Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I board the rail



Each morning when I board the rail
I crawl inside and hide.

I want to gouge out the hunger that
bulges in their wide dead eyes.
Side to side we sway and I
chug short breaths in and out
suck deep until transported

home to curry, rains and chai.

Inside out the beggar child's
dead eyes crawl up my legs
and I scratch and swipe
at hunger that can't be fed

while I ride the rail

contracted labor far from home
where my family pays another's wages.
Here my young wife prepares
our meals at home an old woman
would pack my eggs in foil.

Here I'm indentured servant
in my father's house favored son.
Here my mansion has four rooms
at home servants clean our dishes
iron our clothes and make our
beds.

Every morning I board the rail
and smother the screaming inside my head
push down my birthright and comfort
and tuck my own hunger that can't be fed 
I can't have seen in my dead wide eyes.
I want to scratch until they bleed.





the imaginary garden with real toadsI'm apprehensive about this one because I'm not sure if the viewpoint comes off authentic. Two, I realize how much I'm attached to concrete images. Lastly even when I ramble I need to order. Ack. Critique and observations welcome. Kerry challenged us to write a Rhapsody inspired piece.  Join us.

22 comments:

  1. you're just being YOU and that's okay.....so don't worry about viewpoint, other than your own and if you love concrete images shout it from the roof tops.

    rambling....now that's something that only the lucky ones have the ability to do, so join the club {even if it's orderly} :)

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  2. Oh, you've been on my mind, Beth. Thanks for coming by.

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  3. This is an interesting piece, LaTonya. I like that you ran into it headlong and really gave a train-like feel to the progression to echo that opening line, yet also a sense of slow stifling, to drive home the end of that same stanza--setting the scene for the action--and I like what you did with the character of the speaker--made him both mysterious and obvious--aren't we all, I guess. Thanks for making my brain engage!

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  4. hedgewitch, I appreciate your thoughtful reply. It helps. When I read yours, I almost didn't post. I'd love to a bottle of your magic. Thank you.

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  5. It's got a great rhythm and a slew of strong images, LaTonya.

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  6. Every morning, the train. You made every thought, emotion seem quite real. I enjoyed this!

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  7. From the first lines of entering a train the reader feels the motion...discord rattles and rides the rails going and coming...Great piece!

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  8. I'm in awe... a train is a perfect setting for rhapsody. (When I read most of these posts I wanted to go back and not enter it into the rhapsody challenge) I like how your poem drifts between what is observed and what he is thinking... I think concrete works with rhapsody done in this way - I fear I stuck to a theme a bit too strongly. We are here to learn in the garden, to challenge ourselves. I think you did very well.

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  9. It rattles a bit, LaTonya, less smoothly than some of your other writes, but that serves to accentuate the jarring as when on a train, and the subject matter. It's not a pretty subject, but it's real, and it's toothsome, and it bites. I don't even know if I'll write something for this challenge, so I commend you on pushing through.

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  10. M, you it on what troubled me most the subject matter and the fear of not rising to the challenge. Thanks for addressing the sore points.

    Helen, Susie and Margaret, thanks for pointing out what works here. I am encouraged and I needed it because I do want to grow.

    Thank you all.

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  11. I definitely feel the motion in this piece, the forward thrust of engines which transport the commuter to a destination he would rather avoid. The rambling of thoughts, inspired by both internal and external factors creates a sense of shifting parts of the whole - there's the narrative of wife back home, the sense of a history of indentured labour, the beggar at the wayside and the quest for a better life for all. Finally the chorus effect of repetition brings us full circle at the end. Your style suggests improvisation, but I believe that a lot of thought has been put into this piece. I was particularly moved by this stanza:

    Inside out the beggar child's
    dead eyes crawl up my legs
    and I scratch and swipe
    at hunger that can't be fed

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  12. Kerry I live among a significant population of contracted workers. This is a contemporary reflection. The lines about servants and home are informed by a South Asian poet and South Asian fiction I've read so yes, this has been with me awhile.

    I don't know if I'll produce a better revision but the thoughtful critiques mean a great deal. I'm glad for the exchange.

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  13. I think you captured the motion, as Kerry said, and the weird state of entitled emptiness. Um...did you mean "smoother", or did you mean "smother"?

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  14. Some do not observe and feel as you do when traveling on the train or bus or even standing in the street. I have always been one to create stories of those I see and imagine the lives they lead, of their hopes and sorrows. It is only when you see someone doing the same to you that you realize that observation is such a wonderful resource for the writer and an education too.

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  15. I felt the jarring and grinding tracks of the train ~ The smell of curry and chai gave this piece an asian/exotic beat ~ The last verse though nailed it for me ~ We can't all write pretty music most of them ~ Have a lovely week ~

    Grace

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  16. sent you my crit in an email already, there are cool elements in this though...the setting of the train is great, i love public transport...i agree with heaven in that i like the tension in the last verse...i think if you rewrite it at some point start with that and it will solve what i said in the email...

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  17. Between parallel lines, what a simple narrative poetry, as in the early scriptures, two concrete things and time and electricity between them... does it ever close or tracks end. We can go into a forest lost and halfway thru we are coming out again. But who is to say alone between two passing trains which moves, which wheels spin? You had me with the photo in the heart of town and not the struggle to join East and West... how mysterious and out of time the streamlined train, the future seen say in the 30s or now a little dated not quite nostalgic collectible past...and all those times we ride ties by ties hard our feet to walk its own tic toc stepping punch the clock work, all this wondering what the other strangers think. In creative motion we cannot measure the violets blur or roses red of mournful Doppler shift...your rhapsody a flower in the concrete and metal Ginsberg standing out, or some rusting artifact as evidence of us when the sand and jungles claim all back as if they can.

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  18. It feels authentic and the choppy-train track-speed, cutting images and emotions really work well for this, in my opinion. Well done!

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  19. yeah, this is affecting, especially the lines Kerry pointed out... the child's eyes, ouch. humanity, trains. i like trains. hah. i mean, there are some subjects that always attract me, and trains/people on/at trains is definitely one of them. very nice.

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  20. Thanks Marian, every I read you I wonder, does the girl ever miss the mark?

    The class/privilege issue is the hardest to shape and drew the least comments. The other observations are helpful and encourage me this can work. Having gotten this much feedback, I'm going to revisit the piece. I think it can breathe better. Gonna let it sit a spell. Thank you all.

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  21. I'm sorry I'm late to the party, LaTonya, but you know me, I'm all about the class struggle. I was never boarding a train for service, but rather to play in clubs, which is another type of service. Glares of old men as they deign to throw a dollar in your tip jar; sometimes a meaningful hand on the shoulder and a matchbook with a phone number on it, destined for the garbage bin. A different type of service, but really, I loved the music, so there is no way the occasional indignities could compare to the women with mops and brooms or armsful of the children of the Ladies Who Lunch.

    And don't get me started on the whole undocumented workers issue. My ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and they were illegals, too. Should have stayed that way, far as I'm concerned, considering what rich, elite white men did to this country, to indigenous people, and of course to Africans (that cruelty still being visited in oh-so-slealthy ways... like lynching empty chairs during the elections. I HATE rednecks.).

    Could go on, but your last comment nailed the part that got to me most. The irony is not surprising to me! BRILL. Amy

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  22. This moved at a good rhythm that was a bit chaotic, but that really was what this challenge was about. That chaos set a frustrated tone and what was concrete was the emotion, the writing I didn't feel was a concrete as you did, I think it moves the thought thread along at a great pace feeds the point to us in just the right manner. Great job.

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