Dirty Paws

10 Feb

Dirty Paws

Take off your sequins,
that decorate my eyes.

Pull off the spider’s legs,
you grew for eyelashes.

I’ve never seen a monster
with soft skin. Before now

I never knew. You told me:
Moths are dead butterflies

that search for their heaven
in artificial lights.

You were the moth.
I was the only light.

You rummaged through my
Johnson Baby wiped skin

for gold – in hope to find
your heaven.

When you left me
alone.

I hummed songs – built
an Igloo in the cold of the room.

Crawled inside: rested my head
on my gorilla’s chest.

He mumbled stories.
We ate pizza and drank lemonade.

I’ve never seen a saviour
with rough skin. Before now

He banged his chest to the
beat of the rain outside.

Told me to clean my dirty paws
on his black chesty pillows.

Explained, nobody will see my
filthiness on the dark of his leather.

*Second Draft – feedback appreciated :)*
By Simone Estridge

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10 Responses to “Dirty Paws”

  1. Sacha Wise February 11, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    Hi Simone, I don’t think we have met. But I just wanted to say that this poem actually really emotionally stirred me… it was deep, beautiful and delicate. I really enjoyed the depth of meaning in the following stanzas…

    “Moths are dead butterflies

    that search for their heaven
    in artificial lights.

    You were the moth.
    I was the only light.

    You rummaged through my
    Johnson Baby wiped skin

    for gold – in hope to find
    your heaven.”

    AND

    “I’ve never seen a saviour
    with rough skin. Before now”

    Wow… I really enjoyed this poem a lot. Thank you for writing it.

    The suggestions I could have for improvements will be the poem starts in 2nd person, “you” then goes to 3rd person with “he/his” I don’t know if this was purposely done but I find it a bit disjointed when reading it.

    The line “We ate pizza and drank lemonade.” I find a bit weak… I like concept but maybe could be executed better.

    I am undecided about the line “When you left me alone”, as I am wondering if it really needs to be there or is there another way you can show this to the audience without saying it.

    A good friend who does poetry said to me recently, that you want to try and make the audience to make their own decisions without you telling them directly what it is about, that way it means something more to them and they hold it dearer to them. I suppose I am trying to say… does this line need to be there and if you feels it does then how else could you portray this…. without directly saying it, which is less powerful.

    I hope this is helpful… please feel free to use or not use any of my suggestions, and like I said I found this poem very emotionally stirring. Thank you.

    • Matt February 11, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

      Holy fruitcakes, that’s good. It feels longer than it actually is, in that there’s such an intricate story in there all expressed so succinctly. I read it, went ‘wow’, then looked back over it and was like ‘how is it that short? there’s so much in there’ – it’s brilliant.

      I’m struggling to find fault with it. I liked ‘when you left me alone.’ I like it because it has a full stop. With the rhythm of the poem that precedes it, it feels that ‘when you left me alone’ should be followed by a comma and another thought. But it isn’t, it’s just a full stop. This jarred me, so I re-read it, and it felt like ‘When you left me alone’ was fully intended as a stand-alone thought. Reading the line in this way, I really liked it, because it feels like it suggests so many unsaid things that lurk behind this poem and give it it’s depth. I hope the full stop wasn’t a mistake. If it was, i’d say keep it.

      Before now
      He banged his chest to the
      beat of the rain outside.

      Love this line. It’s rhythm and imagery and use of language is spot on. I have a question though. Is ‘before now’ supposed to be part of this? Does it follow on from the previous couplet? as you’ve done the same thing earlier with

      before now/
      I never knew

      it seems a deliberate structure, but I thought I’d check. With the gorilla image, it makes it less immediate and suggests a past to the character of the gorilla. This might be what you want, but it might not, so I thought I’d ask.

      My only other potential criticism (and I offer it tentatively) is to look at areas of repition. Some is clearly deliberate and works well but some seems less planned, such as

      -repitition of ‘eyes’ in first two couplets
      -repitition of ‘chest’ in the penultimate two couplets

      Just something to look at.

      This is so good though. Really really good. I like.

      Matt

      • mouthypoets February 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

        Heyy Matt,

        aww thank you for the feedback!!

        Glad you liked it :)…

        Yeah, I tried to make the line “alone” feel redundant and off balance, with it being on a separate line and the full stop, glad that came across.

        The way that I have structured:

        “I’ve never seen a monster
        with soft skin. Before now

        I never knew…”

        The “before now” in this stanza, was to be linked to the “I’ve never seen a monster with soft skin.” However I found that it also links in with the following line “I never knew. You told me:” – so I was thinking of a way to link the two. I thought keeping it in the same stanza as “I’ve never seen a monster…”, and ending without a full stop should link the stanzas. I’m not sure if it actually works though.
        I will have a think about that one.

        The second time I do it, I’m glad you pointed that out because there isn’t an actual purpose for it, apart from mirroring it previously. Yeah, I think reading that line again it does slow the image down. The second time round it works better if it is:

        “I’ve never seen a saviour
        with rough skin, before now.”

        I will have a look at the repetition too, I did notice I mentioned chest three times :-/ I will have a little think and see if I can rework some of the repeated words..

        Thank you… you’ve been really helpful 🙂

    • mouthypoets February 11, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

      Wow.. thanks for taking the time to comment and provide feedback, it’s really helpful. Yeah, I don’t think we have met before… Will you be there at SS4? It will be nice to meet you.
      That means a lot that it emotionally stirred you – because it meant a lot when I was writing it.

      Your feedback is helpful. 🙂 Interesting that you felt that way the 2nd and 3rd person narrative was disjointed, because I was wondering if it was clear enough.
      I have been tying to achieve two different characters. I was thinking to change the first half of the poem to be She/her as I feel that may be more personal and distinctive. Maybe something like this:

      I will take off her sequins,
      that decorate my eyes.

      Pull off the spider’s legs,
      she grew for eyelashes.

      I’ve never seen a monster
      with soft skin. Before now

      I never knew. She told me:
      Moths are dead butterflies

      that search for their heaven
      in artificial lights.

      She was the moth.
      I was the only light.

      She rummaged through my
      Johnson Baby wiped skin

      for gold – in hope to find
      your heaven.

      When she left me
      alone.

      What do you think?

      … Initially I tried to show the change of character by showing clearly that the first character left – “when you left me alone”. I did use this line due to the simplicity of the language.

      However, I totally understand what you mean by look to see if there is another way of putting this across, and possibly “tell” rather than show it.
      I will have a little play around. I was also trying to achieve a different tone on the second half of the poem, I don’t really know if this was achieved.

      Your suggestions are really helpful I shall have take them into consideration.

      Once again thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it 🙂

      Simone

  2. mouthypoets February 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    Hey, I kept seeing all these good comments popping up and had to see what all the fuss is about … WOW. Loved it. Really strong imagery and emotion, and as Matt said, it’s so succinct. I actualyl disagree with Sach about ‘we ate pizza and drank lemonade’, most of the other sentences have a lot going on in them and I think this very simple action is powerful and stands out against the other lines which are more detailed.

    The start is brilliant:

    Take off your sequins,
    that decorate my eyes.

    Looking forward to seeing you perform it.

    Lila

    • Sacha Wise February 11, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

      `Hey Simone…. yes I will be at SS4! Look forward to meeting you to… actually I would say that I am fairly new to editing poetry, writing poetry with structure myself and I am learning more every day so defo no expert at all! Just listen and love poetry and know what I like, which I cannot say at the moment if it comes from a technical perspective or a personal one….

      What I would say is I liked the original edit a lot! I have been thinking how much I like it and that maybe everything I learn does not have to apply to every piece of poetry you read… maybe some bits I have learnt along the way are inapplicable to your poem specifically. All I know is I really like the original edit more than when you changed it in your comment above.

      I think if you were trying to create two different characters in the original then that is clear enough… that was my original thought… but then I didn’t know after if this was your intention… hence the disjointed comment. There are definitely two separate parts to this poem. Knowing this was your intention makes me happier now.

      Overall I think you have created a piece of magic… regardless of any little changes you may or may not choose to make 😀 All I can say is thanks again!

      • mouthypoets February 11, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

        Hey Sacha,

        Well I’m still learning a lot too so it’s good to hear different points of view no harm in playing around with things and see what works and what doesn’t, thank you for the help, and the comments – appreciate it.. 😀
        See you at SS4

    • mouthypoets February 11, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

      Thank you for the comment Lila 🙂

  3. This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I
    have found something which helped me. Thanks!

    • mouthypoets July 23, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

      Thank you so much, what an amazing thing to say. How did we help? How can we help more?!?!?

      Stay in touch
      Debris (founder of Mouthy)

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