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Survival

by joanie 

Posted: 03 December 2005
Word Count: 81
Summary: I just received a Christmas card from my uncle, well into his 80's, the last remaining brother of 13 children. He enclosed a photo of himself in Brisbane hospital, having been hit by a Kamikase bomber in the Philippines, during the war. It's funny how one is compelled to write something, whatever it is, at times!


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They are an old man's feet,
held awkwardly
beneath the scant dressing gown
over striped flannelette pyjamas.

They could not support him
long enough
for the photo to be taken
even in the Australian sunshine.

The quiff is his statement
of a fashion
still in its infancy, barely
alive at this other end of the world.

The starched white cap and cape,
the watch pinned
upside-down, the white laced-up shoes,
will work to send this tender soldier back

to his family.











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Comments by other Members



Brian Aird at 09:58 on 04 December 2005  Report this post
This is lovely. It's just lovely.

A vivid picture with just a few brush strokes;

"The quiff is his statement
of a fashion
still in its infancy, barely
alive at this other end of the world."

Very fine...

Brian



joanie at 11:34 on 04 December 2005  Report this post
Thank you very much, Brian.

joanie

paul53 [for I am he] at 14:09 on 04 December 2005  Report this post
Joanie,
This allowed us to gaze at the picture with you. Very precise.
First line;
They are an old man's feet,
Those are old man's feet?
*
I don't seem to get to view the poetry outside my PG2 group as often as I did, probably because the SF group uploading 4-7,000 words a go drains my time.
Paul

joanie at 19:09 on 04 December 2005  Report this post
Thanks for reading, Paul. Actually, I was pondering 'These are an old man's feet' rather than 'those'. I'll think about it.

joanie

James Graham at 19:45 on 04 December 2005  Report this post
Joanie, I certainly agree with the comments so far. The word-pictures are so clear that we can reconstruct the photo in imagination. The closing lines are full of feeling but it's evoked in sparing language, not an ounce too heavy. A sure touch.

One question occurred to me - how would the poem seem without your note on the background? If you hadn't told us the background, I think we would still have got close. Maybe, though, to let the poem stand alone without any need for explanation, the title could be changed to something like 'Wartime Photo'. Then the reader's perspective on the poem would be clear from the start; we would be aware of 'looking at' the photo through the words of your poem.

The sense of a huge gulf of time is strong in the poem too. Sixty years since the end of WWII...it seems like six hundred.

James.

joanie at 20:30 on 04 December 2005  Report this post
James, you are wise and perceptive, as always. I felt this gnawing need to say what had prompted this; I wish I had the courage to just post it and see what happened! Your suggestion of a title without any explanation is exactly right, I'm sure.

Thank you very much.

joanie

R-Poet at 12:33 on 06 December 2005  Report this post
A very evocative piece. Nice work.

On the subject of these/they/those feet, how about the more minimalist, and bolder, start:

Old man's feet,
...

Steve

joanie at 17:58 on 06 December 2005  Report this post
Thanks, Steve. I know what you mean about 'Old man's feet', and I agree that minimalist is good, but I want to keep the line length, really.

Thank you for reading and commenting - much appreciated!

joanie

Mac AM at 07:01 on 08 December 2005  Report this post
Hello Jaonie, I liked this very much and expeciallt the line "barely//
alive at this other end of the world." It seems to encapsulate the gap between what we do to each other in times of war and what we say, as well as the geographical gap.

The nurses pin-watch is alovely bit of humour between what it is and the idea of being 'down under' too.

I glad I popped over to read it.

Mac


Mac AM at 07:02 on 08 December 2005  Report this post
Again without the typos:

Hello Joanie, I liked this very much and especially the line "barely//
alive at this other end of the world." It seems to encapsulate the gap between what we do to each other in times of war and what we say, as well as the geographical gap.

The nurses pin-watch is a lovely bit of humour between what it is and the idea of being 'down under' too.

I glad I popped over to read it.

Mac


joanie at 14:23 on 08 December 2005  Report this post
Thanks, Mac. I'm glad you popped over too! Thanks for mentioning the upside-down watch. I hadn't meant to make the down under connection with it but I liked it when I realised it had happened.

Thanks for reading.

joanie



Mac AM at 12:42 on 09 December 2005  Report this post
It's amazing how you can write something that has more significance than you originally intended. Then someone sees something new and you think hey, I like that!

Mac

engldolph at 20:26 on 12 December 2005  Report this post
Hi Joanie,

Enjoyed the light and sure touch that James mentions..it seemed to carry a tangible love and respect and linked past and present...it was this feeling that stayed with me, rather than the specific words...the isgn of a good poem I think... Also agree that Survival may not be the right title...to heavy for the touch you have within

enjoyed
Mike

joanie at 22:16 on 12 December 2005  Report this post
Thanks, Mike. Yes, I see what you mean about the title being 'too heavy'. I'm glad the feeling stayed with you; I'm sure that that's what I intended.
Thanks for taking the time.
joanie

<Added>

I really do wish we could post photos!


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