Caesar’s Ghost

7 Jan

Alright guys
have mentioned I’m not entirely sure if I want to perform at Say Sum Thin 4, but if I do this seems to be the thing I am putting forward. Think it’s probably the closest thing I have to acceptable 12A, and has elements of the three themes even if none of them manifest themselves particularly definitively. Its just two freewrites put together and I think like most of my freewrites it has a weak beginning. I also think it is pretty vague at points so any feedback is appreciated. Made up the title for the sake of the list we done at Panya’s session before the December break, so if there are any better ideas give a shout. Cheers

I was my father’s disappointment,
that his and my dreams for me did not meet up, and get along, and settle down together.
I was the remote control flying at my head,
let loose from my sister’s frustrations.
I am still the sound of my mother’s voice when trouble is coming.

I see the injustices committed by a hungry police force, and the fickle nature of what the government thinks should be done instead.
I am the only thing that is real,
the last bastion of integrity in an otherwise desolate generation.
The final push up and the broken jaw,
I am Declan’s teeth blood-smeared on the black-tiled kitchen floor,
and the indifference of the dental bills, the chairs scraping on laminate as they move away when I arrive.
I am the crack of white-tainted splinters during the crime,
and the scent of the security guard’s dead cigarettes lingering beside the cathedral
– Is anybody watching me up there?

I see Sandie’s 22 screaming beacons.
The conservation of The New Truth, poly-bagged evidence and no conclusive proof.
In the cells beneath the courtroom, staring into the eyes of a two-time killer – my cellmate – teaching me with his last words as an innocent man.

I dunno how old Caesar was.
I’m tempted to say late-forties but in truth he had a demeanor which suggested older.
The creases of his face – spattered with grey stubble – spoke with experience.
Black hat hugging his head, he shuffled in his trackie jacket like an empty packet of crisps looking for dessert.

His vision glazed over, retracing his steps so as not to weep.
Memories of the hiss of the bus, irrevocable.
His eyes gleaned wide, the lights reflecting off the lenses of his modest glasses
and you could tell he is the kind of guy who can’t believe his luck – just as he knows the fact he’s fucked, and is becoming passionate about repeating it.

– It’s the only thing he has to hold on to if his sentence is Life – like at least he knew it was coming.

He looks at me like he’s screaming at his son.
Tells me not to come back here.
Grabs me by the hinges and tells me I’m better than this.

Tired, he surmises in a voice on the verge of its final North West sunset:
“You’re alright, Our Kid. I can see it in your shoes.”

We’ve both slept with splinters in our backs and copper on our tongues.
Disturbed by static, the tanoy is strung through the heatless room, and echoes:
“Cell One : Ashburn”

Two hours ago we traded a flapjack for a packet of crisps.
Now he’s the last True man I’ve known, and I am his.

I wear this hat for you now, free.

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4 Responses to “Caesar’s Ghost”

  1. Sacha Wise January 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Hello I am not sure who wrote this but I just wanted to say that I thought it was beautiful…. I think the story flows really well and I found myself getting really caught up when reading it- like when your reading a really good book that you don’t want to put down. I am going to give you a list of the lines that i really loved, were powerful and stood out to me:

    I was the remote control flying at my head,
    let loose from my sister’s frustrations.

    I am Declan’s teeth blood-smeared on the black-tiled kitchen floor,
    and the indifference of the dental bills, the chairs scraping on laminate as they move away when I arrive.

    He looks at me like he’s screaming at his son.

    Grabs me by the hinges and tells me I’m better than this.

    Now he’s the last True man I’ve known, and I am his.

    The only things I am left wondering in the poem is why the character thinks
    “I am the only thing that is real,
    the last bastion of integrity in an otherwise desolate generation.” Is it that the character is delusional or genuinely believes that because the police and government is corrupt that makes his acts of violence full of integrity? If he is delusional, the rest of the poem gives the impression that he is quite level headed. Is that intentional?

    Also I think the line “The final push up and the broken jaw” could be reworded to be stronger especially as it is before the vivid imagery of Declan’s teeth blood-smeared…(etc) so I think the line before lets it down a little and could be improved upon.

    The line… “and is becoming passionate about repeating it.” I think is a little vague and is weaker than the sentence before it all. I’m almost left thinking WHAT is he passionate about repeating, his luck/the crime/his life???

    I quite liked the beginning, although yes you could work on the wording a bit (maybe condensing the 2nd line-making it more hard hitting) but I thought the concept was powerful and gave us a story behind the crime almost.

    I loved the cry “Is anybody watching me up there?” -it almost gives an element of desperation

    These are just my thoughts and ideas that I would think about if it was my own poem. By no means am I 100% right in anything I say. So play around and use my feedback as thoughts you can pick up or leave as you would like.

    Overall I genuinely thought it was a powerful piece and I am interested in reading a novel of yours so could you please write one!

    Sacha

  2. mouthypoets January 29, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    Hi Stephen,
    I am really sorry it has taken me so long to get to this, every time I get to the blog I underestimate how thorough I have to be with each piece. I can’t sleep if I feel I have left something unmentioned. I want to give you the same feedback I would want given to me. That said, if you ever feel y method of feedback does not work for you then let me know and re can readdress it to be as useful to you as possible!
    Now, onto your poem…

    LOVE
    -“I was the remote control flying at my head” I love this line, strong opening image. Cut the first lines you have and keep this?
    -“The final push up and the broken jaw,”
    -Lovely bit of character building through action here
    “I am Declan’s teeth blood-smeared on the black-tiled kitchen floor,
    and the indifference of the dental bills, the chairs scraping on laminate as they move away when I arrive.”
    -“he shuffled in his trackie jacket like an empty packet of crisps”
    -“He looks at me like he’s screaming at his son.” I think this is not only a great line but a vital one, this is where your language and imagery is starting to tie together. By using phrasing similar to that at the beginning of the poem, there is a sense of a whole. As the reader/audience I feel like everything is connected. But I am not yet sure how.
    -“Grabs me by the hinges” LOVE the use of the word hinges!
    -“Two hours ago we traded a flapjack for a packet of crisps.” – I feel like this should be the last line, the image is so concrete and really is showing everything your current last lines are trying to say? Maybe there is a way of creating the movement of leaving but with a similar imagery? I just really like this image and think it connects more language-wise with the rest of the poem.

    -Overall I think the complexity of narrative, characterisation and imagery is overwhelmingly exciting. It is great to see you weaving together so many things! For an early draft, you have so much clay to work with…now I just have a few questions

    QUESTIONS
    -I don’t understand these lines…

    “I am the crack of white-tainted splinters during the crime,
    and the scent of the security guard’s dead cigarettes lingering beside the cathedral.”

    “You’re alright, Our Kid. I can see it in your shoes.”

    “We’ve both slept with splinters in our backs and copper on our tongues.”

    -Who and what is this poem really about? There are a lot of people; Sandie, Declan, the narrator, dad, mum, sister, the police force, Caesar, and I am not sure who the main characters are and what purposes they serve. Do you know? Maybe finding this out and writing this down would help you cut out any unnecessary or distracting characters?
    -Another that might help clarify direction are; writing down the plot of this poem in 5 bullet points. In those bullet points try and have the structure of; setting, conflict, tension building, climax, resolution. Where are these things happening in the poem and to who?

    SUGGESTIONS
    -Cliché; “- Is anybody watching me up there?” “tells me I’m better than this”
    -I think at times your verbs/action could be stronger. This words/phrases are the movement in the poem, they need to be charged with exactly the right energy. Here are some I would like you to play with, try using a thesaurus, you might have some interesting outcomes; “trouble is coming”

    I think there is something really successful about the way you are using so many images and people and action. It is exciting and intense. However I feel like it needs to be working towards the same purpose, then we can look at another more word for word edit (if that is what you want). A book I think might help you with this process is “Trouble came to the Turnip” by Caroline Bird. She does this really successfully. I have said book, if you would like to borrow it?

    D

  3. Ste February 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Alright there guys, I know this has taken me ages to get back to yous on but as you know I aint really been feeling big about this poem. I’ve tried to take the things that yous and Panya have said to me about it and have reworked it a bit. Today I had some semi-big (like when you kind of fancy a girl but you’re unsure if it’s ethical to seal the deal) epiphany that I should sort this out. So here is the current draft, but first I shall just answer a few things.

    – I kept the opening line as it is because I figured it included all key family members that way. Plus my dad’s opinion was pretty impacting as a kid so important in character development.
    – I cut out the bit about Sandie (which originally I had extended) because although extremely personal to me it convoluted the story arc.
    – I tried to reword/erase any of the lines which were raised into question. Hopefully now the ones which remain are a bit clearer.
    – I kept the cliché “trouble is coming” as I felt for the opening of the poem it gives the audience something to identify with, as the lines that follow might lose some people in terms of empathy. I also reworded “Is anybody watching me up there” (which I never liked either) so that it acknowledges the cliché somewhat.
    – Panya thought, that at the end, it could be more interesting if he traded something different for the flapjack. I loved this idea and spent a good amount of time thinking about what abstract nouns I could use instead, but ended up sticking with the packet of crisps because, well, I did trade him my packet of crisps, and I thought the normality of that image was important to the contrast of the escalating situation. The trade is also what the tracksuit jacket simile from earlier in the poem refers to.
    – I switch between past and present context on purpose, to highlight at which points the memory and imagery is most raw. Does this work? In most cases italics (or the manner with which I perform it) distinguish that these lines are different, but in this WordPress comment box I can’t turn on italics i don’t think. I’ll try and put it in with coding, hopefully it will work..

    I think that addresses most things. It still needs work, but overall I am much happier with this draft. Does the new ending work? I imagines it could be worded better.

    I was my father’s disappointment.
    I was the remote control flying at my head, let loose from my sister’s frustrations.
    I am still the sound of my mother’s voice when trouble is coming.

    From my youth where I felt disenfranchised, I could see the injustices committed by a hungry police force looking for food,
    and I could see the fickle nature of the things the government thought should be done instead, too.
    Felt like I was the only thing that is real –
    The last bastion of integrity in an otherwise desolate generation, and it was up to me to make that count.
    I worked out – forced the final push up which became the broken jaw,
    I was Deacon’s teeth blood-smeared on the black-tiled kitchen floor;
    The indifference of the dental bills;
    Chairs scraping on laminate as they’d move away when I’d arrive.
    This was the new way that I’d survive.
    I am the crack of white-tainted splinters in the door frame during the crime; the lingering scent of the security guard’s dead cigarettes in the gutter of the cathedral that I escape beside.
    It wouldn’t matter how many times I’d do this, but when I was up against that architecture’s domineering presence – I couldn’t help but wonder; was anybody watching me up there.

    But who cares – Thinking I’m the conservation of The New Truth, bossing poly-bagged evidence, boasting no conclusive proof.
    Yet somehow I find myself in the cells beneath the Magistrate’s Courtroom,
    And I’m staring into the eyes of a cellmate.
    Two-time killer.

    Now I dunno how old Caesar was. I’m tempted to say late-forties but in truth he had a demeanour which suggested older. The creases of his face – spattered with grey stubble – spoke with experience. Black hat hugging his head, he shuffled in his trackie jacket like an empty packet of crisps looking for dessert. Whilst on parole for his first, he killed a second man with a single punch – BANGED him once straight off the bus. Concussed on the pavement was wishful thinking, cuz now he’s six feet deep and Caesar’s sinking further with him.

    C’s vision glazed over, retracing his steps so as not to weep.
    Memories of the hiss of that bus: irrevocable.

    His eyes gleaned back wider, the lights reflecting off the lenses of his modest glasses.
    You could tell he is the kind of guy who can’t believe his luck – just as he knows the fact he’s fucked, and is becoming passionate about repeating it.

    – It’s the only thing he has to hold on to if his sentence is Life – like at least he knew it was coming.

    He looks at me like he’s looking at his son – tells me not to come back here.
    Grabs me by the hinges and tells me I can be bigger than this.
    Tired, he surmises in a voice on the verge of its final North West sunset:
    “You’re alright, Our Kid. I can see it in your shoes.”

    We’ve both slept with cold bench splinters in our backs and copper on our tongues.
    Disturbed by static, the tanoy is strung through the heatless room, and echoes:
    “Cell One : Ashburn”

    Two hours ago we traded a flapjack for a packet of crisps.
    Now he’s the last True man I’ve known, and I am his.
    And that’s True in totally different ways – see his truth is in the words he says,
    And I’m just true through the fact I’m free.
    But still, he hands over his hat and goes: “Wear this one for me”.
    “Wear this one for me.”

  4. Anne February 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    I’m really glad you’ve decided/half decided to perform this poem. The changes you’ve made have really tightened it up. I always liked the first line – probably because it has a punch to it. Everyone I’ve spoken to about SST4 seems overwhelmed at the moment and is wondering if they should/shouldn’t perform (me included). I reckon we should just get on and do it.

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