Thursday, August 4, 2011

55 - what remains



atop a mid-town hill, where the children lay,
stands an old oak tree, upon which a roped swing
continually sways
i come here for peace & to hear them sing
then match the sway of their empty swing

when the sun sleeps, i hum their refrain
& take my leave through their granited names

Tell a story in 55 words. Give it a try or just read more, go see g-man.

Over at d'Verse, it is time for Matting the Bar: Crit and Craft, where Luke Prater is teaching on trimming the fat from your poetry. Redundancy. Over use of adjectives. And much more. Or maybe it is more appropriate to say much less.

Also submitted to Poetry Jam.

110 comments:

Ruthiey said...

first comment! Wow, the words with the picture just made me pause and ponder. beautiful.

Ed Pilolla said...

when the sun sleeps made me exhale.

Pat Hatt said...

Yes much can be said with less
The cat tends to yap too much I can confess
But you just prove
That with less words one can still sway and move
The images into the readers mind
And that is all from my behind

Maggie May said...

*Their granited names*....
Those words seemed very powerful.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Aida Bode said...

So much peace in these verses, Brian! 55 looks like a vacation. I think I'll be humming the same tune as soon as I get to my swing :)
(Can you change the symbols for words? It's like they stop the swinging - just a wee bit)

Daniel said...

You can look at something like this and find beauty. I tend to turn my head and block out all thoughts.

Natasha said...

55words or less...don't think I could do it! Critic you? Don't think I could do that either! :) Sorry, just an appreciator of words, and as you know, you top my list of favorites. I am considering applying the less is more approach to comments however, starting tomorrow!:) Swing away...swing away!

Titanium said...

You always manage to pack fifty five words full of sights and sounds that defy limitations.

Prater's piece is perfectly timed and fantastically well-written.

Claudia said...

so you were at the cemetery...i love swings..i tell you, i never grow up..smiles

love the rhymes in this piece brian - they underline the back and forth of the swing and make the 55 sound very musical..

atop a mid-town hill, where the children lay,
stands an old oak tree, upon which a roped swing
continually sways (first i thought this sounds a bit circuitous..but it also has this circle feeling of the swing - so i think it fits nicely)
i come here for peace & to hear them sing
then match the sway of their empty swing (made me swallow...)

when the sun sleeps, i hum their refrain
& take my leave through their granited names (love the closure)

Sue said...

poignant and lovely

=)

Bonnie said...

"....to hear them sing..." - haunting brian.

Betty said...

'...granited names...'
nice

Magpie said...

Ah, this is the place you were talking to Steve about! :)
Have you ever read any of Daniel Woodrell's books?

Barbara Shallue said...

haunting in a beautiful way!

Christi Moon said...

this gave me chills. so hauntingly beautiful Brian!

Carys said...

I recently read, and watched, The Lovely Bones and your piece immediately made me think of that. Something so poignant about an empty swing and placed within this piece it's a very powerful image.

Tara Miller said...

this has a very peaceful tone but sad that these children won't swing on this swing....

kaykuala said...

To be with kids is already an occasion and to hear them sing is a melody! You have said it rightly so!

Heather said...

graveyards can be a peaceful place to visit...

Vicki Lane said...

Terse and true.

Janice said...

Mmmm. Wonderfully put together. That captivating photo really sets the tone of the piece.

Daydreamertoo said...

Oh, I love sitting on a swing and just gently kicking back and forth to get the sway.
Lovely!

beckykilsby said...

I have very mixed feelings when I read this one Brian.. I agree economy is a great prompt and you have built what seems a very complex atmosphere in few words.. discomfiting place... and part of that for me stems from the delayed rhyme near the beginning...keeps the swing swinging.. haunting ... not peaceful though..

wolfsrosebud said...

Death of a child is a difficult thing. I believe you've captured that in the tone of your piece. At first read, it would have been nice for the poem to continue (I do understand the 55 word limit); but then realized a child's death comes quickly and their lives are short just like your poem.

nance marie said...

i can feel this one.

Luke Prater said...

Haunting, yes. Quite a tale you tell is so few words. Favourite line is 'match the sway of their empty swing' - the alliteration and end-rhyme with 'sing' makes this very poetic. Assuming you don't need to stick to 55 words for the crit exercise, I think there is some that can be trimmed here and some that may need rephrasing for the sake of using less well-worn phrasing perhaps.

atop a mid-town hill, where the children lay,
stands an old oak tree; [upon which] a roped swing
continually sways

>'old oak tree' is pretty stock-phrased to my mind; I wonder of there's another way to write that? Or a different variety of tree? Does the tree have to be 'old'? It's the combination of 'old' and 'oak' that's problematic IMHO.

i come here for peace & to hear them sing
then match the sway of their empty swing

>not keen on the use of ampersand (&) for 'and'; writing it out properly always looks better in my opinion, like numbers too.

when the sun sleeps, [i] hum their refrain
& take my leave through their granited names

>'granited' - not sure poetic license of using 'granite' as verb is working for me here. 'granite names' would be stronger to my eye, but this is merely my opinion, as is the rest.

An arresting, poignant piece that really catches the reader. Notable in particular for one so short. Great poem dude.

hedgewitch said...

Thought I left a comment earlier but don't see one so let me try again--this one is almost cinematic, in slo-mo, with a vibe to it that you can almost hear--the wind, children's voices far away, etc...amazing how much mood you created here in 55, but amazing me is what you always do.

UmaAnandane said...

Haunting and true words.Redundant 55

Victoria said...

I wish I'd commented first so I could be original with the words "haunting and poignant." I experienced a certain gentleness that you created through the soft alliterative flow of the piece. No suggestions from moi, Brian.

Beachanny said...

Hi Brian - Wow, mustering my courage today to say anything about yours and Luke's poems. Still learning how to do this "crit" stuff but think it's important to learn how to do.

When anything is as tight as this is, it's difficult to do anything but praise the tautness and conciseness that always marks your work. You always manage to put the reader right in the place and mindset of your poems.

If I had anything to add to Luke's explication it would be a couple of suggestions (dare I?)

You could use weeping willow for the tree & it would add to the grieving aspect and the musicality of the piece. But if you want the punch of a surprise at the end, maybe not.

I can't determine how much we are meant to deduce from "where the children lay" - I thought right away they were in a cemetery, but upon reflection realized they could simply be napping???

Also instead of coming "for peace and to hear" - the word "harmony" might tie the two. May not be precisely the right word; yet, I think there is one word that would musically tie those two thoughts.

I think it's your poem and it's a very good one and niggling about it is probably just "wrong". All smiles.

Tom Eliot said...

Hi Brian

As always you deliver some interesting work in a distinctive style,that promotes discipline and effeciany without trimming emotional content. A fine example in my humble opinion.
I shall attempt a 55'er it would be good for me.
Thanks for another great night at dverse

Kim Nelson said...

A sense-stimulating piece. Visual, auditory, kinetic. I like that. The spareness lends to clarity. Cannot think of a crit. Well done.

lime said...

55 is a great exercise in economy isn't it? really making each word count. yours always pack a punch and this one took my breath away. you took me to that cemetery and even the rhythm matched the swinging.

Pastor Sharon said...

lovely, peace in the cemetery.

G-Man said...

Haunting refrain Son...
Beautiful rhythm, and quiet.
Loved your 55.
Thanks for playing, and have a Kick Ass Week-End...G

Heaven said...

well the crit have said their piece, all i can say is that i like it. i had to read it again to pick up the clues of the place.. empty swing caught my eye.

thanks for your inputs in my post..my edited post really looks good ~

a good night for D'verse ~

ayala said...

I would not change a thing. Beautiful.

Janna said...

"Granited names" was what finally made me realize...
Wow.
Then I went back and re-read it, and it all made sense.

Really good.

Thanks for another Friday 55!
Mine's here. :)

Alice Audrey said...

This is actually a little creepy. Just saying.

- Alice

Mary said...

Depthful, Brian. Really depthful. Those "granited names"
give me a pause.

Sheila Moore said...

I enjoyed the flow and slow feel of this as others have mentioned. a significant change from your usual whirl-wind jammin' beats of choatic brilliance but refreshing nonetheless (smiles)

Betsy said...

brilliant.

nothing is more peaceful than a cemetery..or more sobering.

5thsister said...

I sighed as I read this piece...then I sighed again as I read the critiques...

You have a wonderful following of very creative people. One can't help but learn when surrounded by such talent. I hope to eventually be able write with finesse like you and your friends as I continue this blogging journey.

tracy said...

I think you said it just right, Brian.

Mijayami said...

I like this very much. For some reason - perhaps the title - it reminded me of the song "Nothing" by David J & Rene Halkett. (You can find it HERE )

KB and Whitesnake said...

Beautiful. I love to sit on swings too.

lori said...

So, this was peaceful. I've read it more than once now. Favorite line is, "then match the sway of their empty swing." - great line.

I am no one to tell you anything at all, but I have to say that 'granited' stuck out to me. I kind of got hung up on it a little. I would like the flow of granite better. Know that I very much dislike saying this to you, so I'll cower down and leave quietly now.

And, even if you prefer 'granited', I'll still think you and your poetry are awesome.

Margie said...

Beautiful, sad, haunting and lovely!
This one touched my heart very much!
Your words can do that!
Thanks, Brian ...

anointedruins said...

Brian, incredibly sad and beautiful.

I don't know if "continually sways" really captures what you want to convey in S1-L3. If we can imagine that the swing is grieving, how would you describe its pose, attitude, or movement?

It took me a couple of readings to understand exactly what was atop this mid-town hill. Very affecting!

David

marousia said...

Strong imagery - IMHO you could try 'elm'- which will let you keep 'an' - the elm could even be old :) I like 'granited' but that is merely my opinion - I really like this poem as it stands as well.

MomsJournal said...

:( Very sad yet done so sweetly

Cad said...

Swinging!

Teri said...

Such a sad commentary. It feels so lonely, so empty. That swing just swinging with no one sitting in it. You paint with words Brian.

anthonynorth said...

Beautiful words, as always.

Poetic Soul said...

I wish I could bottle your talent, ok maybe steal it;-)

adeeyoyo said...

Is this the site of a memorial where children were killed in an accident? Aeroplane, bus crash? Sad... I love it.

SueAnn said...

Soothing and ethereal words!! Wow!
Hugs
SueAnn

Valerie said...

Poetically sad. I liked the lilt and the expression granited names.

tony said...

Every Swing Leaves It's Trace.......

Vodka Logic said...

Love it.. reminds me of the swing at my grandmas house.

Thanks

Nessa said...

A very bitter sweet 55 poem today. I have missed reading the lyrics you pen.

Brian Miller said...

this is on the hill at the city cemetery...the swing is part of the childrens section and is probably the most peaceful place there witha great view as it overlooks everything else...

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

What lovely, endearing prose Brian. It give a feeling of melancholy. And I loved it.

Happy Friday to you. Thank you for dropping by today. Your visit was a special treat for me.

RAIN SCENTS

Celestial Dreamz said...

you are amazing here ... so much conveyed in such less words .... I always feel too lazy to try out 55 and 160 etc .... but if I ever then you would be my inspiration :)

izzy said...

Wooden seat, a tire- or a hammock
I'll take it! Lullaby-or harmonica
is fine, thanks!

Suz said...

oh my goodness, I can't believe it was about graves..as I first thought then dismissed...Loved the cadence of
this poem

AmyLK said...

Lovely way to think of a summer day.

brenda w said...

Sad and lovely.... The quiet of cemeteries is comforting.

Steve E said...

I like cemeteries also--or did I tell you that?--grin! Did not know there were special ones for children, or did you conjure that, Brian. Brian? (Wanted to install a bit of redundancy.)

I sat with you there until sundown. Quiet, at peace.

RNSANE said...

The picture and verse brought back so many childhood memories. Beautiful, Brian!

My 55 is at:

http://rnsane.blogspot.com/2011/08/friday-flash-55-vanished-in-venice.html#links

Hope your weekend is filled with bliss, whatever that is for you!

Sh@s said...

Sad and haunting.

moondustwriter said...

the swing - never gets old even when time gets away from us

Happy Friday Bri

ladyfi said...

Ah - lovely, rhymic - capturing the fun of the childhood swing!

trisha said...

this was painful brian. splendidly written.

Nara Malone said...

Sadly beautiful. You've definitely nailed the "less is more".

blueviolet said...

I like the peacefulness of this one.

Belinda said...

This put me in a melancholy mood adn yet there's something peaceful about it.

darkangelwrites said...

Sad, haunting and something else. Surely its not sweet?

Isabel said...

this is just beautifully written. love love love it. btw, the new post for thinking of them thursdays is up - just in case you want to add something. here's the link- http://thesilenceoftheday.blogspot.com/2011/08/thinking-of-them-thursday-week-8.html

hope said...

I don't think you ever get too old for swings. :)

haikulovesongs said...

"...where the children lay,"

i had to stop reading and start breathing again ~ such heart breaking words, Brian. no one can write in 55 words the way you do! {or 160 characters or 5000 words}

happygirl said...

I still love to swing. *on a swing. ;)

dverse link didn't work. :(

Fred said...

I've been saying this for a long time, you get the most out of every word you use. No different here, great piece Brian. Love the rhyme sprinkled throughout this one too

Laurie Kolp said...

Brian- Hmm... I love it!

I liked the idea of a weeping willow as the tree and maybe "take my leave in granited names" would be something to think about even though it's fabulous as is, as always.

Stacy Uncorked said...

I need to get over here more often - as always your beautiful words always move me. ;)

sm said...

small yet powerful

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Yes, a piece with impact for sure. The empty swing is a telling image and using that photo is a stroke of genius!

I'm pedantic and probably old-fashioned by now, but I still hear 'lay' as the past tense of 'lie' (or else something to do with eggs). I know usage changes language and I can see this one coming into the dictionaries any minute now, if it's not there already - but I still cringe at it. Would it hurt to say 'the children lie'? (Yes it would; it would hurt the rhyme. So change the rhyme, I'd say, and thereby also avoid repetition of 'sway'.)

Instead of 'atop', I'd use the simpler 'on' which it seems to me is also better for the rhythm.

And I agree with the comment that 'granite' would be stronger than your coined word, 'granited'.

Despite these actually quite minor quibbles, I think you've created a wonderful piece of writing quite apart from the 55 words prompt — and you've accomplished that brilliantly, too.

Karen said...

Nice. See, I trimmed the fat from that!

ScottF said...

man, that's beautiful Brian, you're a real craftsman!

signed...bkm said...

graves are always haunting...but when they are of children even more so....you conveyed that very well...bkm

waysidewordgarden said...

Love the title of this piece, it pulled me in immediately, and the photo, too... this is a sad but beautiful piece of writing.

The only thing that I can say is that I felt "granite" might be just as strong as "granited" and may flow better. "Granited" did distract me. I love the rest.

But either way, you've done an amazing write in 55 words. Writing more with less is a skill, and it's something I think I should start practicing and learning! :)

Lydia said...

Holy shmoly, but this is chillingly beautiful. I have little goosebumps. Just last night when we walked our dogs around the middle school near our home we stopped to really admire the oldest oak tree on the land there. It is 300+ years old, and yards from the back of the school. It is the grand-daddy of oaks for miles around and I take it for granted most evening walks, but not last night. Long may it stand.
Long may you write.

mjshorts said...

Amazing what some people are able to say in just 55 words. A very poignant poem and a great read.
Thanks

Rebecca S. said...

That is just, simply, beautiful.

gautami tripathy said...

Took me back into time...


other shoe

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gautami tripathy said...
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Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Another good and concise tale.

Caty said...

Did you take that picture? That's a great shot! and your words made it even better :)

twinkly sparkles said...

I like this very much--the sound matches the meaning and isn't that as good as it gets in poems? Very lovely. Thank you.

Olivia said...

SIGH!!!!!
You were in a cemetery, right?
Never walked in one..

I loved how you captured the stillness, the sway and the emotions..

Sunday hugs xox

butterfly2cocoon said...

"stands an old oak tree, upon which a roped swing
continually sways"

Upon reading and re-reading the "roped swing" I keep getting chills.

beautiful.

Duane Scott said...

I. Love. This.

secret agent woman said...

here is nothing quite so poignant as a child's grave.

NanU said...

Simply lovely.
The next time I play on the swings at the park, it won't be the same.

Peter Goulding said...

Very powerful, Brian. Bit confused about 'lay' - should it be 'lie'? Or am I missing something? But top notch, as usual.

Enchanted Oak said...

Dead bodies are called "remains" and the poem takes place amid the remains of children. Was that in your mind as you titled the piece? Just saying'... :)

Goofball said...

a child cimetary...that's so emotional

Myrna R. said...

Short, powerful and sad. It's amazing what you express in so few words.

Syd said...

Nice. I like old swings hung from trees.