Monday, January 21, 2008

Poetry Train Monday - 33 - Pedigree

This poem was inspired by the relationship my late father-in-law suffered through with his father. I've been thinking about that a lot since he passed away. I admire him for working through his own pain enough to raise three sons who grew into caring men.


Word-stones bruise. Clammy face, chill with pale fear,
Washes over with hope for escape. Hands
Grab, shove till boy sprawls, choked by dust. By tears.

Leather whistles through loops. Skin prickles. Stands
Over him - snaking back, father's coiled strength -
- washes over with hope for escape. Hands

Grip the straw. Body curls. Jerks. Yet arms' length.
Slash/burns. Grits teeth to bite back howls. He fails.
Over him - snaking back, father's coiled strength -

Granite fury geysers hot. Leather flails.
What trigger for this scalding? ...many names.
Slash/burns. Grits teeth to bite back howls. He fails.

No action, word appeases him, nor tames.
His mother's horror serves a new rebuke.
What trigger for this scalding? ...many names.

A bond that festers, flares as quick as puke.
Word-stones bruise. Clammy face, chill with pale fear -
His mother's horror serves a new rebuke.
Leather whistles through loops. Skin prickles. Stands -

Copyright - Julia Smith - Jan. 2008

Warning: link to clip shows blood and some violence.

Photos are stills from the 2003 Swedish film Evil (Ondskan) by Mikael Håfström, starring Andreas Wilson. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. I've only seen parts of it, but it's on my to-watch list.

Switching gears entirely - just think of all the hotties out there that we don't even know about...


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Wow, that's strong, Julia. The repetitive lines and the concrete images...

Yeah. Thanks. I'll have nightmares from you now!

keeyit said...

Nice poetry

Anonymous said...

Powerful and wrenching. Excellent job, Julia.

Missy said...

My eyes grew rounder as I read. Very powerful.

Joy Renee said...

so powerful indeed. not a bedtime story.

i like the effect of repeating earlier lines and mixing them up. it seems to allude to the fractured psyches such treatment creates, the dissociation and incomprehension. also the repetitiveness and the nonsense of it.

My Friday Snippet short story this past two weeks was an exploration of this disturbing phenomenon.

gautami tripathy said...

beautifully poignant terzanelle. this form suits the sombre mood here.

Red Garnier said...

That is super powerful, Julia. My skin prickled indeed, oh gosh, it also made me sad. Very touching poem, Julia.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I have goose bumps.
Very powerful visuals.

Akelamalu said...

Powerful words Julia that paint a very painful picture.

Amy Ruttan said...

That's wonderful! Provoked a lot of strong emotions in me. Great job. :D

Anonymous said...

I like your refrain too. Emotions between parents and children can be so hard to wade through. Your poem shows the struggle very well.

Sniz said...

You are a talented poet. I really enjoyed that, Julia. Thanks for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

very staccato--like the whip of the belt. impressive. clear, concrete images convey the feelings, showing w/o having to tell.

also haiku like! the 3 line stanzas also reflect the family--the child, the abuser, and the parent who goes along with the abuse.

i grew up under the threat of the belt. just before christmas 2007, my husband, 4 year old and i were having dinner with my dad and he was fuming at me and finally exploded. i realized i didn't have to be afraid of being hit or of having my family hurt, and left. i haven't spoken to him since.

for people who didn't grow up under this threat (like my husband), it is hard to imagine. but you do it well. i will share your poem with him and perhaps it wlll help him understand.

and now, i will have an oreo cookie (or finish the box!) and some scotch!

Danika / OpenChannel said...

okay, this is what I get for getting here late.

gautami and art predator... yeah, what THEY said. (although, thanks G, I couldn't remember the form... I knew it was a wonky kind of villanelle)

although, I did not grow up under the belt, quite the opposite. my father was very sweet and passive.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
julia said...

Artpredator - that really means a lot to me, that my poem will help you share something painful from your childhood with your husband. I'm coming to this sort of character as an observer. When I got to junior high, I realized that some of the other kids didn't actually want to go home after school. And I was the horrified witness to several incidents that made me glad I was not that other kid.

Annette said...

This is very powerful, Julia. Thank you for sharing it with us.

And I finally did the meme you sent. Sorry it took me so long! :)

Karina said...

That's a really powerful piece. Made all the more powerful by the fact that I just watched The DaVinci Code and had the images of Silas abusing himself in my mind as I read this. Not the same, I know, but the cringing at the images was similar. Very powerful!