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Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 08 Jul 2018, 23:52
by BobBradshaw
Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

As jaded as any prosecutor,
her temper often flares
around men, her voice hoarse,
like a fighter who's taken
punches to the throat.

Somehow her voice calms me.
Otherwise I'm as restless
as a flame.
Yet her mother curses me,
swears I am not good enough
for her daughter,
both of us poor as ticks.

Truthfully, I have grown tired
of this family life,
Sien and I having little
in common. To her books
are better than any lover,
a source for kindling
in winter.

My heart was once a hearth
for her, flames leaping to please.
Now it is a fire, exhausted,
like a sick dog licking
old wounds.

A sadness lives in her,
like a drafty house in winter,
to be endured as long
as possible.

She says one day strangers
will drag her muddy clothes
from the Schelde. Her heart
heavier and heavier,
pockets gathering

note: an old poem I keep playing with....

Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 11 Jul 2018, 07:47
by BobBradshaw
Removed first stanza

Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 13 Jul 2018, 00:39
by Bernie01
Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

intriguing title, but drop the name....

declarative opening is stronger without that posturing word "as"---know what i mean?

jaded as a prosecutor (Commissar),

are prosecutors---or commssars well known for being jaded?

the image of a figure sitting by a stove---not an image i associate with a fighter....

squatting by the stove,
thick and heavy,
i think of a commissar
judging a criiminal.

Her mother curses me
for being poor,
swears I am not good enough
for her daughter.

I have grown tired
of this family life,
quarrels, and angry shouts.

Books only for kindling
in winter, I slink away
hoping for a new Spring.

Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 14 Jul 2018, 02:30
by FranktheFrank
How wonderful, that nut case has been removed
after screwing up the site for days. Siva is thanking
Billy who hasn't posted for a year for a two year old
poem, how strange. Bernie too, answered a very
old poem like this one.

I think you have to have her name in the title somehow.
Sien with Cigar, would suit me, just enough to set the tone.
The full Dutch name is Geziena, they often shorten names
like the English William to Bill, Will, Willy and Billy.

I don't think of Sien as thick and heavy, Dale is enamoured
with her, he said so. I do't think sitting says enough, warming
herself maybe, after feeding the stove with books.

There is an American feel to the words, jaded, ticks and truthfully.
The same with punches to the throat, a boxing simile, doubt boxing
as we know it was in use in that time.

Maybe the mother did curse him,
I remember a painting of her sitting naked
But Vincent was never allowed to look at her then.
She's the archetypal abandoned woman, hooked
on drink and tobacco, she hated sex, yet went back to
it in despair. Vincent tried to do good by her, no doubt
enjoying a little sex, but she was badly damaged
and there was no saving her.

I would rather old fashioned language for the poem.

One poetry forum said we give harsh critique
I hope we don't, I quite like the feel of the poem
generaly, I feel you need much more detail to do
justice to the situation. Cutting to the quick is all
very well, but then it leaves so much unsaid.

best wishes with any revision.

Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 15 Jul 2018, 00:36
by BobBradshaw
Thank goodness we’re back in action...I will think about the suggestions... yes, prosecutors are often seen as jaded...

Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 16 Jul 2018, 21:58
by Bernie01

a word about poms about personalities.

mentioning a notable person does not automatically elevate the poem, writing about an unknown does not consign the poem to obscurity and failure.

what is the purpose here?

to tell me about Sien---historical rumor has her pregnant, a failed prostitute, and an eventual suicide.

yet the drawing of the title where she was the focus and model was a great success.

the concentration on the domestic squabbling makes them like a million other nondescript couples. is that what you want?

what do you want this reader to confront?


Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 16 Jul 2018, 22:39
by FranktheFrank
I don't feel the voice is of Van Gogh
He was educated, he was steeped in religion
and he wanted to save her soul
he also wanted her body
a heady mix there.
He was an intense character
odd, didn't fit in.

Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 16 Jul 2018, 23:20
by Bernie01

a little more...

Sien---who drowns herself we understand, Gauguin who also shares his little Yellow House but who leaves abruptly...all en route to a community that van Gogh held in his mind....

see the detailed biography in The New Yorker: ... -goghs-ear

an excerpt:

For van Gogh, the story ends conclusively: the Yellow House empty, the dream of community gone, the asylum’s doors the only ones open to him. He left the hospital in January and returned to the town, but his behavior was so strange that the people of Arles put together a petition to have him committed to an asylum or sent back to his family—breaking for good the vestiges of his dream of an organic rural community. Arles was as tight and closed and suspicious as any other small town.

an excerpt:

Most of all, van Gogh was in pursuit of an old romantic dream: the dream of a collaborative community. Art could be saved from mere commodity if artists lived and worked together as they once had done. The Nazarenes, a secretive sect of painters in Rome in the early nineteenth century, seem to have been the first to revive the ideal, while John Ruskin’s Guild of St. George, a pseudo-Gothic band of pseudo-Gothic Masons, became, in the eighteen-sixties, the most unintentionally comic. The Impressionists, urban painters par excellence, saw themselves at moments as a band of brothers, but theirs was an infantile form of community. Renoir and Monet played and painted side by side like two-year-olds, rather than fully engaging in a club like twelve-year-olds. The idea that van Gogh, and others of his generation, pursued was deeper: a sort of religious revival that might be found in a renewed monastic arrangement.

The vision of an ideal community runs through the letters. If we could all work together, we’d be like . . . Icelandic fishermen! Buddhist monks! Peasant craftsmen! Members of the French Foreign Legion! Not long after he arrived in Arles, he wrote to Gauguin, “I must tell you that even while working I never cease to think about this enterprise of setting up studio with yourself and me as permanent residents, but which we’d both wish to make into a shelter and a refuge for our pals at moments when they find themselves at an impasse in their struggle.”

and this:

Those early wanderings made van Gogh the most literary of all the modern painters. Fluently trilingual—in English, French, and Dutch—he read compulsively and he read everything. Maupassant, Zola, Balzac, Hugo, Flaubert: he used words as a model for picture-making. And then he is the narrator of his own condition. Twenty years’ worth of his letters, published in a spectacular illustrated six-volume edition, by Thames & Hudson, are the longest, warmest, most attentive account of an artist’s life seen from the inside that has ever been written.


Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 17 Jul 2018, 21:13
by FranktheFrank
Bob, it's your poem
glad you have changed a little
glad you stick to your guns.

Re: Sien with Cigar Sitting on the Floor near Stove

Posted: 20 Jul 2018, 22:18
by BobBradshaw
Revised, added 3 stanzas