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  #21  
Unread 05-24-2020, 04:04 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Thanks Ed and Julie,

Ed,

I'd thought the association with the Nazis persecution and extermination of those unable to work ("useless eaters") would be strong enough that idea of "sewn to my chest" would automatically be read as a badge (like the black triangle or Star of David).

Can I ask you the same question I asked Julie: did you make the association between useless eaters and the Nazis?

(Julie if you're still reading I'd still be interested to know the same from you).

Do you think if I changed the location from "chest" to "sleeve" (or somewhere else more indicative of clothing) it would be clearer that it was a badge and not an actual walking stick?

I may well lose a couple of the shers before I'm done. Quite possibly the two I added since I posted it ("The poem fails" and "Chronic, from Khronos").

You're suggesting losing a couple of the funnier ones. Did you have any in particular in mind.

Thanks again both,

Matt
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  #22  
Unread 05-24-2020, 04:46 PM
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Ed Shacklee Ed Shacklee is offline
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Matt,

I didn't make the association between "useless eaters" and Nazis; although I knew that millions died and all kinds of people were targeted, apparently that "justification" didn't stick in my head. I'd certainly understand someone being horrified enough by the idea for that phrase to conjure associated images, but for whatever reason that was not the case with me -- and if that doesn't happen, I think the sher falls apart, mostly.

It would be interesting to poll readers about that, however, as it may be that many readers are more well read and got it instantly.

Since you ask which shers I would think about lopping off for the reason stated above, these are the ones that, through no other fault of their own, would come into my sights -- the 'useless eater' sher being among them because I perhaps self-centeredly suspect that a significant number of folks wouldn't get it, either (their loss, as mine, but. . .):

A useless eater, I collect my cheques.
Sewn to my chest, the walking stick of sickness.

Required to prove my uselessness again,
I take the stage, turn tumbling tricks of sickness.

Why stumble through the stony wastes of work?
My life has perks. I think I’ll stick with sickness.

Even if you decide to lop one or more off, however, others may make more sense to you than these tentative picks.

Best,

Ed

P.S. I don't think changing the location of the walking stick without calling it a badge would've removed the scales from my eyes on its own, btw.

Last edited by Ed Shacklee; 05-24-2020 at 04:50 PM.
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  #23  
Unread 05-24-2020, 06:05 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Thanks for coming back, Ed

That's very useful feedback. Yes, I'd also like to know how many people recognised the phrase "useless eaters" and how many realised that I'd intended what was sewn onto the N's chest was a badge and not an actual walking stick.

I guess the history of the mentally ill and disabled people under the Nazis isn't as well known as it could (and arguably should) be. The Nazis had a lot of propaganda around the cost to the state supporting people who couldn't work and making comparisons with decent folk who worked hard for their money (some things haven't changed all that much!). They started an enforced sterilisation program in 1933 and started killing in 1939, murdering an estimated 250,000 people, and in the process developing the technology that was later applied on an industrial scale in concentration camps.

best,

-Matt
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  #24  
Unread 05-24-2020, 07:05 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Matt, I caught the Nazi associations of "useless eater" for a millisecond, but I'm so hopelessly literal that when the narrator said that a walking stick was sewn to his chest, I was picturing that squicky scene from Manon des sources (the sequel to Jean de Flourette), when the guy who is obsessed with Manon painfully sews her hair ribbon into the skin over his heart. That distressing image immediately upstaged the Nazis, and I gave them no more thought.
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  #25  
Unread 05-25-2020, 09:24 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hey Matt,

I'm back. I don't know if I'd heard 'useless eaters' before, specifically, but I got a definite 'Nazi vibe' from it. I got what you were aiming for. I've been thinking about this poem a lot. I argued before that the poem was repetitive and had one main point to make. I think if it were drastically shortened and just stuck to this key point, that the speaker's sickness is looked on with suspicion by society and particularly by those responsible for disability benefits, it would work much better for me. Whether it would be ghazal-worthy I'll leave to the more knowledgeable, but it would be a powerfully angry poem. I think the least successful and interesting shers, for me, are the ones where the speaker describes the sickness. Interestingly, I'm suggesting keeping the ones that Ed suggests cutting and maybe just one (Eight years of brain fog...) that describes the condition. Something like :

Think what you like, I didnít pick this sickness.
It sought me out. Itís such a dick, this sickness.

A useless eater, I collect my cheques.
Sewn to my chest, the walking stick of sickness.

Required to prove my uselessness again,
I take the stage, turn tumbling tricks of sickness.

Iím choosing this? I could just think it gone?
Youíve rumbled me. I get a kick from sickness.

Why stumble through the stony wastes of work?
My life has perks. I think Iíll stick with sickness.

Eight years of brain-fog, nausea, fatigue.
Eventually, you do got sick of sickness.

You ask me: canít I leave it at the door?
I wipe my feet. The mat grows thick with sickness.
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