocolate-covered cornflake cakes.

We glimpsed her through the door, a shadow,
and sat amongst her holy stuff:
lenticular Jesus shows then hides
His Sacred Heart, His perfect love;

Lourdes water in dusty bottles —
Virgin-shaped, to keep it pure.
We'd watch the dust cross narrow light —
our stomachs ready for the cure.


L11-12 were:

We'd sit and count the dust motes. Wait.
Our stomachs ready for the cure.

then

The dust motes danced in narrow light —
we sat and waited for our cure.
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  #2  
Unread 05-28-2019, 07:15 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Default The Chocolate Sublime

Which proves Sunday is indeed a holy day! The illness and its cure are clear from top to bottom, and the subtle rhyming is nicely done, sounds the restraint of this situation. The patient boys are overseen by a shifty give-and-take Jesus and bottled cure until the worldly cure: sweets! In a way, an exercise in “delayed gratification.” A countdown of the “dust” they are.

So, what'd you expect from a fully lapsed Catholic?!
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Last edited by RCL; 05-28-2019 at 07:21 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 05-29-2019, 01:49 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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I think there's a tense-wobble in the third stanza. It's all hanging in the moment but the moment is recollected and the tense is past. Then the lenticular Jesus does his thing in the present, the "now" of the "then".

I think He needs to have been doing it in the "then" of the "then" - more like:
Lenticular Jesus, showing, hiding/... etc.

I love the way that thought reflects (sorry) the children's "sitting so still" and ever so slightly gives the lie to it - they'd have to move just a little to see Him doing his thing. I enjoy the way the poem gives me permission to see it that way.

I enjoy, too, the way you have (slyly) suggested an unholy Eucharist.
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Unread 05-29-2019, 08:40 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Ralph – Fully lapsed, yes. Thanks for that crit, it reassures me the poem is still doing something of what I want it to. 'Shifty give-and-take Jesus': ha. Exactly.

Thanks Annie – Yes, I'm aware of the tense thing. I just don't know if 'hiding, showing' sounds as good. Maybe it does and I'm just used to what I've had for so long. I'll try out some variations there and try to sneak up on them by surprise. Glad you enjoyed it!

Cheers.

Edit: Oh btw, picking up on Ralph's 'the patient boys', this would actually be me and my sister, aged about 8 and 9 I suppose, respectively. But I realise there's nothing in the poem to suggest the gender, or indeed number, of children involved. I don't think that matters does it?
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Unread 05-29-2019, 09:33 AM
Jim Hayes Jim Hayes is offline
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I liked it a lot, itís very easy to relate to and thereís really nothing to take issue with. The Ďlenticular Jesus, is excellent and the image of the Sacred Heart, shifty and desirous of his Perfect Love works for me.
Counting dust motes is something Iím not so sure of, itís a nice rendition of ennui but itís not something you can do for more than a few seconds.
Itís somewhat irreverent but itís not offensive, Iíve been there and detect a little affection.
Jim
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Unread 05-30-2019, 08:48 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Jim,

Glad it works for you. Counting dust motes is strongly redolent of childhood to me, like trying to keep your eye on the path of a single snowflake. There is an affection for the trappings here, yes, despite my lack of belief. Glad that comes across. Cheers.
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Unread 05-30-2019, 12:18 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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This is good, Mark, and doesn't need any major changes. You might play around with formatting at the end. E.g., this is popping into my head:
We'd sit and count the dust motes. (Wait)
Our stomachs ready for the cure.
That makes "wait" like a command (from God?, from conscience?) more than an action. Maybe not what you want at all, but I kinda like it.

The gender of the kids definitely doesn't matter.
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Unread 05-30-2019, 12:40 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Mark

Ah, I remember those plastic Marys with the Lourdes water, (with a blue screw-top lid in the shape of crown?). I really like the lenticular Jesus, alternately giving and witholding love, and how it echoes like the Aunt's conditional love (sweet stuff if you behave).

The close doesn't quite seem to hit the mark, for me -- or I'm missing what's intended. I can see that the cure is a reference the Lourdes water, said to cure the sick. But I don't really see what it is the kids will be cured of. (Or that sitting still is wholly analogous to be sick). I guess maybe the sick at Lourdes sit around unmoving waiting around to be cured. When the kids eat the goodies will they come back to life, so to speak? Or will they have to go back to sitting quietly? Anyway, to me, it doesn't seem to quite come together.

I wondered if S3L3, might do something other than simply recapitulate the sitting and watching dust motes -- not something very different, just maybe just change it up very slightly.

I'm with Annie (Drysdale, not your aunt) on the tense issue in S2. It is a bit awkward. It did occur to me that you could adopt the present tense, which might even add something, a bit of immediacy maybe? We're there, rather than listening to the N reminiscence about being there. It seems straightforward to do:

A quiet Sunday, counting dust motes,
we know to sit so still and wait.
In the kitchen she has fudge, Brazil nuts,
chocolate-covered cornflake cakes.

We glimpse her through the door, a shadow,
and sit among her holy stuff:
lenticular Jesus shows then hides
His Sacred Heart, His perfect love;

Lourdes water in dusty bottles —
Virgin-shaped, to keep it pure.
We sit and count the dust motes. Wait.
Our stomachs ready for the cure.

Though as is it loses the explicit information that this happens on more than one occasion ("on quiet Sundays", plural), though that seems implicit in "we know". Or you could start with "Another Sunday, counting", since sitting still and counting dustmotes does a lot to suggest quiet.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-30-2019 at 12:54 PM.
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Unread 05-30-2019, 03:10 PM
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter is offline
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No problem here with the tenses, but I agree with Aaron about reformating the last two lines. The period after "dust motes," followed by a verb "wait" that is naturally in parallel with "sit and count" is unnecessarily choppy, as is the uncharacteristic sentence fragment at the end. Dickinson-like dashes would make sense, but you would probably prefer a different solution, for example:

We sit and count the dust motes, wait,
our stomachs ready for the cure.
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Unread 06-01-2019, 04:27 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Aaron - glad it's working for you. I've done a little tinkering with the close.

Hi Matt - I'm not convinced that the change in tense is a problem. I see it as the memory becoming suddenly more vivid and 'present' as the N remembers the image of the Jesus picture. I don't think I want the whole thing in present tense, as I do want it to have the atmosphere of a memory: dusty, sepia.

I've tinkered with the close. I'm afraid the nature of the 'cure' might be even less explicit now, as I've got rid of 'stomachs'. I hope its implicit enough though that the cure is for hunger/boredom/inarticulate childhood ennui. But I'm happy for it to be something with some degree of mystery to it. I like the contrast I have now between the dust motes 'dancing' and the children 'sitting', and that the space for dancing is a narrow one.

Thanks for reading. Glad you like lenticular Jesus. He loves you!

Hi Bill - Thanks for reading. I've had a little play with the ending. I'm not averse to a Dickinson dash.

Cheers folks.
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