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Dark Stills

by annah 

Posted: 28 November 2002
Word Count: 69
Summary: A poem about a photo of my father

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From within the speckled frame
I grasp a distant reason
It seems a lifetime ago
Another world beyond my reach

What was he thinking then?
Was he on his way home?
Or was it a very special day?
Having his photograph taken.

Brown with time and torn
Years tucked away in a dusty cupboard
And yet still he looks straight into my eyes
That strange man - my father.

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Comments by other Members

Anna Reynolds at 11:02 on 06 December 2002  Report this post
I think this has real emotional punch. And it`s quite economical, going by the `less is more` rule. I`d like to see more work by this writer.

annah at 13:28 on 06 December 2002  Report this post
Thanks Anna - its really nice to get such positive feedback! I feel quite inspired now! Best wishes Annah

James Graham at 16:23 on 14 February 2003  Report this post
I've printed out your poem and will comment in a couple of days (after the demo!)


James Graham at 11:35 on 16 February 2003  Report this post
This is a good subject. Old photos are strange, and there's a lot of poetry in them. It's also something that most readers can respond to. But I think what you need is to be more concrete, to make the photo more real to the reader. Especially details that distance you from the photo, make it seem something from another time, another world. Style of clothes? Details of the background? You're not sure where or when the photo was taken - any clues in the photo, or clues you might look for aren't there? Make up details if necessary - doing this fictionalises the subject, but shouldn't compromise the truth of what the poem is saying.

James Graham at 11:38 on 16 February 2003  Report this post
Part Two. I've discovered that if a comment is longer than very short, it doesn't post. As I was going to say when I was interrupted -

I like the last stanza, but can't resist tinkering with it, mainly to make it a little more concise.

...his dark photograph

years in a dusty cupboard,
brown with time and torn.
Yet still he looks straight into my eyes,
that strange man, my father.

It's a poem that's well worth working on.

annah at 20:20 on 17 February 2003  Report this post
Hi James
Many thanks for your interesting remarks. I've never actually reworked a poem before, but I'll give it a go with this and see what happens - should be interesting!
I'll post it here when I'm finished

Jack at 14:57 on 21 February 2003  Report this post
Annah - it's a timeless theme, critics and purists reckon it's been done to death: never!.
Beautifully rendered, thank you.

James Graham at 19:02 on 21 February 2003  Report this post
Hi Annah - Sorry I didn't pick up your message right away. Looking forward to seeing your revision.


paul53 at 18:40 on 26 April 2003  Report this post
Some folk say the best piece of music is the one you never listen to, for as soon as it begins, it lifts you up and takes you elsewhere, and only depositing you back down with the closing bars. Your poem took me from where I was to stare at a browning image of my own long dead father, making me realise I never really knew him, just as my children will never really know me. A moment later I was on the closing line of your poem.
Thank you for those moments.

roger at 09:47 on 05 May 2003  Report this post
If a poem makes you think, it works. I never really knew my own father (does anybody really know their father?) and it's frightening that it will probably (certainly) be the same with your own kids. Acorns don't know oak trees, why should we be any different? This poem bothered me a lot, made me think...maybe we're doing it all wrong somehow - it worked; full stop.

LONGJON at 23:21 on 16 June 2003  Report this post
It is frustrating, isn't it, having the breadth of ones' ignorance suddenly paraded. Like so many others I hardly knew my Father, and photographs seem sometimes to be laughing at you, knowing you can never reach the subject now.

olebut at 23:31 on 16 June 2003  Report this post
I think that there is much about the Mike and The Mechanics song 'Living Years' that is very true about ones relationship with ones father My father was blind and whilst not an unfeeling man he never really showed his emotions he lost his own father when he was 2 and was brought up by an aunt. There is much I wanted to tell him but sadly it is too late.

I have tried often to write a poem about my father but it is the one subject which evades me i know how to do it I know what I want to say but when it comes to putting the words down they wont come I hope they do before it is too late.

This poem sums up how so many felt after the first world war and to a lesser extent the second and obviously many for other reasons. It is a very good illustration of helplessness about also perhaps a good kick to ensure we get to know our own children

thank you


Tuppence at 15:24 on 09 January 2005  Report this post
my father a very gentle man
a musician
he would sit me on his when i was 2
all i could do was listen to the music he played
never afraid of all i could not do
sitting at the piano
nurtured by the tunes he played
then he would say "go girl,you try now"
"how?" i would say
"watch me and copy what i do"
each day he would practice with me
put a record on
i would stand on his feet
we would dance
we may meet again
and i will greet him
the loving father i have lost

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