Wednesday, September 26, 2012

There


For Three Word Wednesday. Prompt words entice, savor, chance.

There 

They asked me
Where’d you see
him last, voices
modulating
in that grave tone
of adult concern.

So I took them, 
neighbors and neighbors
friends following me
a few hundred yards
down the creek bank
to a place we’d often
go, Wes and I,
to swim or fish or
sneak a smoke.
Once we’d even
talked our parents
into letting us camp
overnight; with enough
supplies for a two-week
stay we took our fill
of liberty, staying up
till dawn and savoring
a breakfast of bluegill
and granola bars.

We walked,
as the first stars
began to wink, past
the old campsite,
past the trees that
opened up as if by
chance. I pointed
to an enticing spot
where waist-high water
plunged
into our deep
swimming hole:

There,
I said, this much
the truth. I had
seen him there
three hours ago,
after we’d catfished
and puffed half
a pack of Marlboros,
and jumped
from the old green oak
into the rain-swelled current—

There.  But I
didn’t tell them
how we’d hurled
hurtful words,
and worse,
and how he’d stood
in the reddening water
and cried.

22 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Chris. Thought I'd give a go at a narrative poem this week. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't!

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  2. The movement is precise and the sequence well defined. This is great work.

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    1. Christopher, Thank you, your comment means a lot!

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  3. This had me fooled Nico. I read slowly, scrolling down line-by-line, thinking how the apparent story-line reminded me vaguely of 'The Big Brown Trout' by Robert Travers (A short story from 1967); and then I came to your last verse, and was chilled. I really thought the adults were interested in the whereabouts of a famous, old, elusive fish. This is a fine poem, and I apologise for assuming a light-weight intention that was not there.

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    1. No apology necessary, Leigh. I was trying to lead the reader astray, so the fault is mine. It started pretty straightforward, but things took a dark turn . . .

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    1. Thank you for reading to the end, Sheilagh.

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  5. Yes the tempo and tone were perfect..really had a sense of walking through the scene..a kind of crime scene perhaps all at once removed but painfully real..Jae

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    1. Jae, thanks much. I so wanted things to end well, but knew I was done with it when I wrote the word "cried."

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  6. Oh yikes.... very nicely woven. I thought he'd fallen into deep water and gotten swept away but... he did him in!
    Wicked short story, had me really gripped and what an ending!
    Really enjoyed it Nico and, thanks for your lovely comment.

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    1. Bren, thank you. This poem is a combination of a current local news story, a personal memory of a shameful action from my childhood (no, I didn't kill anyone!), and my imagination. I'm glad you liked it.

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  7. Damn ! that gave me chills ...

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  8. Thanks Nimue. I hoped the matter-of-fact telling would be a nice contrast to the hook at the end.

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  9. How much truth can a child own up to? The chilling part was the reddening water and his failure to help which will torment him for the rest of his life. Having had such adventures that often bordered on the dangerous I really felt this one. Great writing.

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    1. Thank you, Robin. The truth gets very negotiable when it can get us in trouble.

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    1. Laurie, I'm glad you thought so--thanks.

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  11. A very chilling and disturbing ending.... a mood that you have conveyed with skill.

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    1. I thank you--both for stopping by for a visit and for leaving such a kind word.

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  12. a powerful piece. the last stanza adds such depth and heartache.

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    1. Thanks rmp. I've been feeling some heartache the past few weeks, so writing this was cathartic.

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