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  #1  
Unread 02-03-2020, 03:07 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Default Smash and Grab

wheat text

Smash and Grab (rev)

I remember pebbles on the drive
like birds' eggs, shiny, clean and white.
A porch with frosted glass, and five
wee cacti of descending height.

Huddled, we crouched around the door,
hushed in the dark on Primrose Way.
Kev in those dungarees he wore
for rabbiting and mild affray.

We wrapped the spanner in the rag,
then crack and reach-around and in.
I wiped my boots, John lit a fag,
the room was warm like a biscuit tin.

I don't remember what we took —
a carriage clock, I think, then ran.
I remember Billy's face though, struck
with wonder, rare for any man.




S4 was

I don't remember what we took —
a carriage clock, I think. Then fright.
I remember Billy's face though, struck
with wonder like he'd seen the light





Reversed S1 and 2
changed (new)S2L1

changed S4L2,3 and 4





Knock Knock

There were three of us, or maybe four,
hushed in the dark round Primrose Way.
Kev in those dungarees he wore
for rabbiting, and mild affray.

I remember pebbles on the drive
like birds' eggs, shiny, clean and white.
A porch with frosted glass, and five
wee cacti of descending height.

We wrapped the spanner in the rag,
then crack and reach-around and in.
I wiped my boots, John lit a fag,
the room was warm like a biscuit tin.

I don't remember what we took —
a carriage clock, I think, then ran.
I remember Billy's face, his look
of wonder, rare for any man.
wheat text wheat text wheat text wheat text wheat text wheat text wheat text wheat text wheat text.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 02-11-2020 at 05:45 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-03-2020, 04:16 PM
Jayne Osborn's Avatar
Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Wow, Mark, is this a true story? ...you little devil, if it is!

I love "Smash and Grab" as a title, and also the images of pebbles like birds eggs, shiny, clean and white, and the room being warm like a biscuit tin.

A couple of small nits: wee cacti of descending height

The ''wee'' seems out of place with the rest of the diction, and as it means ''small", then "of descending height" just tells us that the plants were small to begin with, and then got smaller still. I think you can improve on that, especially as ''wee" is so closely followed with "We".

My other nit was the last four words: rare for any man

Up to the end of the poem it appears that you, Kev, Billy and possibly one other mate were just kids, or teens - but definitely not men. It was a naughty prank rather than a huge robbery or heist, if all you took was a carriage clock (you think), and afterwards you all legged it!

The whole vagueness of the N's memory of the event is delightful. He (you?) remember only certain aspects of it all these years later. It was bad behaviour, but the story comes across as just a harmless recounting of a fairly minor incident; no real harm was done.

I enjoyed it very much, Mark.

Jayne
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  #3  
Unread 02-03-2020, 04:25 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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I could mainly follow this, but had trouble with a few details. When you say "There were three of us, or maybe four," it leaves me in some doubt about who Billy was. If you can remember the names of three of them, plus the speaker, doesn't that make it clearly four? Or is Billy not on this expedition? The other main question is about the age of the participants. I was assuming teens, and probably youngish, so if Billy is referred to as a man, are they all adults? Do you need the comma in S1L4? I love the name Primrose Way, as it calls to mind the primrose path to destruction.

Susan
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  #4  
Unread 02-03-2020, 06:23 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Somehow it seems to have been sudsed away in the available Wikipedia articles, but when I was doing my post-grad studies in human psychology, people discussed a theory that I like very much that explained thus kind of thing by a kind of “diffusion or weakening of the individual egos” in a crowd that allowed them to do things they wouldn’t do as individuals. It made sense then to me and it still does. All sorts of factors are involved: daring, shame among peers, social pressure, the lead being taken by the most troubled individual without anyone daring to resist. I thought of it as the stupidity of crowds. Now we have a poem explaining the confusion and thrill of this kind of action. And a good poem too. Transgressive behavior. That’s supposed to be valorized today? Arrgh. Nice poem though. Naughty thrills. Francois Villon? Interesting poem.
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  #5  
Unread 02-03-2020, 07:35 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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I like it, but it seems kind of first drafty. As Susan said, "maybe four" is unclear. First line could be stronger in any case. Agree with Jayne that "Smash and Grab" is a great title, also the pebbles, the tin. Unlike Jayne, the "wee cacti of descending height" is one of my favorite parts.
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  #6  
Unread 02-03-2020, 07:35 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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I like this, Mark. The snatches of memory about this scene and the way it unfolds. I would like to know why Billy is called a man. I also question “wee.” I like what Allen said about group behavior.

Martin
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  #7  
Unread 02-04-2020, 02:06 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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I read "wee" as "twee" and had to go back to see what others were talking about. I know those cacti and the sort of house they typify.

And I think I know what those boys felt to find themsleves in a house that was warm when nobody was home. Privilege, innit. N wipes his boots on the (implied) nice carpet, John lights a fag to spoil the alien air. It would be a step too far for one of them to shit on the sofa but I feel the threat of it.

It was obviously a pre-planned offence; they were going equipped, as the charge sheet would've read if they'd been caught. "The" spanner and "the" rag were ready to be deployed. The technique of entry is well-rehearsed.

I am feeling Smash and Grab as the title, rather than "Knock Knock", which I can't quite relate to. Or perhaps Break and Enter?

I, too, am confused by Billy.... (more thinking needed...)
.

Last edited by Ann Drysdale; 02-04-2020 at 04:07 AM.
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  #8  
Unread 02-04-2020, 06:57 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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I like the way the poem ends on someone else's reaction, leaving the speaker's feeling about the incident implied.

My questions others have already asked: how old these four are and Billy's connection.

The three-or-four thing also works against the specificity which is otherwise working well to, among other things, show that this was important enough to the speaker to remember. Maybe the speaker is affecting nonchalance. He knows (as he'll soon, without realizing it, admit) exactly how many guys were with him, but wants to appear as though the whole thing didn't mean enough to remember well. I like the poem much better now that this possibility has occurred to me, though I'm pretty sure it would never have occurred to me if I'd met the poem anywhere but in a workshop.

The "man" thing might similarly be a false claim of adulthood for the speaker his pals, though this works less well for me, confusing the question of when the incident is being recalled and to whom.

This strikes me as strong and worth working on.
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  #9  
Unread 02-04-2020, 07:22 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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I find the age issue clear, as well as the closing line. Of course they were boys, trying to act boldly like men. The boyish wonder on Billy's face undermines his boastful thieves manhood.

And I like wee cacti of descending height.

I blanche at the word affray, just a bit. It seems out of voice, but it might be a British thing.

Nemo

Last edited by R. Nemo Hill; 02-04-2020 at 09:35 AM.
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  #10  
Unread 02-04-2020, 08:21 AM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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I like this, Mark. The only two places that trouble me are when S claims not to remember clearly what he obviously does remember clearly. Both could be easily fixed:

There were three of them, so I made four

and

I still remember what we took
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