Lonely Children

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Perry
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Lonely Children

Post by Perry » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:46 am

There are many lonely children in the world.
They are not children in fact, not being young;
nor are they children because they are ‘young at heart’.
They are children because they seek what children seek,
need what children need,
bleed as children bleed.

Their eyes are innocent and sad;
their smiles ask for attention.
They will do things for you, though never much —
it is not for your happiness they strive.
They will bargain with you:
They will stroke you once if you will stroke them twice.
It is not selfishness, this;
it is the cat rubbing your leg for food,
for what you give them will be their sustenance.

You will find that they are stiff.
Never having known the shelter of love,
they are wind-burned and sore.
Not your warmth, nor any, will warm them.
And when they leave you, which they will,
do not be shocked.
Nothing can keep them satisfied.
The search itself has become their lives,
a search for something they never knew and can’t describe.
Your love is the wrong key to fit their lock.
Theirs is a lock that has no key.

-end-

The bulk of the poem is 30-40 years old, but the final seven lines are less than a year old. It took me that long to figure out what I was trying to say — i.e., to fully understand the character type I was writing about.

When I wrote the first stanza/strophe, the repetition of the word “children” was intentional, and I saw it as a technique, but I am guessing that most people won’t like it.
Last edited by Perry on Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

ray miller
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Re: Lonely Children

Post by ray miller » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:16 pm

I enjoyed this. I wonder if the last stanza is absolutely necessary, it could certainly be more concise.
Perry wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:46 am
There are many lonely children in the world.
They are not children in fact, not being young;
nor are they children because they are ‘young at heart’.
They are children because they seek what children seek,
need what children need,
bleed as children bleed. - I think you should cut this line, children bleed the same as everyone else, really.

Their eyes are innocent and sad;
their smiles ask for attention. - is "ask" a strong enough term, maybe beg or plead?
They will do things for you, though never much —
it is not for your happiness they strive. - I'd cut this line. It goes without saying.
They will bargain with you: - ditto.
They will stroke you once if you will stroke them twice.
It is not selfishness, this;
it is the cat rubbing your leg for food,
for what you give them will be their sustenance. - I like those last 4 lines

You will find that they are stiff.
Never having known the shelter of love,
they are wind-burned and sore.
Not your warmth, nor any, will warm them.
And when they leave you, which they will,
do not be shocked.
Nothing can keep them satisfied.
The search itself has become their lives,
a search for something they never knew and can’t describe.
Your love is the wrong key to fit their lock.
Theirs is a lock that has no key.

-end-

The bulk of the poem is 30-40 years old, but the final seven lines are less than a year old. It took me that long to figure out what I was trying to say — i.e., to fully understand the character type I was writing about.

When I wrote the first stanza/strophe, the repetition of the word “children” was intentional, and I saw it as a technique, but I am guessing that most people won’t like it.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Lonely Children

Post by bjondon » Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:46 am

Hi Perry,
this is a very effective, raw, articulate piece.
Ican't add much to Ray's close reading.
I agree with most of the cuts he suggests.
It's almost as if there are two voices here, both equally compassionate but
one strange, innocent and revelatory (almost unearthly) the other more like a wise
social worker telling us stuff we already knew or could work out.
The power to move and surprise the reader lies in that first voice.
I like the rhythm of longer and shorter lines so you may have to tweak
a bit but I would go with Ray's edit, see if there is anything crucial missing.
'sustenance' is a good word to end on . . .low key but of course life depends on it.
Not sure about the title.

Regards, Jules

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Perry
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Re: Lonely Children

Post by Perry » Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:38 am

Ray and Jules, I appreciate that you are trying to help, but chopping off the end of the poem is not an option. It leaves me with an introduction and nothing else.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Lonely Children

Post by Ros » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:30 pm

I think you could effectively lose the last 5 lines, which rather spell out what the reader has already gathered. I like 'wind-burned and sore', and agree with Ray about the bleed line. I enjoyed this.

Ros
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Perry
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Re: Lonely Children

Post by Perry » Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:54 pm

Ros wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:30 pm
I think you could effectively lose the last 5 lines, which rather spell out what the reader has already gathered. I like 'wind-burned and sore', and agree with Ray about the bleed line. I enjoyed this.
Thank you for looking at the poem, Ros. As a person approaching seventy, I was taught that a good poem has a clear ending or conclusion, and so I've been nailing down my endings all my life. But I am frequently advised on poetry forums to cut my endings. In my view, cutting the ending would turn this poem into a character sketch without a finale. Since you are an editor of a magazine, perhaps you can tell me what's wrong with ending a poem with a clear conclusion. Is this a new concept among poets, that the reader should be left to figure it out? In this poem, I never make it explicit what kind of person I am talking about (although to some it may be obvious), so even with the ending, there is stuff for the reader to figure out.

I'm really at a loss here because, to me, the ending is the best part. In my opinion, what I'm saying in those five lines is not obvious.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Lonely Children

Post by Ros » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:14 pm

The only real effect of being an editor is that I get to read a lot of poetry, good and bad. I make no particular claim about the endings of poems in general - my personal preference is for not spelling things out too much. Whether fashions have changed, I don't know. I suppose my comment was really a compliment - you've already shown me that

Nothing can keep them satisfied.
The search itself has become their lives,
a search for something they never knew and can’t describe

and so these lines in particular felt like unnecessary commentary. I can only respond as a reader. I find it hard with my own poems to know how much the reader will grasp, and of course can't view it as the would.

Ros
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Re: Lonely Children

Post by Perry » Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:04 pm

Thank you for the additional insight. I have identified two lines which are possibly redundant, and I can remove those without a problem. Cutting out any of the others will be harder.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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