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Laying bare

by joanie 

Posted: 15 January 2008
Word Count: 71

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Even though
I suspect deep-down
that they won't fit
I carry them off
to the half-privacy
of the changing room
with its all-revealing

Stripping off
familiar comfort
I ease on the tight-fitting
ideas which once
I left, shapeless, on
the hanger outside
my mind. Full-formed
images now, they

my determination,
cut-out my future,
accentuate the up-lift
of a sand-filled
hour-glass existence
until finally

my intellect looks good in this.

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Comments by other Members

Elsie at 22:40 on 15 January 2008  Report this post
Hi Joanie,the last line made me wonder if the narrator discarded the ideas after all - so has stripped away the comfortable, but the ideas ideas don't fit for her, so she remains naked? Or, the last stanza seems to suggest the new ideas are a kind of 'lift and separate' or magic knickers, but that wouldn't leave her naked? I like the play on hour glass figure/existence. Just a bit puzzled by the final line. Maybe I'm being thick - it is late for me! Elsie

James Graham at 12:56 on 16 January 2008  Report this post
This is a good read. Colin Galbraith, editor of the new Ranfurly Review (see Oonah’s latest Forum posting) says somewhere he’s looking for poems, stories etc that are simply ‘a good read’. This poem is a good read because we soon discover the word ‘ideas’, which all at once gives the poem a whole new dimension. When I came to ‘ideas’ I stopped and went (quite excitedly) back to the beginning. As soon as we grab hold of this key word we begin to enjoy the way you develop the metaphor - the way you relate taking a new idea on board with trying on new clothes. Not only that - also the way you relate body and mind.

There are lots of words and lines that give off the sparks of metaphorical double meaning. ‘Mirrors’, ‘familiar comfort’, ‘Full-formed’, ‘fashion’ are only some. I had a temporary problem with ‘changing room’ which seemed at first to have everything to do with clothes but not much to do with ideas. But it came right. I realised I too have an intellectual changing room - it has a computer in the corner and quite a lot of books. No actual mirrors, but there are mirrors in my head. I like to think I occasionally emerge from my changing room wearing a smart new idea. (Or maybe one that’s two sizes too big?) So ‘changing room’ works too.

Maybe the best for me is ‘the up-lift/ of a sand-filled/ hour-glass existence’ - coming at the end, this idea combines the two sides of the metaphor so cleverly that I absolutely buy the whole idea of the poem.

I tend to share Elsie’s doubts about the last line, though. It does seem to suggest that you finally discard the new ideas and will just put the old comfortable ones on again and leave it at that. But that’s not really in the spirit of the poem. How about ‘my intellect looks good in this’? (Or ‘these’.) (As soon as I write that alternative last line, I feel the need to apologise! It seems so superficial compared with your line, and I may be missing the point anyway).

Joanie, on your Showcase page you’re very tentative about publishing. While I was still working (as a teacher…toiling would be a better word) I was tentative too and saw publishing as something to do after retirement. But I wonder sometimes if maybe I waited too long. Are you thinking of sending some off to mags? Or even thinking about which poems you would include in a collection?

Anyway, to finish as I started…this one’s a good read.


joanie at 14:23 on 16 January 2008  Report this post
Elsie and James, thank you very much! Yes, I agree with your concerns about the idea of the last line. James, I will use your suggestion if you don't mind and change it to 'my intellect looks good in this'.

'After retirement' is a terrible phrase, isn't it? My advice to anybody about various matters is 'do it while you can - there may come a day when you have the time/money but you aren't able', or words to that effect. I need to take some of my own advice, I think, James; you are quite right.

Many thanks for your responses.


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