Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Man walking in rain

Through the window I watch —
His hair plastered darkly above his thoughts
Rivulets running like secrets
Down through his dark beard
In this pouring rain
His brown coat flaps unbound
Blue sneakers soaked
The words in the book
He clutches to his side
Must be swimming
Rain-sodden, leaking

Here, at the window,
Is where I watched fire ravage the orchard
Dog barking, white swing under the apple tree
Red flames flickering beyond wavering glass

Here, at the window,
Is where I watched police sweep shards
Shiny glass strewn across inky pavement
Sirens wailing late into far air

Here, at the window,
Is where I watched a squirrel grow still
Fast in the dog's jaw
Flailed over the sill of death

May be those leaking words
Are the ones the man is shouting
As he marches down the sidewalk
Yelling into the wind and rain —
Words I can't distinguish through the pane
Spattered with black drops
Moments later, I am left standing
In a puddle of wordless regrets

Drawing found at ssa.gov.


Blogger Firehawk said...


I'm taken by the phrase, "Flailed over the sill of death."

I like the "angular" nature of this one, leaping from vivid moments of the past, forward and back to this newest vision. I'm not totally sold on the final line, however. I understand the contrast between the "leaking words" in the man's book and the "wordless regrets", but I feel the poem might benefit a slightly more incisive finish.

Don't mean to be overly critical on my first visit, but I feel the poem is impressive enough to merit close inspection.

11/16/2005 10:15 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Firehawk, welcome! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your thoughtful critique. You've identified one of the lines I wasn't completely satisfied with, but didn't know why except that "puddle" somehow wasn't working. After your comment about a more "incisive" finish, I think I see why.

11/16/2005 12:38 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Moose: I like this poem. The description of the man in the first part, and of the previous things watched through the window, are really strong.

I don't know if I would have picked up on the last line ... possibly it is simply, as you say, the word "puddle" which is a low-key contrast after the earlier images.

A powerful poem, and the little sketch complements it well.

11/16/2005 11:48 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Thank you, Mary. Yes, I thought the little sketch was a good match. You are seeing here one of the many times that not looking back is very hard for me. But that's part of the exercise I've set for myself. Take it as far as I can within a certain amount of time, let it go (post), and don't look back. Live with the imperfections, learn from them, leave them there. I don't do this with all things (Ha! Not by half!) but I'm doing it here in order to try to break down some of the barriers that tend to mount to the point of paralysis. I'm telling you this now because I'm sorely tempted to go back and rewrite that last section, but I won't.

11/17/2005 8:08 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

no don't go back moose. You doing this gives me courage to break down my own barriers. Thank you for being brave!!!

11/17/2005 8:19 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Mary!

11/17/2005 9:44 AM  
Blogger T L Reynolds said...

DON'T CHANG IT! I can't get over the last stanza. This is a poem I wish I would have written myself. I am impressed by the way you seamlessly pull water and words into one image...Everything fleeting and spattering away--except the puddle. Now, I am fond of the way you use the word "puddle" It works on a presentational level as well, in accordance with the word "wordless"...Just magnificent.

11/17/2005 10:49 AM  
Blogger T L Reynolds said...

OOps. Typing too fast...Don't change it.

11/17/2005 10:50 AM  
Blogger Dale said...

"Words I can't distinguish through the pane" -- there's a line to die for! (through the pane? through the pain?)

Wonderful poem.

11/17/2005 12:40 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Yeah, TLR, you remind me of what I was thinking about with "puddle." A sense of disconnect, out of touch and helpless, behind the glass, disengaged, vague and puddled. That's where I was going with this. But what I hesitate about now, after Firehawk pointed out the angularity of the rest of the poem, is not the point I was trying to make, but that perhaps I didn't make the point clearly enough. That the ending trails away, dribbles off in a way not clearly enough to express what I was doing with it. Does that make sense? I mean if you are going to be vague, shouldn't you be emphatically vague? ;-)

Dale, yes, you got the pun. Thank you.

11/17/2005 12:46 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Dale, I'm sorry, I'm afraid my response to you may look considerably shorter than I intended. :-) But you picked up on that line in just the way I'd hoped. I'm glad!

11/17/2005 1:01 PM  
Blogger T L Reynolds said...

Emphatically vague. I like this phrase as well. Poetry is so very subjective. I guess that I do tend to favor mystery:)

11/17/2005 1:27 PM  
Blogger garnet david said...

moose- my, how you've grown! you must be eating your poetic spinich! this is truly wonderful. i'm inspired to strive to write better poetry. this has a clear narrative with plenty of rich metaphore. it's balanced between the two.

i can't resist adding to the healthy discussion of the ending. i've found that leaving them hanging unexpectedly creates more emotion, like flying off a cliff. what about just leaving the last two lines off...? Then the last line would be "Words I can't distinguish through the pane
Spattered with black drops."

11/18/2005 8:47 PM  
Blogger Stranger Ken said...

It's problematic, isn't it? In the first stanza, you show us a present scene very powerfully and use it as a springboard into the memories described in the next section. In the final stanza, you ask a question which you can't or don't answer, narratively speaking because of the glass blocking the sound of the man's voice. Might there be another reason why you can't resolve that problem of what the man is saying and, if so, how does it relate to your sense that the last two lines are not quite right (A feeling I'm extremely familiar with!)?

Having read all the previous comments, I hope you won't mind my having added my view. On the plus side, though, aren't there some great images in the poem and doesn't it evoke flashbacks of memory in a really authentic way? For me it definitely does, especially the rain.

11/19/2005 9:48 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Garnet, it pleases me that you enjoyed this poem. You make a good point about endings, sometimes less is more. Show, don't tell.

Ken, your astute question points where I was trying to go -- why I can't or don't resolve the problem within the poem. It's precisely that inability, that frozen, disconnected feeling, that I was trying to illustrate here. This has been a fascinating discussion for me to see all the varied responses. I'm glad to have been reminded that even things left unsaid, must be done so strongly and clearly to be seen. I don't mind your having added your view at all; on the contrary, I appreciate it. I'm pleased you enjoyed the images, even the rain, of which I'm sure you see plenty more than I.

11/21/2005 10:29 AM  

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