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  #1  
Unread 08-28-2019, 07:09 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Default Touching

Rev 1

Touching


Although his mother rarely touched
her infant son or kissed his face,
he didn’t feel deprived of grace.
While in his teens, he often touched
himself, and that became a crutch.
He’d mime her hands, touch his face,
hug himself and pray for grace,
a seeker crippled by his crutch.

But kissing girls, like mainlined dope,
made fixes of when he kissed and clutched.
For years, while carelessly obsessed,
promiscuous, he harbored hope
to feel caresses he had missed.
Aging, he remained untouched.

L13: caresses for touches
L4: While for But
L14: Aging for But


Touching

Although his mother rarely touched
her son with love or kissed his face,
Ray didn’t feel deprived of grace.
But as a teen, he often touched
himself, and that became a crutch.
He’d mime her hands, touch his face,
hug himself and pray for grace,
a confused seeker on his crutch.

But kissing girls, like mainlined dope,
made fixes of kisses from those he clutched.
For years, while carelessly obsessed,
promiscuous, he harbored hope
to feel the touches he had missed.
But aging Ray remained untouched.


Adjusted punctuation at Julie’s suggestion.

L6-7 were:
He’d mime her hand and touch his face
and body. Ray would pray for grace,
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Last edited by RCL; 09-03-2019 at 11:14 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 08-28-2019, 10:37 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Hey, Ralph!

I suspect that many readers will be uncomfortable with, or even revolted by, the juxtaposition of a fantasy of a mother's touch with the eroticism of masturbation. But I admire the way that the octave's identity rhymes reinforce the idea that these two types of touching are not completely different for the protagonist.

I would suggest putting a full stop at the end of L3 and starting a new sentence at L4: "Ray didn't feel deprived of grace. / But as a teen, he often touched". And perhaps end L13 with a period, too, and leave L14 as a standalone.

Not sure yet what I think of the metrical variation in L10. The extra syllables of the anapests certainly make those kisses seem more numerous, though.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 08-28-2019 at 10:43 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 08-28-2019, 11:29 PM
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Julie, thanks for the suggestions, several of which are familiar, considering the many many many many rewrites of every line. Yeah, I like the numeric, almost obsessive, speed of L10. I’ve been rereading E.A, Robinson recently. He pushes the limits in some of his portraits, which might have influenced me. I don’t suppose Freudians would lose any sleep over this one.

added: Decided to slant it a bit in lines 6-7.
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Last edited by RCL; 08-28-2019 at 11:47 PM.
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  #4  
Unread 08-29-2019, 12:42 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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The link startled me, but didn't really bother me. I like the title too.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 08-29-2019, 04:18 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Interesting rhyme pattern in the octave, and I donít mind the juxtaposition. Masturbation and neediness are in fact close together.

For lines 3-4

Ray didnít feel deprived of grace.
But as a teen, he often touched

I donít quite get the logic. How wouldnít he feel deprived of grace, missing that affection? And even if he didnít, what does ďButĒ mean there? That even though he didnít feel deprived he still was obsessively masturbatory? Hard to follow, for me.

The line Julie mention, imo, would be stronger and more forceful as regular iambic, e.g.,

made fixes when he kissed and clutched.
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Unread 08-29-2019, 05:03 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Ralph,

I like the premise here. Lack of maternal affection drives him first to masturbation and then to promiscuous sex (and possibly drugs?) as he seeks to fill the void, but ultimately this doesn't satisfy.

Is there any reason we need to know his name? Is there some wordplay on "Ray". I think it'd works better with 'he' throughout. Now, if you'd called him 'Dick' ...

I'm wondering it the word 'touch' is a little overused, and I'm thinking only of where it appears inline, not as a rhyme-word. I think the identity rhymes themselves are effective.

My reading S1L6-8, is that he imagines his mother comforting him after he's masturbated, when he feels guilty and prays for grace, as opposed to during masturbation. If so, that might be made clearer somehow. For example.

Then mimed her hands against his face,

Which would show that it happened afterwards, and removes the word 'touch'.

But kissing girls, like mainlined dope,
made fixes of kisses from those he clutched.


I'm wondering if he also turns to drugs to fill his void, but maybe it's just a comparison? I think the sense of this sentence is off: Kissing girls makes fixes of kisses from those he clutched in the same way that mainlining dope makes fixes of those kisses? That's what it seems to say. But does mainlining dope make those kisses into fixes too? I guess, maybe if he combines the drug-taking and kissing. And how does 'kissing girls' make the kisses into fixes, the causality seems wrong here. Finally, L1 tells us that kissing girls was like a drug fix, and then "made fixes of kisses" tells us the same thing. Maybe the repetition could be reduced: at least the repetition of 'kiss'/'kissing'? Anyway, I'd look to reword these lines.

One suggestion: L2 could be:

each kiss a fix from those he clutched

possibly bringing more strongly the double meaning of fix (to repair). Obviously, you'd need to 'fix' L1 too, to make this work.

The closing line, it seems to me is weakened -- if only sonically -- by the word 'touch' also appearing in the line before it. Is 'remains' better that 'remained', given that he's 'aging'?

Finally, you've used the c-word. Since people tend to a lot more informed on other forms of slur (e.g. relating to race, gender, sexuality), I thought I'd flag up that the word 'cripple' is one people with disabilities are often not fond of -- or that some have reclaimed, in the way 'nigger' or 'queer' have been reclaimed, (hence e.g. 'crip poetry'). Anyhow, 'cripple' seems somewhat superfluous here, given the fact he that has a crutch. You might look for something else that's less redundant. So maybe: "Confused, [something] became his crutch." -- "Confused, his crotch became his crutch"? (OK, that's not a wholly serious suggestion!).

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 08-29-2019 at 10:51 AM.
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  #7  
Unread 08-29-2019, 05:15 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Dylan has the great line on Blonde on Blonde, "I never asked for your crutch, now don't ask for mine." I do think the pun is available for a reader.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 08-29-2019, 11:29 AM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Julie and gentlemen, my apologies for the misleading L2, which should have included the word “infant.” I’ve changed that line and made some other adjustments as you’ve suggested. Mea Culpa!


These were written before I saw the error:

John,
Thanks for reading. Glad the connection, though surprising, didn’t offend. I also like the title! And thanks for the later post citing Dylan.

Andrew,
I hear your question about the logic of “didn’t” feel deprive. It might be closer to what I meant to say “couldn’t”—because he was an infant. I’ll look at that line again and thank you for the nudge (made fixes when he kissed and clutched).

Yikes! I just noticed, I’d left out the revised line with “infant” in it.

Matt,
You offer me much to work on! Thanks. The name is sort of an “imaginary friend” ID in a group of verses in progress. But “he” might have a broader appeal in a stand-alone.

Full disclosure: I did not mean to imply masturbation with mom in mind, which is why I revised to “hugging himself” from “touching” his body. In all versions except this one, the first word was “Unhugged,” to be echoed by the last word, “untouched.” But I don’t mind the muse’s implication. Yes, “crotch” occurred to me. I laughed, but figured it was a “trope too far.”

I like this fix you suggest: made fixes of kisses from those he clutched. The drug reference is only an analogy. I’m reconsidering the frequency of “touch” throughout.

The possible insult of “cripple” didn’t occur to me, and now it does.
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Last edited by RCL; 08-29-2019 at 11:32 AM.
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  #9  
Unread 08-29-2019, 12:08 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Yes, "infant" helps a lot.

Taking the mother out of L6 completely--"Afterwards, he'd hide his face" or something--would reduce any suggestion of incest fantasies, while still allowing a connection to be made between his early lack of physical affection and later attempts to compensate. Not sure if that's what you want to do, but the option exists.

I've noted the "Ray" name in several of your poems, and although I understand that he's a sort of alter ego character (like Joyce's Stephen Dedalus), with a story that continues from one poem to another, I wonder if having his name appear in each poem in a series is really necessary. A continuous narrative is implied simply by having the poems appear together, isn't it? And if you're presenting each component poem individually, there are certain advantages to making them less specific to "Ray." Something to think about.
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Unread 08-30-2019, 03:32 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Julie, I see what you mean. For the moment, I like the echo of mom as vaguely suggestive.
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