This reminds me of a lot of things but the strongest image is of a Diane Arbus photograph, not any specific photo but an amalgam of her odd images. This couple are exactly the kind of people she would have been drawn to, a little not quite right; the baby too. Comedy tends to involve movement, if only the mouth, and so ‘comically still’ feels oxymoronic even though it’s not: seaside postcards can be funny and that’s another thing I found myself thinking of; perhaps it was the mention of the ‘zigzag of flags’ – an excellent description on several levels. They have stopped but have they stopped? Perhaps they have just paused while a photo is snapped (you mention ‘picture’) or a well-wisher stick her head into the pram to see what the little one looks like. Perhaps the ‘paused pram’ might work better, sonically at least. I like the description of the parents – him especially (perhaps you saw the documentary about Gormley that was on last week) – but her too although I’d be tempted to look again at her line.I’m not crazy about the last three lines, at least I’m not crazy about the sentence. You’ve talked about the child, the mother, the father and now without mentioning that you’ve changed the focal point again you reference the child again. It’s obvious I agree but, for me, it needs something else, something like: Under this zigzag of flags cutting up the sky, and with a face only a mother could love, her child lies dreaming: she loves it, she loves it not, she loves it, she loves it not.It’s not perfect but it illustrates where the gap is and what kind of filler it needs.On the whole I think this has the makings of a very good poem, the kind of poem I wish I’d written myself and I can’t say fairer than that.
thanks, jim, you've given me a lot to think about here. yes! the image in my head was like a Diane Arbus shot! the poem was based on a dream I had about a very nice family that I know, one of those innocuous but vivid dreams that I thought had really happened when I woke up. I forgot about the Gormley programme, I noticed it on iplayer and meant to watch it, hopefully it's still available.
Like that last line. Works well.x
Liked it very much. Only line I'd query isand with a face only a mother could love, as it does not have the oblique approach/tone of the rest. And yes, great last line!
thanks for that, titus!
for me there's not too much comical about dead things be they shrews or babies. i've seen more dead babies than shrews so it's an image that sits ill with me.gormley statue? feels like rather than making your own image you took someone else's and allow it to speak for you.'only a mother could love' is too much of a cliche for me.the last line tho, that was a total winner. i'm with rachel on that one.
I too found the 'Gormley statue' out of place/awkward somehow. Wouldn't have mentioned it if it was just me but seeing as Swiss says it too then maybe there is something that could be better/altered there.Your last line made me think of "We need to talk about Kevin" (depressing but very good book!).x
thanks for your thoughts, rachel and swiss!
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