Retirement

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th99
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Retirement

Post by th99 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:11 pm

The old man in the window seat
is setting quietly to his routine,
rolling the sleeves of his Oxford shirt
and repositioning his table
until the sun falls across
his bared arms, then with just a smile
he signals to the waitress
to order his usual and waits,
watching the quiet street after the morning rush
a mother with a pram
a homeless man
a few pigeons plucking
at the fallen spring blossom.
He takes his glasses from his breast pocket
cleans each lens with his napkin
and opens up the morning paper
pressing out it’s creases with his palm
and sets it between his knife and fork
slowly devouring it over the course of a few hours
until he leaves satisfied
knowing nothing happening
in the world is
escaping him that day.

th99
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Re: Retirement

Post by th99 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:12 pm

Can anyone help reserect this poem and return it to life?

barrett
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Re: Retirement

Post by barrett » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:01 pm

Hello th,

It's a good solid portrait. The first thing I'd do with it (and it's just a personal choice) would be to introduce a bit of white space, separate it out a bit.

The final five lines sit a bit awkwardly to my ear. How would you feel about losing "over the course of a few hours"? It's already implied with "slowly". You have a bit of a queue of 'ings' at the end, could this be snipped? Instead of:

until he leaves satisfied
knowing nothing happening
in the world is
escaping him that day.


Perhaps something like:

until he leaves satisfied
knowing nothing in the world
will escape him this day.


Thanks,
barrett

barrett
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Re: Retirement

Post by barrett » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:27 pm

... also, just spotted a minor typo. The "it's" in the 7th line from the bottom doesn't need an apostrophe.

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Perry
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Re: Retirement

Post by Perry » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:13 am

I don't think your poem needs resurrecting because it isn't that bad to begin with. The term that popped into my head was "a slice of life", though Barrett's designation of the poem as a "portrait" is probably more accurate.

Two things stand out for me. First, the poem could be a little more focussed. My sense of the fellow in the poem is that he has finally found order in old age, possibly after a chaotic life. His way of asserting order is to make sure he knows everything that's going on. If you could focus on that as the central idea of the poem, I think it might work a little better. My experience is that the really good poems consistently focus on a central idea, and every phrase in the poem serves that idea in one way or another.

The second thing that stands out for me is that you are not really good at detail. Your punctuation isn't very good; your syntax and sentence structure (especially in the first half of the poem) aren't very good. Fixing those things would help the poem feel more focussed.

Not a bad effort.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Retirement

Post by Macavity » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:02 am

hi th

I found this an engaging, relaxing read with a concluding bite. In that context, the poem's form and tone rolls out effectively. It did strike me that he is taking a prime position in the window seat for a few hours. I presume the cafe is not making much money!


th99 wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:11 pm
The old man in the window seat
is setting quietly to his routine,
rolling the sleeves of his Oxford shirt
and repositioning his table
until the sun falls across
his bared arms,
then with just a smile................like that, how he seeks warmth signifies his cold isolation
he signals to the waitress
to order his usual and waits,
watching the quiet street after the morning rush....quiet/quietly in l2, are they needed?
a mother with a pram
a homeless man
a few pigeons plucking
at the fallen spring blossom.
He takes his glasses from his breast pocket
cleans each lens with his napkin
and opens up the morning paper
pressing out its creases with his palm
and sets it between his knife and fork
slowly devouring it over the course of a few hours
until he leaves satisfied
knowing nothing happening
in the world is
escaping him that day.
I agree with barrett on the amount of -ing in the poem.

welcome to the forum

cheers

mac

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Re: Retirement

Post by twoleftfeet » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:14 am

I like it 99.

I wouldn't change much at all.

Just a few suggestions -

L3 - "rolling" vs "rolling up". Is this a case of British vs American usage?

L9 onwards -
Maybe add some punctuation and indentation,and leave a blank line before the second sentence:

watching the quiet street after the morning rush:
a mother with a pram,
a homeless man,
a few pigeons plucking
at the fallen spring blossom.

He takes his glasses from his breast pocket..

Lastly, maybe finish on "leaves"? :

until - satisfied,
knowing nothing happening
in the world is
escaping him that day -
he leaves.


TLF
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: Retirement

Post by NotQuiteSure » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:03 pm

.
Hi th99,
don't know if this is helpful, but ...

The old man in the window seat
is setting quietly to his routine

- I think you could substitute 'retirement' for 'routine' and find a more engaging title.
rolling the sleeves of his Oxford shirt
- Given the rest of the piece, might he not do something a bit more precise than 'rolls'
folds the sleeves of his Oxford shirt
inch over inch

and repositioning his table
- Would he be allowed to do this in a restaurant? You could cut this line and the 'sun/arms' would still work.
until the sun falls across
his bared arms, then with just a smile
he signals to the waitress
to order his usual and waits,

- 'order his usual' is unnecessary after 'routine' (but since it never arrives I'm not sure what the point of this is.)
watching the quiet street after the morning rush
- 'quietly' and now 'quiet' ?
a mother with a pram
a homeless man
a few pigeons plucking
at the fallen spring blossom.

- I like this, especially the 'pigeons plucking' but, really, shouldn't there be more? Surely he's more observant than this?
He takes his glasses from his breast pocket
cleans each lens with his napkin

- Again, nice detail, but you could add to it. Slowly, quickly, carefully, as if he was polishing a mirror ... ?
I like the ending, but as others have said, you could do more with the enjambments
(and I do think you might address the point that Mac raised, how busy is the cafe?)
You could cut 'over the course ... hours' and insert his 'usual' here.
and opens his morning paper
presses out it’s creases with his palm
sets it between his knife and fork, slowly
devours it over the course of a few hours
until he leaves satisfied, knowing
nothing happening in the world
is escaping him today.


I agree with Barrett about adding some white space (and the -ings/final line).


Regards, Not.


.

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Re: Retirement

Post by Poet » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:23 pm

I like the poem first of all, keep going, I can't find anything wrong with the piece other than what the other guys have mentioned.

th99
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Re: Retirement

Post by th99 » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:42 pm

Thank you all, this is really wonderfully valuable feedback. I generally write in isolation and can't recall receiving this level of insight to one of my poems previously so this really is wonderfully meaningful.
I immediately recognise the need for more precision, white space and also the stack up of 'ings'
There's a lot to consider so I'm going to take it away to digest!

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Re: Retirement

Post by Pauline » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:48 pm

Isn't it fabulous we all have different takes on a piece of writing. :

I hope you can take something positive from my offering.
th99 wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:11 pm
The old man in the window seat
is setting quietly to his routine,
rolling the sleeves of his Oxford shirt
and repositioning his table
until the sun falls across
his bared arms, then with just a smile
he signals to the waitress
to order his usual and waits,
watching the quiet street after the morning rush
a mother with a pram
a homeless man
a few pigeons plucking
at the fallen spring blossom.
He takes his glasses from his breast pocket
cleans each lens with his napkin
and opens up the morning paper
pressing out it’s creases with his palm
and sets it between his knife and fork
slowly devouring it over the course of a few hours
until he leaves satisfied
knowing nothing happening
in the world is
escaping him that day.



I settle myself in the window seat
and roll the sleeves of my shirt. The sun warms
the routine of my day. I smile, signal
the waitress over. The usual please

and wait. Outside, the morning rush has calmed.
The street is quiet. A few pigeons pluck
at the fallen blossom and I open
the morning paper. Nothing’s happening.

I cut it dead because that’s how I felt reading this.
Nothing is happening in this poem.
This is where you can elaborate.
Expand on what’s going on in your own life.
What you see from the window of the café.
Offer more than just a mum pushing a pram. A homeless man ….doing what?
OK, I apologise for firstly rewriting your poem in the first person and totally removing the parts I thought were superfluous. I only offer my take on this because you ask for help in giving it life.
I’m just offering you a suggestion on what you can do with it.
You may not like what I suggest and I’m fine with that.
It’s your poem, not mine.

You have the basis of a great poem here. It’s worth investing in. You have a great eye for detail.
It just needs more...more.
Take or toss my suggestions.
I look forward to seeing where you go with this. :D

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Re: Retirement

Post by RCJames » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:05 am

I think it all sits quite well in the original, the nicely rendered particulars in a portrait
of a character committed to an ordered, particular routine. A nice touch with "devouring"
the newspaper after placing it between the fork and knife. Enjoyed this - RC

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Re: Retirement

Post by HonourStedman » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:11 pm

Reading the various critiques from Forum members I do tend to side with Pauline and Perry. There just is not enough in this poem to reward the reader and the three images given - mother and pram, homeless man, and the pigeons plucking - seem a bit "hackneyed" with no interesting detail about them. I feel that there is insufficient "purpose" to this piece and yet I also feel that you have more to give. So I will watch and wait, dear th99.

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Re: Retirement

Post by twoleftfeet » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:34 pm

HonourStedman wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:11 pm
Reading the various critiques from Forum members I do tend to side with Pauline and Perry. There just is not enough in this poem to reward the reader and the three images given - mother and pram, homeless man, and the pigeons plucking - seem a bit "hackneyed" with no interesting detail about them. I feel that there is insufficient "purpose" to this piece and yet I also feel that you have more to give. So I will watch and wait, dear th99.
I'm not sure I agree with that - why must we assume that the old man, in observing the goings-on outside the window,
has anything but a perfunctory interest in them? I'd say he's probably much more interested in his routine and his
newspaper,absorbed in his own little world;probably lonely :( but maybe somewhat narcissistic and irritating. :)
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: Retirement

Post by Macavity » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:17 am

why must we assume that the old man, in observing the goings-on outside the window,
has anything but a perfunctory interest in them?
That's how I read it too. His detachment/disconnect from real people pitches circumstances/observations at the label level.

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Re: Retirement

Post by HonourStedman » Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:09 pm

Yes, having re-read the poem a couple of times, I am inclined to revise my view and do see what you were getting at. :)

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