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We and Me

by Jordan789 

Posted: 05 December 2006
Word Count: 76

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Locking the golden dead-bolt,
I can’t help but think how soon
I will be turning it the opposite direction,
wearing the same wool black coat,
and return to the subway.

We all wear black pants,
a black shirt;
read the same “Welcome, you look
so nice when you smile” greeting
printed out
as we clock in,
each day,
we arrive
and we leave,
and the rumbles of the subway car
jostle my place on the page.

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Comments by other Members

billygotee at 05:25 on 06 December 2006  Report this post

The only metro in the states I know of is in New York (a far away land for me, down here in New Orleans). So I've got no experience with such things. However, the image in the first stanza says a lot.

I'm getting sidetracked, but two things I'm reminded of:

-The packs of slaves changing shifts on the underground elevator at the beginning of Metropolis.
-A haiku I've always liked by Ezra Pound with a similar, but different theme:


The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet black bough.

Overall, I'd like to see more images in this. My opinion. . .


Jordan789 at 05:28 on 06 December 2006  Report this post
ah, a man who likes mr. pound, and then asks for more images--I know there was something I liked a lot about your poetry, and I guess it comes through in your criticism also. You, like Mr. Pound, love images. I think he founded a school, or one was formed based heavily on his works, called Imagism or something to that liking.

Thanks for the tidbit.


billygotee at 06:45 on 06 December 2006  Report this post
Hey Jordan, thanks for the kind words. Didn't know that about Pound. . .


James Graham at 18:31 on 06 December 2006  Report this post
This is a well realised poem, carefully controlled, which creates a sombre picture of the succession of working days. Your use of black is effective - if the colour black appears three times in a short poem, we take notice. There's no sense of black being artificially dragged into the poem, because we realise it's part of the speaker's corporate 'uniform' anyway. Three mentions are just about right. All or most of the associations we make with the colour black hover around the poem, and affect its mood.

The only other colour in the poem is 'golden'. Already in the phrase 'golden dead-bolt' it seems ironic, but when we come to the sombre black the irony of gold gets a little sharper. 'Golden dead-bolt' is a nice touch. So too is the corporate-identity message, 'Welcome, you look/ so nice when you smile'. The workplace rictus this invokes hardly counteracts the 'blackness' of machine-like working days.

There's something in modern lit theory about what's not said in a poem being as important as what's said. We have a simple example here, in the lines

we arrive
and we leave

Nothing in between. Or rather, there's a hell of a lot in between, but none of it is life-enhancing. The poem tells us nothing about the kind of work the speaker does, though we might make a few guesses from the clothes. I think this 'omission' is actually a positive feature of the poem.

I like the last line. The corporate-uniformed employee, cog in the great machine, tries to read, or maybe even write (or even write a poem) in the rattling subway car. The line reads almost like an afterthought, and this has the right effect, I think. Somewhere on the margins of this working life there's a glimpse of an escape route, but it's elusive. There's just a hint too that it's not only the subway car that 'jostles' much of the life-enhancing stuff out of this person's days.

I like the title too - makes you wonder why nobody thought of it before.

Altogether a well-made poem. I couldn't fault anything in it technically. The shortening of lines towards the end could let the voice (if the poem were being read aloud) convey weariness; and if the voice can readily do that, then we can say the form allows it.


P.S. Brandon, thanks for quoting this short piece by Pound. I'm not a great fan of Pound, but this is a very strong image.

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