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Featured Guest Poet
Monique Buchberger

Apres La Guerre

(After the War)

Apres la guerre....
I heard them say it often.
We had so little food
Mama walked for miles to find
half rotten carrots left to spoil
on wet sidewalks outside the bistro
She mashed them in fatty chicken broth with
one potato.
Hot and salty---it was good!
And then Tatie carried in the hot bricks
wrapping them in old towels.
And there we sat around the kitchen table,
the soiled tablecloth with wishered roses on it
draped down around our knees.
The bricks under our feet sent swirls of heat
around our towes and up our legs.
Our fingers hugged the bowls of soup and Tatie
slirped with great gusto and sniffed
as beads of steam misted her cracked and wrinkled face.
The rain came and then the snow.
Cold slipped and slid in through the broken windows.
Hearts hungered for days of sunshine,
large chunks of cheese and sausage on
crusty warm bread with butter from the farms.
Apres la guerre, we hoped, we sent our prayers
towards heaven as we lit candles in the old church.
Joseph never came home.

July, 2001

Monique Buchberger's Questions:

I would appreciate havin the following questions addressed about my poem:

1. What feedback would you give me about the structure?

2. What are the positive aspects of this poem.

3. What do I need to change or improve?

Monique, This poem is quite moving, both in its vivid picture of the family suffering in the city, and in its startling ending. The structure suits it well, though I think it might be better if there were more of a hint early in the poem that Joseph is off in the fighting. Maybe having the prayers and candles near the start. Not to soften the ending, but to heighten the poem's tension and take it in a new direction. I'm assuming your indentations indicate continuation of long lines, rather than new shorter lines. The long lines and wide variation of line length work pretty well, somewhat to my surprise. Maybe it works because you've got them packed with strong images. Other positive aspects are how it relies almost completely on "show, don't tell," and what I feel as a steadily increasing intensity as the picture is completed. I would change "Hearts hungered" to a more consistent metaphor. I'd also eliminate some words that don't add much, like "and then" and "and there." You might also try to eliminate the first three lines, which don't have the great imagery of the rest of the poem. It might work without them if you changed the title to something like "They often said 'Apres La Guerre…'" This is fine work! Audrey
Audrey Eloranta
USA - Tue Aug 7 21:58:35 2001

Monique, overall i liked this very much for its' obvious realism. The way it simply states the conditions and then sprinkles in some great images. I, unlike the other comment, liked the solitary movement of the last stanza on Joseph because it drew me to the begining again to see if i hadn't missed something and i had...the ultimate reality of the aftermath, the dead. i think that is a strong point here, in that i am kept in the present struggle for life, while ignoring the more obvious, the loss. Great Piece!
Fergus Falls, MN USA - Tue Aug 14 17:30:41 2001

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