Featured Guest Poet
Having managed not to stir sleeping children
as I labored to bear his weight,
stumbled down the dark hallway
to the bedroom where exhausted
I've slipped thin fingers
under the coarse laces of his boots
showers of dirt falling to the carpet
as I pulled them from his feet.
Having hushed him as he mumbled promises and curses
to people only he can see,
left him swaddled in a blue blanket
alcohol oozing from his pores
thin sheets taking on the stench of whiskey
I press bare knees into cold tile,
and begin scrubbing circles over vomit strewn floors.
Bridget Gage-Dixon's Questions:
In this poem I am concerned with using the word "having" to create the
buildup to the final point.
I would like impressions on the use of the word swaddled, which I have debated with myself. I am concerned mostly with the flow, it feels a bit awkward to me and I would love ideas on how to improve it.
This is both sad and lovely. You manage a scene that doubtless has been repeated many times in households across America.
Most of this works well, but you get too heavy handed at the end. Learn the power of suggestion, rather than direct statement.
Here's a few suggestions.
Start line three with the word "we." Period instead of a comma after collapsed.
Place a comma or double dash after "boots" in the next line.
Place the pronoun "I" at the beginning of line 12.
Change the next line to read "his blue blanket of alcohol." (Cut "oozing from his pores") and put a period after alcohol.
Next line, change "taking" to "take."
Start line fifteen with the word "as."
Others may like it, but I'd take out "vomit-strewn." In its place, substitute the word "the."
For me, the poem has already said enough of a wife's agonies of having to deal
with an alcoholic husband without the vomit image.
This is good writing from the heart, good witnessing in straightforward language.
USA - Mon Oct 23 16:36:46 2000
Bridget, A heartfelt, very sad poem. I think you well depict what happens in theis household and what the protagonist has to endure without melodramatic tones. As to your questions, I am not sure the -having ... help much. I found it too heavy after the first. Actually, what I am suggesting, is to drop it after the first and pass tothe use of the present tense. This would also imply the "event" is not an incident, but a painful routine. Family Portrait Having managed not to stir sleeping children as I labored ( labour)to bear his weight,(,) ( we)stumble[d] down the dark hallway to the bedroom where(,) exhausted(,) he's collapsed, ( he collapses) I've slipped thin fingers under the coarse laces of his boots (--) showers of dirt fall[ing]to the carpet as I pull[ed ]them from his feet. Having hushed ( I hush) him as he mumble(s)d promises and curses to people only he can see,( .) (I Leave)left him swaddled in a blue blanket (of)alcohol [oozing from his pores](.) (T)thin sheets tak(e)ing on the stench [of whiskey] I press bare knees into cold tile, and begin scrubbing circles .[over vomit strewn floors.] I find this poem touching, with distressing resignation and no accusatory tone. Thank you. Paula
Italy - Thu Nov 9 13:56:19 2000