A Brief Word for Rooms

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TrevorConway
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A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by TrevorConway » Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:59 pm

A Brief Word for Rooms

Hallway

Welcome!
Step inside.
Visitors, please wipe your feet.
My carpet, there’s talk of tearing it up
and polishing the wood beneath.
I lift the stairs into the sky,
a ballerina hoisted at the hips,
and I hear the various lilts of steps,
each with their own rhythm and weight.
By evening, I hum to a wonderful sound –
“Dinner!” –
and people pass through me to gather round.


Kitchen

I aspire to be bright and sleek.
Fluorescent. Daylit. Watching the clock.

You hear me boil and sizzle,
see me stain,
fogging the windows with steam.

I am your watering hole,
where conversation comes in fragments
between the rattle of drawers,
your body always turning.


Utility Room

I’d speak in a whisper
if I spoke at all.
I’m small and undernourished,
quite like a child
you forgot at the shop.
If I had a human name,
you’d call me Frank,
wincing as the dog gets in.
And believe me when I tell you
I’d never take up
much of your time.


Sitting Room

I’ve warmed you by the fire,
placed a glass of swirling brandy into your hand,
invited you to doze,
speak,
smoke
or recline.

And haven’t I seen little girls on laps,
kisses, arms, wrapped around necks?
I have been, all along,
your friend
and lover.

And if you trust me,
I will forge new memories for you.


Bathroom

Are you happy at the mirror?

I’ll tell you how you look,
and I won’t care that you stare so much.
I’m devoted to your body,
though I might seem harsh.

Visitors will ask for me.
They’ll ruffle the mat over cold tile
and unwind soft paper.

I harbour rain, rivers and lakes,
and I echo. Oh, how I echo!
Please open the window as you leave.


Bedroom

There is time for thought,
rippling over the floor, the walls,
for staring at wrinkled curtains as you perceive
life as it is
or as it could be.

The bed is your centrepiece,
a thick cocoon to make you new
before letting the light in again.

Here, there are snores and moans, murmurs of pleasure,
but mainly thoughts
of bank balances and chunks of time.

I will be your first and last,
the one to whisper,
“Good morning and good night”.


Thanks for all the great feedback on my previous poem, everyone. Any thoughts on the following here?...

Title

Structure

General approach/format

Tired phrases or images

Boring/Unimaginative wording

Redundant words/lines or those that could be removed simply to improve the rhythm

Thanks again, ya'll

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:05 pm

.
Hi Trevor.
Enjoyable read, though I feel 'brief' may be somewhat misleading :)
It might be more 'coherent' were it the rooms of a particular house, rather then attempting something so general that it is too full of clichés
(Sitting Room/Bedroom, for instance). It's not 'quirky' enough.


Hallway
The tone seems slightly uneven (L1-5, L10-12 versus L6-9) and it seems caught between evoking the hallway and serving as an introduction to the poem. I rather prefer the 'second' half (L6-9).

Let me be the first
to bid you - visitors,
please wipe your feet,
my carpet
may be worn and dated
but there's talk of refurbishing
the wood beneath - welcome

Like a ballerina hoisted at the hips
I lift the stairs
and hear the lilt
of steps
which trip to their own
weight and rhythm.
I'll lead you on
...

Kitchen
Like 'hallway', two distinct halves. Not too keen on the first six lines. Rather bland (and not buying 'I aspire ... ') but L7-10 seem worth developing (whose 'body'?)

Utility Room
Possibly my favourite section (though I think you could cut L7-12)

I’m small and undernourished,
like a child you forgot
at the shop. if I spoke
at all I’d speak in a whisper


Sitting Room
Not getting anything from this section.

Bathroom
Just a bit (more) light butchery

I harbour rains, rivers, lakes
and echos, how I echo!
Are you happy at the mirror?
Please open the window as you leave.


Bedroom
needs to be more here, I think.

There is time for thought,
for staring at the walls,
wrinkled curtains, life
as it is or as it could be.



Regards, Not


.

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by Firebird » Sat Mar 28, 2020 6:44 pm

Hi Trev,

This isn’t doing a great deal for me, I’m afraid (maybe I’ve missed something that’s going on under the surface). Sorry to be so candid. My favourite section is the bathroom, but I think it depends too much on the identity of the mirror. The sitting room seems too much like a 1950s style magazine description, and the end of the hallway a little like that too. I found the bedroom a little flat. I agree with what Not said: it would be better if these rooms were less generic and based more on an individual home.

Anyway, that’s my take ok it. Sorry I can’t be more positive.

Looking forward to seeing your rewrite of Air-born (though obviously there’s no rush. Sometimes it takes me months).

Cheers,

Tristan

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by TrevorConway » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:31 pm

Thanks a million for the detailed analysis, Not. I really appreciate it. Yes, "brief" was a bit tongue-in-cheek!

There's lots to digest in what you've said, and it's too late in the night here to properly consider it right now, but I'll certainly give it all soem though when I go revising the poem again.

Thanks, and chat again soon.

T

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by TrevorConway » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:37 pm

Cheers for the honest feedback, Tristan. The poems I'm posting are potentially gonna be included in a collection based around fatherhood/domesticity/home/houses/childhood, so it's good to see what ones do and don't work for other people, and then deciding what gets included or not in the collection.

And don't feel bad, of course. Not all poems are great, and the "negative" feedback is very helpful.

Yeah, it'll be a while before I get revising "Air-born", with the feedback in mind, as I'm forging on with new stuff for now.

Muchas gracias, amigo :D

T

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by Macavity » Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:58 am

hi Trevor,
An ambitious piece, that does have interest, but like the other readers I am not absorbed into the poem's world. This could be due to reader baggage: my perception is that rooms are defined by us, how we use them, what we put in them. They are a blank page to which we give meaning and personality. The sitting room section sort of keys into the fact with the avuncular image, though behaviours are prompted by the environment. The hallway refers to people, I presume family, but I feel a focus on an individual may thread the narrative of the different room voices and provided an layer of interest. Alternatively, you could give more personality to the personfications, something you have achieved with the utility room. There is a third person distancing, detachment, in most of the room voices that keeps the reader outside the poem.

hope that helps some

mac

TrevorConway wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:59 pm
A Brief Word for Rooms

Hallway

Welcome!
Step inside.
Visitors, please wipe your feet.
My carpet, there’s talk of tearing it up............which does the hall prefer? is there a worry/neurosis that can be emphasized?
and polishing the wood beneath.
I lift the stairs into the sky,
a ballerina hoisted at the hips,
and I hear the various lilts of steps,
each with their own rhythm and weight.
By evening, I hum to a wonderful sound –
“Dinner!” –
and people pass through me to gather round.


Kitchen

I aspire to be bright and sleek.
Fluorescent. Daylit. Watching the clock.

You hear me boil and sizzle,
see me stain,
fogging the windows with steam.....................perhaps the room could complain, the sweaty heat, the servility

I am your watering hole,
where conversation comes in fragments
between the rattle of drawers,
your body always turning.


Utility Room

I’d speak in a whisper
if I spoke at all.
I’m small and undernourished,
quite like a child
you forgot at the shop.
If I had a human name,
you’d call me Frank,
wincing as the dog gets in.
And believe me when I tell you
I’d never take up
much of your time.


Sitting Room

I’ve warmed you by the fire,
placed a glass of swirling brandy into your hand,
invited you to doze,
speak,
smoke
or recline.

And haven’t I seen little girls on laps,
kisses, arms, wrapped around necks?
I have been, all along,
your friend
and lover..................................more a bedroom trait?

And if you trust me,
I will forge new memories for you..................I don't know what this means, vague.


Bathroom

Are you happy at the mirror?

I’ll tell you how you look,
and I won’t care that you stare so much................construct something around vanity, truth
I’m devoted to your body,
though I might seem harsh.

Visitors will ask for me.
They’ll ruffle the mat over cold tile
and unwind soft paper.

I harbour rain, rivers and lakes,
and I echo. Oh, how I echo!
Please open the window as you leave.


Bedroom

There is time for thought,
rippling over the floor, the walls,
for staring at wrinkled curtains as you perceive
life as it is
or as it could be.

The bed is your centrepiece,
a thick cocoon to make you new
before letting the light in again.

Here, there are snores and moans, murmurs of pleasure,
but mainly thoughts
of bank balances and chunks of time.

I will be your first and last,
the one to whisper,
“Good morning and good night”.

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by TrevorConway » Fri Apr 03, 2020 2:03 pm

Thanks a million, Mac. Yes, I'm certainly gonna try a version where each room has more character, based on the feedback. Some things make so much sense when someone points it out.

Really appreciate the depth of your critique, Mac.

Thanks again,

T

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by JJWilliamson » Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:01 am

I thoroughly enjoyed this clever poem, Trevor, finding myself smiling all the way through. Hope that's appropriate.
TrevorConway wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:59 pm
A Brief Word for Rooms

Hallway

Welcome!
Step inside.
Visitors, please wipe your feet.
My carpet, there’s talk of tearing it up ..."There's talk of tearing my carpet up" perhaps.
and polishing the wood beneath.
I lift the stairs into the sky,
a ballerina hoisted at the hips,
and I hear the various lilts of steps, ...Maybe "footsteps"
each with their own rhythm and weight.
By evening, I hum to a wonderful sound –
“Dinner!” – ...This seems archaic to my mind. The dinner gong belongs in an Agatha Christy novel. Now, where is Hercule. :)
and people pass through me to gather round.


Kitchen

I aspire to be bright and sleek.
Fluorescent. Daylit. Watching the clock. ...Love it all

You hear me boil and sizzle,
see me stain,
fogging the windows with steam. ...ditto

I am your watering hole,
where conversation comes in fragments
between the rattle of drawers,
your body always turning. ...Excellent closing image.


Utility Room

I’d speak in a whisper
if I spoke at all.
I’m small and undernourished,
quite like a child
you forgot at the shop.
If I had a human name,
you’d call me Frank,
wincing as the dog gets in.
And believe me when I tell you
I’d never take up
much of your time. ...My favourite strophe and one that could easily stand alone as a super poem.


Sitting Room

I’ve warmed you by the fire,
placed a glass of swirling brandy into your hand,
invited you to doze,
speak,
smoke
or recline. ...This strophe is fine but it's a bit predictable and ordinary. Perhaps the fire, brandy, smoke and sleep are too familiar, if not clichéd. I did recline by the fire with a brandy, but it was Boxing Day. A glass of wine or pint of "draught" Guinness would be more up my street.

And haven’t I seen little girls on laps,
kisses, arms, wrapped around necks?
I have been, all along,
your friend
and lover.

And if you trust me,
I will forge new memories for you. ...I like this.


Bathroom

Are you happy at the mirror? ...Ha! Brilliant.

I’ll tell you how you look,
and I won’t care that you stare so much.
I’m devoted to your body,
though I might seem harsh. ...Highly entertaining section.

Visitors will ask for me.
They’ll ruffle the mat over cold tile
and unwind soft paper.

I harbour rain, rivers and lakes,
and I echo. Oh, how I echo! ...One of the echoes could go.
Please open the window as you leave. ...How very true! :)


Bedroom

There is time for thought,
rippling over the floor, the walls, ...Not following this image.
for staring at wrinkled curtains as you perceive
life as it is
or as it could be.

The bed is your centrepiece, ...Yes, the bed is crucial.
a thick cocoon to make you new
before letting the light in again.

Here, there are snores and moans, murmurs of pleasure,
but mainly thoughts
of bank balances and chunks of time. ...Not following the significance of 'chunks of time'. Why 'chunks' ?

I will be your first and last,
the one to whisper,
“Good morning and good night”. ...The close works very well for me.


Overall, a super piece that holds the eye from start to finish.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by TrevorConway » Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:10 am

Hi JJ,

Thanks very much for your overall comment and specific edits. Very much appreciated. Like the others who've commented, you've given me some ideas to ponder and some I'm immediately sure I'll adopt.

ps. I still shout "Dinner!" to my wife! (Or did you actually think I included a dinner gong in the poem?)

Thanks again,

T

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by Jackie » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:42 pm

Hi Trevor,

I enjoyed this read.

Two things nagged at me. One was the point of view—"you" seemed to refer to changeable people. I thought the reason might be that each room was more closely linked to the structure than who inhabited it, but it didn't seem so.

The other was the hope that this was not really a house; that your rooms were building another metaphorical structure altogether.

Still, the poem kept me going, all through.

Best,
Jackie

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by TrevorConway » Sun Apr 05, 2020 8:45 am

Hey Jackie,

Thanks so much for your feedback. I always imagined the "you" addressing an occupant of the house, and by extension the reader (since I imagined the reader being an occupant/positioning him/herself as the occupant). I'll look closely at my use of "you" and see if it can be more consistent. If there's any parts that you thought contradicted other parts, it'd help if you could point them out, but I may come across them myself.

You think it'd work best to add something towards the ends which ties everything together in a metaphorical kind of way?

Thanks again, Jackie, and hope the follow-up questions aren't a pain.

T

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by ray miller » Sun Apr 05, 2020 2:51 pm

If you're addressing an occupant of the house then the opening 3 lines ring false, I think. That said, I think the rest of Hallway is the best part of the poem. I love the stairs and ballerina lines.

"fog" the windows with steam - better?

I’d speak in a whisper
if I spoke at all.
I’m small and undernourished,
quite like a child
you forgot at the shop. - that's great, I'd stop there.

The Sitting Room is the weakest of all.

Bathroom is good.

It reminded me slightly of Beauty and the Beast. Also I recall trying to write a series like this myself, but I only got as far as the stairs and the bathroom. Writing separate poems for each room is probably the way to go, though.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by TrevorConway » Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:02 pm

Thanks for the detailed response, Ray. Ah yes, I see the direct contradiction in "you" after having addressed "visitors" early on. I'll have to work on that. And interesting re the separate poems - as a sequence of poems, I suppose.

And thanks for giving your impression of which part worked least well.

Chat again soon,

T
ray miller wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 2:51 pm
If you're addressing an occupant of the house then the opening 3 lines ring false, I think. That said, I think the rest of Hallway is the best part of the poem. I love the stairs and ballerina lines.

"fog" the windows with steam - better?

I’d speak in a whisper
if I spoke at all.
I’m small and undernourished,
quite like a child
you forgot at the shop. - that's great, I'd stop there.

The Sitting Room is the weakest of all.

Bathroom is good.

It reminded me slightly of Beauty and the Beast. Also I recall trying to write a series like this myself, but I only got as far as the stairs and the bathroom. Writing separate poems for each room is probably the way to go, though.

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Re: A Brief Word for Rooms

Post by David » Sun Apr 05, 2020 4:48 pm

Hi Trevor,

In a nutshell: I like it. But we can explore the nutshell in more detail.

Hallway - I quite like the rather intrusive metaphor of "a ballerina hoisted at the hips", but does it seem out of register with the prevailing voice in this section?

I don't see the applicability of Frank to the utility room. A moment of unnecessary whimsy?

And the last line of Bathroom seems like a lapse of taste. (Or is that just me being priggish?)

But overall I think it works.

Do you know Les Murray's bed poem? It is magnificent. We should not depress ourselves by comparing ourselves with Les Murray, though.

Cheers

David

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