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I APPRECIATE POETRY CRITIQUE > Zoë and Me By the Sea

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message 1: by Paula Tohline (last edited Jun 09, 2012 06:10PM) (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments I watch the seagulls flock around you,
awaiting your chase, they love you
with their teasing, and with ungull-like patience
accommodate your impulsive joy.
They ignore the tidbits flung by others;
squander their chances
to get their fill. In this moment
they feed on your delight, and sound
their satisfaction with raucous
nattering chatter.

Your toddling dance at an end,
the feathered clowns, in a flurry
of wilding wings, take off for the blue-green sea.
Catching the changeable currents of air,
their clumsy retreat is transformed
to winged grace. With focused, inerrant eyes,
they search and follow where instinct leads.

Their brushed-grey wings
cast wavy reflections
on the rhythmic sea. Pewter figurines,
come to life, they soar above the wake
of unsuspecting fish that move along
well-traveled lanes beneath the white-capped
swells. Ignorant of the hungry gulls,
they are scooped and swallowed, prey
in the practiced cycle of life and death.

And I follow you, barely able
to keep up with your steps.
And I know that in your youth
you will always be ahead.
In your life you will walk paths
crooked and straight, progressing
through the narrow alleys
and wider avenues of time.

You will be guarded and surrounded,
protected with love. The life you live
will be your own. Yet I will follow,
feel the intractable pain,
and know the exquisite joy
of your beautiful dance;
leaving, returning, leaving again -
each step of your choosing,
your life.


message 2: by Paula Tohline (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments WARNING!: Not a poem for those who do not like "telling." If that is your primary comment - please make it if you wish, or you can indicate that by just typing in "IAOOT." (I Am One Of Those)

BTW - that was meant to be funny. I really do appreciate whatever comments you might wish to make!


message 3: by Mirvan (new)

Mirvan  Ereon (mirvanereon) | 79 comments Paula wrote: "WARNING!: Not a poem for those who do not like "telling." If that is your primary comment - please make it if you wish, or you can indicate that by just typing in "IAOOT." (I Am One Of Those)

B..."


i love it =P I love anecdotal poems =P


message 4: by Paula Tohline (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments Mirvan wrote: "Paula wrote: "WARNING!: Not a poem for those who do not like "telling." If that is your primary comment - please make it if you wish, or you can indicate that by just typing in "IAOOT." (I Am On..."

Thank you very much, Mirvan. My poetry-style is not at all contemporary, and generally tells a story - sometimes metaphorical, sometimes not, but it is the sort I like to read. Being a "teller" is a hard habit to break, and I believe that I have at last come to the decision to just say "so be it!" I have been writing poetry - on and off - for 55 years. I guess I am too set in my ways to try to change now to suit the current styles.

However, I am admittedly much too wordy most of the time, so eventually all of my poems are edited to a greater or lesser degree depending upon what I can stand to cut! Words are my babies. It's hard to sacrifice them - but it often must be done!


message 5: by Doug (new)

Doug | 859 comments Kinda reminds me of the beatitudes. Why not try to remove all the non essential works: I, an, and, of, your, etc.


message 6: by Paula Tohline (last edited Jun 15, 2012 10:06PM) (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments I'm not exactly certain what you mean by that, Doug - could you further explain?

This poem is actually sort of a giant metaphor of leading and following, leaving and returning, etc. - it describes an actual day I spent with my granddaughter at the ocean, and it describes Zoe following the gulls, the gulls leave and follow after the fish, then I try to follow Zoë, who in turn follows after her own life. There is always give and take in the leading and following, and it is a reassurance to Zoë and all children that they are surrounded by love no matter where they go, and how far they may travel, and who and how they follow will be their choice - as it is with me, the gulls, and the fish!


message 7: by Doug (new)

Doug | 859 comments Paula, I must have been asleep. I meant 'words' not 'works'. It is written like a letter. There are phrases that sound like blessings.

You have phrases like "of your life" which are givens and unnecessary and in fact absorb value from more important parts.
If the format is slimmed down you would get this:

I follow you, barely able
to keep up
know in your youth
you ll always be ahead.
you will walk paths
crooked and straight
through the narrow alleys
and wider avenues
Guarded and surrounded
with love. The life you live
your own Yet I will follow,
feel the pain,
know the joy
of your dance;
leaving, returning, leaving again -
each step you choose,

I am just saying,,,,, . :) :)


message 8: by Ruth (last edited Jun 16, 2012 08:57AM) (new)

Ruth | 4986 comments Ah, but Doug, you have turned her poem into an abstract discourse centered on the cliche of "paths."

I think, Paula, that you need to concentrate on the story you're telling of your day at the beach, making it vivid with details. If you do that well enough, you won't need to "explain" the poem as you do in the last two stanzas. We'll get it.

You know, there is poet's work and there's reader's work. The poet's job is to write the poem so that the reader can enter into it and come to an understanding.
It's the reader's job to come to that understanding.

If we poets do the readers' work for them, by explaining the poem, we're talking AT them instead of WITH them. We're depriving the reader of the joy of discovery.


message 9: by Doug (last edited Jun 16, 2012 09:32AM) (new)

Doug | 859 comments I agree with Ruth. Move toward one waY or the other.
:)
Doug


message 10: by Donald (new)

Donald (DonF) | 605 comments Paula - IAOOT. I enjoyed your poem, but i think Ruth's comments are valid, the last 2 stanzas should be tightened. I especially like your description of the seagulls and the fish moving in "well-traveled lanes." Are seagulls wings gray? - that's a question, I'm not sure. One thing I think is lacking, there is no physical description of Zoe - it is her poem.

But what really caught my attention was the word 'nattering."

natter [ˈnætə] Chiefly Brit vb
(intr) to talk idly and at length; chatter or gossip
n
prolonged idle chatter or gossip

I suspect "nattering chatter" is redundant.

No one could have lived through the late 1960's, early 70's in this country and who was not sleepwalking, who didn't remember that word and the man who will forever own it - I refer to Spiro T Agnew, Richard Nixon's felonious Vice President. Agnew's famous phrase "the nattering Nabobs of negativity" - actually speech writer William Safire's invention - echoes through the decades like a vile gift that keeps on giving for their political descendants! My 10 cents - 2 cents adjusted for inflation!


message 11: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 4986 comments If it were my poem I'd see if I could reduce the last two stanzas to one line at the most.


message 12: by Paula Tohline (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments Ruth wrote: "Ah, but Doug, you have turned her poem into an abstract discourse centered on the cliche of "paths."

I think, Paula, that you need to concentrate on the story you're telling of your day at the be..."


Excellent points, Ruth! I was sort of hammering at the lead/follow metaphor. I'll think about this one for a while. Probably put it away and come back at it fresh. Thank so much for the visit! I've missed your advice - even if you might think I don't follow it. I still think I'm getting a little bit closer to showing than I was at first. . .


message 13: by Paula Tohline (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments Doug wrote: "Paula, I must have been asleep. I meant 'words' not 'works'. It is written like a letter. There are phrases that sound like blessings.

You have phrases like "of your life" which are givens and ..."


Donald wrote: "Paula - IAOOT. I enjoyed your poem, but i think Ruth's comments are valid, the last 2 stanzas should be tightened. I especially like your description of the seagulls and the fish moving in "well-tr..."

Thanks for those thoughts, Doug, and I knew you meant "words!" I was just trying to figure out exactly what words you were talking about and how. You explained very well! Thanks! *smile*

Donald - of course Safire's phrase came to mind when I threw the word in - if you could have heard those seagulls talking to Zoë that day, you would think maybe i wasn't redundant enough, because those birds were! Sheesh!


message 14: by Paula Tohline (last edited Jun 16, 2012 08:47PM) (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments Donald wrote: "Paula - IAOOT. I enjoyed your poem, but i think Ruth's comments are valid, the last 2 stanzas should be tightened. I especially like your description of the seagulls and the fish moving in "well-tr..."

Donald wrote: "Paula - IAOOT. I enjoyed your poem, but i think Ruth's comments are valid, the last 2 stanzas should be tightened. I especially like your description of the seagulls and the fish moving in "well-tr..."

Thanks for the "confession," Donald! I'm glad you managed to like some of it anyway - I appreciate that very much. As I told Ruth, I believe some of her points are valid, too - read my reply to her in re that.

As far as seagulls' wings - I used the term "seagulls as a collective noun - by which I mean the seabirds, some of which were gulls, were all grey that day! Go to this link, scroll down to the bottom of the post, and you will see some photos of the birds I took that day:

http://paulatohlinecalhoun1951.wordpr...

AND! If you want to know what Zoë looked like that day at the beach - go to the link below. There's a slide show of photos from that day, at the beach, and before and after, about half way down the page. Enjoy! You'll have to admit she is a beauty, and a charmer!

http://paulatohlinecalhoun1951.wordpr...

Thanks so much for commenting!


message 15: by Donald (last edited Jun 17, 2012 06:23AM) (new)

Donald (DonF) | 605 comments Paula, Thanks for including the pictures from the NC shore, which proved me wrong! Actually, I wasn't doubting you, I was just "thinking out loud," and in my mind's eye, the seagulls were pure white. I rarely get to the shore, and being 60 miles inland, the only time I see them is from a distance when they occasionally swarm the trash bins of Fast Food restaurants. Lesson: for those of us who remember a world without beachtags - don't trust your memory! As to the photos of Zoe, I second your comments and add exuberant, too!


message 16: by Paula Tohline (last edited Jun 18, 2012 02:49PM) (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments I thought a couple of the sea birds really fit the "pewter" description! And if you hadn't agreed with me about Zoë, you would be clobbered. . .I'd figure out a way! Us grandmother's, though not at all biased, are very insistent!

Thanks Donald. Appreciate the comments!

*smile*


message 17: by epat (new)

epat (patriciablake) | 781 comments Paula, the words you have chosen to describe both the birds (I love the phrase "pewter figurines come to life')and Zoe are beautiful but to me they do not hang together perfectly. I can see why you choose the birds as a metaphor, but although I can perfectly see the metaphor of leaving and returning, for me it does not quite work. It seems a bit strained although I think for you it works, you were in the moment...As you say, it is a bit of telling..maybe would work better if it wasn't. Always glad to see your work, however.


message 18: by Paula Tohline (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments Thanks so much, epat! I am definitely going to be following Ruth's suggestions in cutting the last two verses down to a couple of lines. That makes sense to me, as I really do not have to bang on the metaphor as much as I was. I'm taking a little time away from it for a while, and then I'll put it up again! You and Ruth will be the first to know! LOL


message 19: by epat (new)

epat (patriciablake) | 781 comments I guess I don't have to use the word "perfectly" so much, either. :)


message 20: by Paula Tohline (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (PaulaTohlineCalhoun) | 567 comments epat wrote: "I guess I don't have to use the word "perfectly" so much, either. :)"

Maybe you won't HAVE to with the new version! Unless it's in the good sense. . . LOL


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