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badger11

Sapper

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badger11

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An idle lad kicking a can
along the lane that afternoon
unnerved him. When in doubt,
garden
, she'd said. And so he did.

Dug up a field, a pride of poppies.
Spade work - he had the knack for it.
The joy of labour sweated his ghosts
until the mind hum bothered him not.

original

An idle lad kicking a can
along the lane that afternoon
unnerved him. When in doubt,
garden
, she'd said. And so he did.

Dug up a field, a pride of poppies.
Spade work - he had the knack for it.
The joy of labour sweated his night
until the mind hum bothered him not.

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Tinker

Hi Badge,   This easy flowing piece felt good to read.   I loved the sounds lad - along- lane .  The word choice "lad" took me back in time.  It isn't a word commonly heard here unless in a period movie.    

I momentarily wondered about his doubts or worries that he was sweating out in his labor but more, empathized with his choice to work them out in the soil.   I just came in from planting a bit.  For some reason the morning just feels  best when I go into my garden and do something.  Even if it is just to walk around with cup of coffee in hand and talk to my plants with my kitty following me like a puppy dog.   Preparation to handle whatever may come my way in the day.

Thanks for this lovely morning greeting.

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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tonyv

When I began to read the poem, I presumed that the man is cantankerous and that the woman is merely his hopeful live and let live influence. After all, I, myself, get irritated when people do dumbass things like kick cans and make unnecessary, pointless, offensive noises. When I got to the last line, I considered the possibility that the man has a neurodegenerative disease or a touch of mental illness. In any case, this short poem is well-composed and shows a lot.

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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badger11

Hi Tony and Tink,

                       I pictured a war veteran - the reference to the 'poppies' - with PTSD. I tried to write a poem about the positives of gardening, but this is the outcome!

 

Quote

I loved the sounds lad - along- lane .  The word choice "lad" took me back in time.  It isn't a word commonly heard here unless in a period movie.

Pleased the sonics worked there. lad is commonly used in Wales😀

Quote

I presumed that the man is cantankerous and that the woman is merely his hopeful live and let live influence.

I did consider nurse/vicar, but I didn't want the simplicities associated with those labels.

Thanks both

best

Phil

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tonyv
17 hours ago, badger11 said:

I pictured a war veteran - the reference to the 'poppies' - with PTSD.

Perhaps a change in title would make that more clear. Maybe something like "Coming Home" or "Back Home" -- well, something to differentiate between the war and home.

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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badger11

Thanks Tony for returning and prompt. I've tweaked a word and changed the title.

cheers

Phil

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dcmarti1

"sweated his ghosts"

Gentle, yet brilliant AND disturbing. Well, maybe unsettling. Definitely moving.

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badger11

Thanks Marti. Like how you've keyed into this write. Much appreciated.

Phil

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David W. Parsley

Yes, indeed, that change took the poem to a whole new level.

On ‎6‎/‎25‎/‎2019 at 3:21 AM, dcmarti1 said:

"sweated his ghosts"

Gentle, yet brilliant AND disturbing. Well, maybe unsettling. Definitely moving.

As with many of your works, Phil, there is a whole lot more going on here than casual inspection might indicate.  According to one dictionary, a sapper is "a soldier responsible for tasks such as building and repairing roads and bridges, laying and clearing mines, etc."  This sapper is not building or even repairing; he is clearing, applying his spade to a veritable Flanders Field of private pain and recurrent trauma.  The pride of poppies could just as well be a pride of pacing lions.  Much is left unsaid here.  Unheard melodies slide a perilous undertow just below the surface of this piece.  And that is its secret power.

On ‎6‎/‎23‎/‎2019 at 8:30 AM, Tinker said:

Hi Badge,   This easy flowing piece felt good to read.   I loved the sounds lad - along- lane .  The word choice "lad" took me back in time.  It isn't a word commonly heard here unless in a period movie.    
...

~~Tink

That said, the undertow does nothing to diminish the vicarious pleasure of working the earth, as Tink observes.  By grounding the act in a body of personal trauma, it offsets the inherent beauty, satisfaction, and simplicity, as a black cloth may be used to display a gem to best advantage.  Activity and context work together to evoke a uniquely tangible experience.

I know you too well to think that the opening and closing anachronisms are accidental.  At least here in the States, "idle lad" is quite dated.  As Tink observes that brings a sense of nostalgia, and it might be your own way of clueing us in to the generation of this particular sapper.  Perhaps that is the same for the phrase, "bothered him not"?  This input of mine may be a product of not being familiar with the idiom of a class and generation with which UK folks would be very familiar.  I mention this pair of quibbles (or just observations - use as you see fit) only because of the potential legacy value of the poem.  I like it a lot!

Cheers,

 - Dave

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badger11

As usual Dave, your sensitive and empathetic read motivates me to write. The idiom does reflect class and locality. The latter I found particularly fascinating because I wasn't aware that 'lad' was British English (used by all generations).

 

Quote

The pride of poppies could just as well be a pride of pacing lionsMuch is left unsaid here.  Unheard melodies slide a perilous undertow just below the surface of this piece.

Love that analogy. I attempt clarity rather than complexity, though I do struggle, but I do believe in layering. Yes, undertow frames the aesthetic! Thanks for that.

all the best

Phil

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David W. Parsley

I just keep coming back to this poem, whether I am on the site or not.  It haunts me.  I can't help seeing the sapper with his poppies and his ghosts, feel down from the arms and hands through the spade probing that underspoken undertow with all its peril and hope for catharsis.  I don't have one yet, but this will surely result in a responding poem(s) of my own.

 - Dave

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