Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Child Knife


The Child Knife


For twenty years
I had the care of it--
the blade I  loved--
to sharpen
to keep safe,
a dazzle in my eye
but in twenty years
of slice and shine,
I never guessed
it wasn't mine.

~April 2014



This is a 37-word, revised and rather different version of the poem below, 
for Mama Zen's Words Count




~*~

20 Years Among The Blind

For twenty years
I had the care of it
to love, to shape
to keep it safe, to hold it close
but let it fly, gleaming steel
to lightly touch
 but not too much
a beauty glaring blind my eye,
a deafness living in my ear.

If  I'd spoken less I might have heard
you laughing out your stainless whisper'd word,
 your scream--but silenc,
like any gift I get,
comes late, dawdling in
at the end of the dream;
in twenty years both deaf and blind, 
I saw only shine, felt silver life
and never knew I'd made a knife.

~March 2014







Image :Nourrice assise, tenant son poupon, Georges Seurat, 
Public domain via wikipaintings.org
 

19 comments:

  1. Love your interpretation... Holding on to that which is not ours, grasping so tightly our knuckles hurt... but when we release, that first breath is a dawn of freedom.

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  2. Your redacted poem was so punchy - a roundhouse sweep of fist to gut with the last lines.

    The full length poem explores the theme in more detail, and although I like the slightly different ending, I would say the parameters of word count produced a fine piece of poetry.

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  3. the short one is def different and has a different feel...i think the longer one gives more of a sense of context...condensing though does have the affects of immediacy...

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  4. 'Child Knife" is a really good recasting of "20 Years Among the Blind," a silver bullet instead of a shotgun blast. But it reads more like epitaph or epigraph for a something requiring the heft and elbow room delivered in the second poem. The mother's guilt in both is really incredible, deftly articulating what one is responsible for in the duration of child rearing (I'm guessing that's the "20 years), though what became of that--the knife--only the adult child can own up to. Some devastating uses of rhyme and meter to deliver the goods. The last 4 lines of both stanzas are scary good. "Only women bleed," sang Alice Cooper, and, perhaps, only mothers truly grieve. Seamless truths here. I wonder if the child's real and only kindness is to forgive. Lord knows we've all failed our mamas ...

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    1. Thanks, B. Yes, waiting for forgiveness is all you can do, (and bringing your own, if you can.) You touch on everything I was exploring here, Brendan, grief, the 20/20 of hindsight, the heaviest, crippling and most dragging weight (failure,) and I agree--the shorter poem is far more of an epitaph, almost facile, but writing it was clarifying, and made me go into the original and hammer it out on the hellish word anvil a bit longer, thinner and more refined than I'd had it, so it was a worthwhile effort. Thanks, as always for your intuitive and insightful reading.

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  5. Both poems are terrific--for me the Child Knife is more compelling; for me, I "get" it right away so the extra explanations of the other poem, although beautifully rendered, muddy it more--the "I" and "you" and the element of specific relationship is for me less powerful than the vision of something that happens to children through a multiplicity of circumstances. I would write more, but you know I am very hectic this next few weeks - both because of the poetry, and more because of job intensity, so can't right now. Wonderful poems. I will give you credit for two days, even if other is old one. K. (Ha.)

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    1. Thanks, k. Yes, I know how hectic things are for you. The longer poem is indeed more convoluted--a lot of it is fresh rewrite--what you would call a 'draft poem,' possibly. ;_) I'm bothered atm by things not scanning right, which I think makes it more muddy than it already is, but o well. Thanks for the extra credit. I can use all I can get.

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    2. I think the first one scans fine. At first I wondered about the "but" but I think it works.

      Re scanning in the second one - on my very quick re-read, the first stanza scans well, but I suppose one could argue that there are a few words that could be cut--I can see some and would write you separately if you like--my only concern that if you cut those things, it may get a bit sing-song. A little non-scanning--(and maybe it does scan--my ideas may be just to get the lines to interlock)--can keep it from being a bit too pat in that area. But it depends on what you are trying to get at, I think. I only mention it because you do--I wouldn't have focused on that before.

      Unfortunately, I have a few things right now that make me just unreasonably tense and stressed; I have to get more ego about it all. K.

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    3. ps - I fear that sounds so obnoxious! My sense is that your ear is hearing all it wants and should with great acuity--if you wanted the sound from another ear--I'm happy to be it and send alternatives, but I don't think any would be improvements or things you hadn't thought of.
      k.

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    4. Thanks, k. I appreciate the offer very much. The lines that worry me are all in the second stanza--they are ones I added after writing the short version--all the parts about silence and gifts coming late and so forth--I know there is a more economical way to say what I want, but I don't think anyone else can think of it for me since I can barely figure it out. You sound very frazzled--you need to go home, shut the bathroom door and do some primal screaming at the object that is ticking you off. Or pound on a loaf of bread dough or something. Hope it gets better.

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  6. I found myself distracted by the image of the knife itself, being very literal about it. I suspect with further reflection I would have seen what others did immediately. Both poems are strong. It's great to see them together.

    Just a tangent: while reading the longer version suddenly the Soundgarden song, 'Fell on Black Days' came to mind: "So don't you lock up something that you wanted to see fly."

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    1. I don't know, Mark, that taking it literally is not what its about, really--when you come from the place of this poem, the knife seems quite tangible--I've dreamt of it. Thanks for the turn on to the Soundgarden(whomsoever I've cradled/I've put you down.) hadn't heard it and very resonant, and thanks, as always, for reading.

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  7. I'm always tongue tied when it comes to cogent and insightful analyses, especially upon reading B's and K's notes - and, of course, yours. The shorter piece is sharper, but the longer one cuts deeper. ~

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    1. Thanks, M--and thanks for going backwards through the flip-show--I appreciate you spending that much time with my work. Glad your move vibe is subsiding and you're settling into the new space.

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  8. I'm biased, naturally, but the word count really worked in this case. The longer version is beautiful, but the edited piece is sharp as a knife in the back.

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  9. I love silence dawdling in at the end of a dream!

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  10. Oh, sharp...very sharp. I love the sharp, snap of the short version, but I like the longer one as well... Sorry I don't have a long and insightful comment, but I'm madly trying to come up with something for tomorrow. And I can't wait to read yours!

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  11. … I'm affected by both. A 21 year old and 19 year old off at college … almost three teenagers in the house and my sweet little 6 year old boy (thank God for him:) I do know about the knife - we have fashioned it ourselves and the wielders have little knowledge when they apply it. I am often quick to tears and they have NO idea why. Thank goodness my little guy loves hugs and cuddling still ;) The title just slayed me alone… Yes, I connect to this poem.

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  12. and I liked " I wonder if the child's real and only kindness is to forgive." Blueoran's quote… just perfect as well.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg