Christmas Remembrance (revision 2)

Poets post their works-in-progress here for crit and commentary. We want poets who are serious about getting their work published.
Post Reply
Message
Author
capricorn
Posts: 303
Joined: 21 Sep 2017, 23:23

Christmas Remembrance (revision 2)

#1 Post by capricorn » 30 Nov 2019, 03:50

Christmas Gifts (revision 2)

Warmed by a familiar whiff of Rose
Eau-De-Cologne, from the perfume
counter, I remember

wondering, what shall I buy her?
Fingering a shilling in my pocket, I spot
the tiny bottle, with pink ribboned neck.

Holly print covered the newspaper
padding that made the gift look enormous.
She’ll never guess what’s inside

Awake before the sun, anticipation
churning. my hand zig-zagged down
the quilt - He’s been!

Mint humbugs and a cotton-whiskered
sugar mouse nestled in a paper bag,
a flower clip and tiny china dog, wrapped

in tissue. Tucked in the foot of the nylon
stocking, a tangerine rubbed walnut shells.
After breakfast my mother unwrapped those

umpteen layers, eyes crinkled with laughter.
As she hugged me, I inhaled the sweet
fragrance dabbed behind her ears.

Today our Christmas table is laden with turkey
dinner spread across her embroidered holly cloth
- one place now vacant.

Candles lighted, wine poured, crackers pulled
with a clap, I join the laughter until I glance
at the chipped china spaniel on the shelf.


-------------------------------------------------------------
Cut back further

Christmas Remembrance (Revision)

Squeezing through Woolworth’s crush,
I’m mesmerized by a sparkling
world of garlands, baubles and gifts.

What shall I buy her?
Fingering a shilling in my pocket, I spot
a tiny scent bottle, its neck pink ribboned.

Padded in newspaper layers, finished
with holly print and crimson string,
the gift looked enormous.

She’ll never guess what’s inside

Awake with the sun, tummy churning.
my hand zig-zagged down the quilt
searching for that familiar shape.

He’s been!

In the nylon stocking, a brown paper
bag filled with mint humbugs is topped
with a cotton whiskered sugar mouse.

Wrapped in tissue is a gaudy flower clip
and tiny china dog. Tucked in the foot
an aromatic tangerine rubs walnut shells.

I bite off the iced nose, pin the shiny daisy
to my hair and doze until breakfast.
I recall my mother unwrap those umpteen

layers, her eyes crinkled with laughter.
As she hugged me, I inhaled the sweet
fragrance dabbed behind her ears.

Today our Christmas table is laden with turkey
dinner spread across her favourite
embroidered holly cloth - her place now vacant.

Concealed beneath my smile, melancholy
surfaces, shifting to an ache, as I glance
at the chipped china spaniel on the shelf.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This was a very long poem written years ago, but I've cut it back a lot and written in tercets.


Christmas Remembrance

Christmas 1958

Squeezing through Woolworth’s crush,
I’m mesmerized by a sparkling
world of garlands, baubles and gifts.

What shall I buy her?
Fingering a shilling in my pocket, I spot
a tiny scent bottle, its neck pink ribboned.

Padded in newspaper layers, finished
with holly print and crimson string,
the gift looked enormous.

She’ll never guess what’s inside

Awake with the sun, tummy churning.
my hand zig-zagged down the quilt
searching for that familiar shape.

He’s been!

In the nylon stocking, a brown paper
bag filled with mint humbugs is topped
with a cotton whiskered sugar mouse.

Wrapped in tissue is a gaudy flower clip
and tiny china dog. Tucked in the foot
an aromatic tangerine rubs walnut shells.

I bite off the iced nose, pin
the shiny daisy to my hair
and doze until breakfast.


Present day

Crowds jostle through shops or buy online.
Shelves packed with gaudy Santa sacks
are soon filled with mobile phones, I-pads

and computer games. Chocolates galore
replace fruit and nuts. Everything’s a must have
stretching credit cards to their limit.

Warmed by a familiar whiff from the perfume
counter - Rose eau-de-cologne,
I remember my mother unwrap that present

with its umpteen layers. Laughter crinkled
her eyes as she hugged me; I inhaled the sweet
fragrance dabbed behind her ears.

Our Christmas table is laden with turkey
dinner spread across her favourite
embroidered holly cloth - her place now vacant.

Concealed beneath my smile, melancholy
surfaces, shifting to an ache, as I glance
at the chipped china spaniel on the shelf.

BobBradshaw
Posts: 1389
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Christmas Remembrance

#2 Post by BobBradshaw » 30 Nov 2019, 09:23

There’s lots of nice details here, but the present day section seems too long for maximum impact, and the 1958 section could benefit from a stronger emotional ending.... so why not combine the mother theme of the 2nd stanza into the ending of the first poem/section? Just something to think about.... again the writing is good... just maybe a bit of compression would bring more impact.

capricorn
Posts: 303
Joined: 21 Sep 2017, 23:23

Re: Christmas Remembrance

#3 Post by capricorn » 30 Nov 2019, 19:38

BobBradshaw wrote:
30 Nov 2019, 09:23
There’s lots of nice details here, but the present day section seems too long for maximum impact, and the 1958 section could benefit from a stronger emotional ending.... so why not combine the mother theme of the 2nd stanza into the ending of the first poem/section? Just something to think about.... again the writing is good... just maybe a bit of compression would bring more impact.
Thanks Bob - you are right. I have been pondering what to do next with this as I knew it wasn't quite right.
I've revised but as with all revisions it might need more nibbled away.

Eira

judyt547
Posts: 129
Joined: 17 Jan 2013, 19:46
Location: middle of the woods
Contact:

Re: Christmas Remembrance revision 1

#4 Post by judyt547 » 01 Dec 2019, 00:05

Sometimes there can be too much detail, forcing a reader to skim (as I did) and then lose
the thread of why the two parts are connected.
And sometimes too much attempt at drama, too much explanation, can spoil the actual
punch line. Your poignant remembrance gets lost in the details, like losing the diamond ring
in the wrapping paper. =)

It feels as if you're over explaining. Trust your reader to set the scene themselves.

I'd be tempted to leave out the complicated 'Woolworth" description--beyond point of place--
and start at the perfume counter (and I checked, Eau De Cologne is capitalized) and
"What shall I buy her?" can surface there.
One thing I did learn a long time ago, and it rarely fails me: a short story often relies
on details and "process" (I walked to the door and opened it") kind of stuff, as much for fill
as anything, but a poem can start smack in the middle of something, and most readers
are perfectly happy to start there. Poems are moments in time, prose pieces are more of
a passage of time. I.e., in a prose piece "she heard a knock, walked rapidly to the door
and opened it, without thinking. She was stunned by what greeted her." In a poem,
you're perfectly fine in saying, "she was stunned when she opened the door"

It can be hard to revise that sharply, but you always have the original draft, so it's not
as if you're chopping up the Christmas turkey, here. The original poem still exists.

BobBradshaw
Posts: 1389
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Christmas Remembrance revision 1

#5 Post by BobBradshaw » 01 Dec 2019, 05:15

This is much better! I like how you have folded the mother piece into the bigger cloth here. "unwrap" should probably be "unwrapping"....Judy makes some good points to consider. The last stanza is too telling, and the poem loses its chance for a big impact. Look to redo that stanza, bringing an emotional force through images or actions. This poem is close. It will be a gem when finished....

judyt547
Posts: 129
Joined: 17 Jan 2013, 19:46
Location: middle of the woods
Contact:

Re: Christmas Remembrance revision 1

#6 Post by judyt547 » 01 Dec 2019, 17:16

It's better, could be better still. Don't be afraid to hack and slash, either. You've always got your first (and second and third...)
draft to go back to. I've written poems that went through twenty or thirty serious revisions, over a month of steady work...

Again, I'll drag out Frost's "Stopping by Woods". Notice, he doesn't describe the horse, the wagon, or even why he's out that late
or where he's headed. Only that he's there, in that moment. You see the trees, and the snow, precisely because he mentions
them, but he lets you fill in the visuals. your trees, your version of snow. He forces the reader to fill in the substantial blanks,
and I suspect there have been heated arguments about all of it ever since. No one ever realizes just how much work they are
expected to do, when they read that poem. =)

It can be very hard to keep a poem simple.

I'd eliminate that first stanza entirely. Change the title to suggest "mother's christmas present" and work from that. Ask yourself,
what does the reader have to know, and what is just fill? Lighten up on the descriptive words like sparkly, shiny, gaudy. Try
this: write one draft and ruthlessly eliminate every adverb, every descriptive phrase, just put down the bare bones. See how it
reads. THEN you add back what you think is necessary.

capricorn
Posts: 303
Joined: 21 Sep 2017, 23:23

Re: Christmas Remembrance revision 1

#7 Post by capricorn » 02 Dec 2019, 04:37

BobBradshaw wrote:
01 Dec 2019, 05:15
This is much better! I like how you have folded the mother piece into the bigger cloth here. "unwrap" should probably be "unwrapping"....Judy makes some good points to consider. The last stanza is too telling, and the poem loses its chance for a big impact. Look to redo that stanza, bringing an emotional force through images or actions. This poem is close. It will be a gem when finished....
Thanks Bob, I always appreciate your encouragement.
I have made more changes thanks to your suggestions and Judy's, hopefully improvements. I'm still thinking on certain areas.
Eira

capricorn
Posts: 303
Joined: 21 Sep 2017, 23:23

Re: Christmas Remembrance (revision 2)

#8 Post by capricorn » 02 Dec 2019, 04:48

Thank you for your advice, Judy. I am with you on revision and often do many revisions until I'm satisfied (if ever!) Some of my best poems, I've worked on for months/years.
I don't think a cut right back then put some back approach really suits me, I prefer to keep chipping away. I've finished a second revision, but am still considering some lines
Eira

BobBradshaw
Posts: 1389
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Christmas Remembrance (revision 2)

#9 Post by BobBradshaw » 02 Dec 2019, 06:16

The ending is much better...I like how the last 2 stanzas bring this poem to its close

judyt547
Posts: 129
Joined: 17 Jan 2013, 19:46
Location: middle of the woods
Contact:

Re: Christmas Remembrance (revision 2)

#10 Post by judyt547 » 02 Dec 2019, 06:46

This one, capricorn, made me smile. Sometimes, less is more, and this is definitely more. And the ending lets us enter the poem and think, ohhh. of course.

BobBradshaw
Posts: 1389
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: Christmas Remembrance (revision 2)

#11 Post by BobBradshaw » 04 Dec 2019, 02:25

Lovely! Post your poem at writer’s palaver....Michael has nominated it

capricorn
Posts: 303
Joined: 21 Sep 2017, 23:23

Re: Christmas Remembrance (revision 2)

#12 Post by capricorn » 04 Dec 2019, 03:58

Thank you Bob and Judy for your help with this one and thanks Michael for the nomination.

Eira

Post Reply

Return to “Writer's Block - Where The Poets Hang”