Thursday, April 26, 2012

congressional acts & fiscal responsibility

graffiti'd street sign

i watch her cross the parking lot
only a bit older from when i knew her,
the way she preened for boys,
always looking for her daddy, mama's
beauty queen & promise to be
more than the less than of their present
                      reality---

has it really been five years?
she's probably graduating high school this year,
a senior or junior--i remember

how her mother called it cute as she flounced,
draping boys like a table cloth, just waiting
for a drip to slip the lip & stain---

passing within twenty feet, they don't see me
their eyes measuring each step, hand
upon the roundness of her belly, more watermelon
than the girl i once knew, full with seed

     summer days, as kids, my cousins & i'd see
     who spit them the furthest, pink flesh so cold
     our teeth would hurt---laugh
     as juice ran down our chins---wonder
     if any would take & dream of watermelon
     vines sur-rounding our houses

her mother opens the clinic door, they disappear-
ing inside, boys now as absent as a ring
on her finger, at work, i hope, trading hours
for responsibility / currency

---we spit like seed, without a care,
wondering where all the watermelons came from,
vines blocking sun from both our Houses

Today at dVerse Poets, Victoria has us focusing on allegory for Meeting the Bar. Doors open at 3 pm DST.

The story is true, but I tried to use it to represent something more. She is a girl from a youth group I ran a few years ago. Last time we were in Maryland, I watched her and her mother heading into the clinic. Have tried to write about it a few times but it never really worked. Underneath it all is a political poem, veiled a bit.


It is part of my his-story as well, so slinging it into Poetry Jam, as well.

90 comments:

Sue said...

I like it, Brian. And I've seen this theme before in your writing...

My favorite line was this:

"more than the less than of their present
reality---"

=)

hedgewitch said...

Yes, I see a little politics in the final verse--but I can't invest the acts of the House/Senate with any of the watermelon seed of life...just noxious weeds--though I admit they are all off into the vines of green(cash.) For the girl, I'm sure it's a hard situation--and that middle stanza 'how her mother called it cute'--reveals how easy it is to abdicate responsibility.

manicddaily said...

I don't know about the politics--but I think it's a wonderful piece. (When I say I don't know about the politics--just mean that that part is pretty subtle.)

But the piece itself, subtle too, is quite wonderful, even if just looked at in terms of childhood and seeds and disappointment and lack of helpful expectations etc. I love the girl as tablecloth--that is a truly wonderful metaphor--hope all will be okay with her--so hard. k.

chromapoesy.com said...

You use the watermelon in all its stages to great effect here. I was especially struck by the vines surrounding/suffocating.

chromapoesy.com said...

You use the watermelon in all its stages to great effect here. I was especially struck by the vines surrounding/suffocating.

Daydreamertoo said...

I read a quote on FB yesterday, it said: "If you're not prepared to make her a 'wife' then, don't make her a 'mother'
How apt. How sad. As Chloe is 16 now I keep telling her there is absolutely never any reason as to why any girl should fall pregnant anymore. Yes, there is a lot of poetry in the depths of this Brian.
Never did spit to see who could win how far it would go though...lol

Tabor said...

Nicely done. I like the way the common watermelon image has been brought to 'full fruit' in this.

Laurie Kolp said...

When I taught 2nd grade, we had a watermelon seed spitting contest the last week of school... brings back good memories.

And yes, this is a strong piece... I get it.

Helen said...

You did a masterful job of 'weaving' me in and out of the poem, the stories. I loved it.

Chantel said...

The doorsways that we pass through, the ones we see others choose. They alter the world, don't they? This made me ache a bit...

Beautiful, in a tragic loss of innocence way.

Claudia said...

this is a strong piece brian...sad reality and my heart aches for her as she's a victim in many ways..esp. the always looking for her dad..in the wrong place and in the wrong way and if no one cuts that rope, the story will continue..hopefully some of the seed you planted while leading the youth group will start growing..love the watermelon images use and we should be careful what seed we spit around..so carelessly at times..but there will always grow sth. from it..good or bad..so..yep..really well done sir

kaykuala said...

Adapting a watermelon to a girl in adolescence is a classic play on character building. I sense the girl may have taken a wrong step and the mother was trying her best to protect her. Great write Brian!

Hank

Victoria said...

Strong allegorical work, Brian. The watermelon metaphors, "spitting the seeds" as so much of an unwanted leftover and after a couple of reads I grasp the subtle political references. Very effective write. BTW, I'm fine. Busy getting ready to head back home next week and closing up things here in the desert...both the place and the friendships, for this year.

Rachel said...

Great imagery, still has me thinking.

Peggy said...

Your history certainly and hers as well. And sadly a history for so many. I like the watermelon metaphors as well as the political references. I really enjoy your work and am happy to see you participating in a couple of the blogs I try to frequent! And thank you for visiting my bog!

Dolly@Soulstops said...

oh, how my heart ached for that girl and her mother...wonderful imagery as usual, Brian (smiles)...the layers...praying she finds her Father God and His unconditional/non-abandoning love...Blessings.

Adura Ojo said...

Seems to be unraveling for her already. One can only hope that the buck does not continue for generations before it stops.

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

I will be there, I love this poem it kind of reminds me of good childhood southern living.

Fred Rutherford said...

Great statement poem Brian. Really says much more than this girls story. A testament to how things certainly have changed since we, or at least I remember things back then. Great write. thanks

happygirl said...

I don't know about the politics, but I felt the melancholy, maybe in the watermelon. So many analogies sprung to mind. I'm glad you were finally able to find your words for it.

darkangelwrites said...

I love the watermelon weaving through all of this. Good thing not every spit seed sprouts.

Barbara Shallue said...

I really like it, despite the melancholy air. I recognize her in so many teenage girls I've known. Great job, and love how you tied the watermelon in.

Tara Miller said...

Your last stanza is especially heavy. I remember watching them with you and just thinking about her and how her life is forever changed. Very well written - I'll go back and read again for the political view

Maggie May said...

Wow..... that was good.
I like the rounded belly bit! I wasn't expecting that!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Bonnie said...

So clever and laden with so many potent analogies!

Beachanny said...

Agree the reference to politics and political life is subtle but there. Expected the reference to "having swallowed watermelon seeds" to get pregnant. That was a common childhood myth - in the South and Texas anyway. The fact that a pregnant"bump" often looks like a watermelon under one's shirt/dress.

Tabor said...

I forgot to add that as soon as you get your self-published book out, let me know, because I am buying a copy!

signed...bkm said...

the educating of our children, their responsibility to life, society and especially self are lost....bkm

Mary said...

Ah, so often things that are 'cute' at one stage of life turn out not to be at another. One wonders how much this mother fostered the behavior that got the girl where she is today.

Luke Prater said...

I like the Narrative element that is so strong here - a very definite story that is told... and it's true, eh?

ps did you spot any grammar errors in my Latin piece?

Pat Hatt said...

Things that are cute
Should be stuck on mute
For they never seem to end well
Which one can easily tell
If only such a thing wasn't taken lightly
Maybe the higher ups wouldn't grab a hold of our wallets so tightly

Mary Mansfield said...

Love the layers in this poem...powerful piece.

Myrna R. said...

I enjoyed reading this though it's sad. I'm not sure I get the exact layer of politics, but I just felt that so much goes unnoticed by us, by politicians, by parents.

I mention you on my blog today. Just for fun.

Kim Nelson said...

May not have worked before, Brian, but it works brilliantly this time. We feel the need of both mother and child. We understand there is more to the story than the story.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

I can see the subtle hint at politics, but I know nothing of the allegory part, so I can't really comment about that aspect. I think it's a really good poem. Flows really nice and makes sense, even though it leaves the reader to ponder parts of it.
Nice job, Brian!

momto8 said...

and she chose life!

Anonymous said...

"how her mother called it cute as she flounced,
draping boys like a table cloth,"

I've known a few moms like that...somehow they always seem the most surprised when the "seeds" grow into melons.

You did an awesome job with this prompt....you know I can relate all too well....

p.s. I sure like what Hedge says about congress simply being a bunch "noxious weeds"...well I don't "like" it, but I think it's so very very true....sadly!

Great work here Brian!

r.m. @ newviewfromhere.wordpress.com

Valerie V. said...

I also like the juxtaposition of the watermelon imagery. Nice.

Becky Sain said...

Yes... This is really great, interesting. A story I want more of, you know?

Anonymous said...

"more than the less than of their present reality"

"just waiting
for a drip to slip the lip & stain" (dang, that is tight, B ... she's begging for it, isn't she? Any kind of attention will do, even if "the drip" stains her permanently. The tablecloth metaphor is magnificent.)

"my cousins & i'd see
who spit them the furthest, pink flesh so cold
our teeth would hurt" (Her life probably has made her cold on the surface. This reminds me of that '90s phrase "you make my teeth hurt," which I think means a guy is, ahem, interested.)

"vines sur-rounding" ... Love the sur-reality in this, created by your hyphen. This is really a brilliant line, the vines sneaking in and wrapping round, "rounding" young ladies inside houses, those you'd like to protect. Very smart to indent this passage, a passage backward in time.

"they disappear-
ing inside" Your commas, hyphen, and line break here do something really fantastic. Yes, they disappear inside the building, but your treatments slow down the reading to make us think about this little phrase, the fact that when such a thing happens, we cope by disappearing inside ourselves. There is also the possibility that what is inside will disappear if she is getting an abortion.

"we spit like seed" (There's something about your use of "like" here that makes me think you mean "we spit seed like us, as in we spit at each other, we throw stones at each other, but we're all from the same melon. Stop all the fighting and finger-pointing already. Or something like that.)

Capitalizing "Houses" at the end was a fantastic idea. Wait until the end to mention this other layer, sending the reader right back to the beginning. I know you went there in the title, but people don't always concern themselves with titles. I don't care much about the political layer; I try my hardest to pretend there is no such thing as politics. ;)

Slammin' work, B. :) Got a little carried away with the comment.

rosemarymint.wordpress.com

Goofball said...

I like it but wish your Houses but also my Houses are getting some sun again

Heaven said...

I am not familiar with your politics but I can relate to the experience of growing up and being more responsible for our actions. The watermelon seeds is a good metaphor to use pertaining to the results or effects of our decisions.

Happy day to you ~

Friko said...

an all-too common tale told fresh.

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

what a wonderful write again Sir Brian...

love it!

JJRod'z

Natasha Head said...

Some stand on the sidelines spitting watermelon seeds, some stand spitting other things. Touching on a soft spot for me (politically)as our courts discuss revisiting what certain seeds represent...

Jannie Funster said...

We'll have to try watermelon spitting, never tried to see who could the farthest.

I hope mother and baby will be healthy and safe, it's not a tough row to hoe for sure.

You always have a interesting way of observing and sharing, Bri.

xo

Jannie Funster said...

wait that did not come out right, geez. I meant it IS a tough row to hoe, being young and with child.

pandamoniumcat said...

Very good, I enjoyed it, a fabulous allegory, the continuous metaphor is really well done... besides nailing the prompt it's just a great poem. Sometimes it takes a little while for a poem you want to write to emerge. It's worth the wait!

ayala said...

Strong and sad write, Brian.

Daniel said...

I have a few things that I have tried at and noodled over looking for the right way to express something or relate a specific feeling. This one has a rawness to it that is kind of stark and makes me feel, perhaps, a bit of what is moving in you.

Heather said...

this is really sad....she's going into the clinic...and boys spitting seeds....wow - your writing continues to amaze me.
hopefully the girl is safe now...and atleast, she has her mom to trust

Betsy said...

glad you tried again on this one...so cleverly written and says so much.

Katherine Krige said...

Life is not always what we dream it to be. Your paths crossed, but who knows where her journey will lead her.

Keep your memories pure my pure

Magpie said...

What brass ring to we teach them to reach for? Sad...

Steve E said...

Brian, when you state that you observe life, and write about it--you mean really...REALLY observe what's going on. And relate it to everything else.

Well, the Universe IS everything.
As one.
As.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"passing within twenty feet, they don't see me their eyes measuring each step, hand upon the roundness of her belly, more watermelon than the girl i once knew, full with seed..."

Hi! Brian...
Brian said,"Have tried to write about it a few times but it never really worked. Underneath it all is a political poem, veiled a bit."

I guess the time was right...Because you, have succeeded with your poetic words in getting your thinly veiled political [message] underneath and the consequences Of ones action across very well...too!
Tks, for sharing!
deedee ;-D

KB said...

Young girls looking for love in the wrong places. Very sad.

Anne said...

I'm not politically savvy enough to fully understand the subtext. What I do get is the sense of the loss of a past, once innocent and now full of tragic consequences. And a beautifully crafted verse. Very evocative Brian.

ladyfi said...

A wonderfully gritty piece of writing.

Valerie said...

Sad. I just hope the mother supports her now that the seed is sown.

Shweta Pathak said...

Android Application Development
I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it, I have you bookmarked to check out all the new stuff you post.

Katherine said...

Brian you are a master of words of that there's no denying. Sadly it's not an uncommon story these days, this girls story mirrors that of many others! I hope all is well in your world Brian...it's been such a long time between reads for me in Blogland!

SueAnn Lommler said...

Draped on her arm like the vines of a watermelon. Full..ripe...bursting. All these thoughts filled my mind...my oh my!!
Brings to mind the popular girls and how I envied them. Then I was enlightened. Ha!! I grew up...now I am saddened by the trap of "popular". And what it can do.
Hugs
SueAnn

Dave King said...

Powerful and nuanced. A most enjoyable read.

the walking man said...

Take the veil off Brian...fire hard upon the reality you see.

Pauline said...

there are any number of things to be read into this - we all come to it with our own (mis) perceptions. I like the use of the indent in the 5th stanza.

Charles Miller said...

hmmmm... As reverie or memory, this works itself into allegory very gently, without making itself too self-righteous, the bane of many allegories. I'm still deciding whether this is about a girl who is getting an abortion or perhaps just getting prenatal care. Either way, it would say a lot about the state of the country, divided over abortion or over healthcare. Your sensitivity to the lives of others and how we interrelate with each other is always wonderful to read.

Tigerbrite said...

I pinned on the same sentence as Sue. It was like the beginning and the end of the story. Sad. Politicians ? I suppose we see them as less at the end of the story.

Slamdunk said...

Great one Brian.

We have been here for 10 years and I can still remember the young adults in our neighborhood as children--playing hopscotch, tag, and spitting watermelon seeds. No matter who they are now.

Poetry and Icecream said...

This is brilliant Brian! I love the watermelon and seed spitting competitions, both great metaphors. Awesome allegory :)

manicddaily said...

I am missing the Flash 55s today. Hope G-man okay. k.

Lady Nyo said...

You might have not been successful before in trying to write this poem, but you certainly succeeded now.

Poignant, and the part of watermelon spitting.....where the seeds land or come from....excellently woven into this story.

Lady Nyo

Mama Zen said...

Sad, sharp piece. I like it very much.

lifeisaroadtrip said...

Very poignant, Brian. A sad story that happens way too often and can never be legislated no matter how hard they/we try.

AmyLK said...

I like it. its a shame one so young is now paying the price.

PattiKen said...

I didn't find politics as much as a commentary about the sacrifice of the young to poverty and hopelessness, but maybe those are the same thing. Very poignant, Brian.

De said...

Love the word-bump of these lines:
"draping boys like a table cloth, just waiting
for a drip to slip the lip & stain---"

Aidz Giannini said...

Visual and visceral, I enjoyed it and some kewl lines

marousia said...

Love the final stanza - perfect!

poeticlicensee said...

Unique & sad use of metaphor, along with affective alliteration, a style all your own...

Semaphore said...

One of the things that make your poetry stand out, Brian, is accessibility, despite the depth of your meaning. And this is evident here, with the watermelon girl, the boys watching, the seeds spit out, the clinic - all allegorical, symbolic images that are able to stand for something, and yet require of the reader no more concentration than is necessary to enjoy the story. You accomplish with such ease and intuition what I attempt to do consciously - with difficulty, I should say - in my own work. And that is one of the greatest things I admire about your poetry.

sheila said...

ugh - as a mother of two girls, I shudder at the image.

Anne Katherine said...

Nice job telling this very sad story...very sad commentary on the world of girls.

Bodhirose said...

A common story that plays out these days... I liked your comparison of the watermelon seeds of your youth and the girls' "seeded" tummy. This brings up some fierce feelings in me...

Sreeja said...

A strong write here....

Margaret said...

Government had absolutely nothing to do with this young ladies situation, whether she is getting an abortion or clinical care to keep her baby. So many young girls are in despererate need of their father's attention and getting to know God their Father. I find it interesting that many treat her situation as lightly as spitting watermelon seeds... A game politicians play to manipulate votes. So much packed in here... A whole evenings conversation (that would never get solved!). Brava!

Hannah said...

Hey there, Brian, I really enjoyed how you went back and forth from the literal watermelon times to the metaphor of the pregnant girl. Heartbreaking story behind. You've rendered this so creatively. Thank you and smiles to you!

haikulovesongs said...

your "true stories" break my heart, brian! i don't know how you do what you do!

wonderful layers in this!

william said...

you never cease to amaze me friend, always spot on..

Syd said...

Young girl finding a way out of not having a father present, only to repeat the same history herself. Sad but so prevalent with so many. We are searching for love and look in places that we will not find it.