View Full Version : a mug, posthumously

01-27-2016, 04:08 AM
The years have neglected you, cast aside
among the common trash—but I can see
beyond your gaudy flower motif,
the history in your ceramic wounds:

the lipstick from some lover, caked and hard
on one side—the chipped curve across from it;
your smoothed out stubs that denote a phantom
handle where fingers grasped to fight the cold;
the browned ring mid-way down... the last sip
survived by thriving colonies of mould.

The years have neglected you, cast aside
among the common trash—but even there
despite your faded sheen, cracked purple coat,
I envy how your scars betray your past.

01-27-2016, 06:06 AM
I love it, Kie -- the imagery and especially the title and the last line. Thank you for sharing it.

Heh. It immediately called to mind an ancient, handle-less mug I have kept tucked away in the back of my cupboard for sentimental reasons. Reading this, I now know why I can't throw it away. (It has survived a couple of moves now, though I do not use it.) I and it share some scars.

01-27-2016, 08:59 AM
This is a thing of beauty, Kie. One thing I love about it: it's very clearly a poem. With all the discussion we have about what constitutes poetry, I'd be very ready to point to this superb ode as a fine example.

A couple of things that, to me, shine from a well-formed poem:

It feels complete and continuous; nothing feels loose, out of place, or unnecessary. Equally, nothing is wanting.
The poem and the reader finish together - not a closure, but a feeling that the poem's left the reader just where it means to.
The poem and the subject are the same size - the subject fits neatly in the poem's frame.

These things aren't prescriptive, nor are they rules - but to me, they convey a sense of poem-ness.

Short version: a good poem is both fulfilling and complete. Careful workmanship shows in this completeness and the ease of reading.

And that is very much what I find here. I know how skilled you are, but I also know you didn't just dash it off. (Even if it's a first draft, I know you've gone over it with care before you showed it to the world.)

What do I find satisfying or breathtaking here?

The sensitive personification of the mug: the second-person address, the noticing of human traits like wounds, neglect and a past. Posthumous.
The humour: Gaudy patterns, caked lipstick, and browned rings: how do you manage to turn a broken coffee mug into a faded libertine? Magic!
The rigor of pentameter, even to the sonnet form -- but the art of making it sound natural, even unnoticed. That is music.
Textures of sound and juxtapositions of images: lipstick from a lover (caked and hard - comes from trusting too often, perhaps), survived by thriving colonies. The phantom handle.
The revisiting of the opening address, with a shift of perspective that comes from exposition. You open and close the case, neatly, in the space of fourteen lines.

This is a poem that leaps out and clings to me. It reminds me, with force and tenderness, why I love poetry, and that there are things that only poetry can do.

Really, really a wonderful poem, Kie.

01-27-2016, 03:12 PM
Wow! Thanks both...

Rob, I really enjoyed your post and succinct attempt at defining the guts of what makes a poem for you.

I once said in my poet laureate Q+A that poetry can be found in even the most mundane and seemingly unimportant artifacts. After all, we share our lives with an abundance of inanimate objects, they observe us, they absorb scenes from us, we imprint them with little touches of life. I'd like to think that this poem somehow goes toward that same point. I wanted to illustrate a life-cycle, a living breathing existence in things cast away or commonly ignored. I'm glad it worked on a level and that there is acceptance of that concept. I was thinking of starting a new exercise thread that focused on bland and commonplace objects. The first poster would write a poem about some inanimate thing and then suggest the subject of the post to follow. While putting my thoughts down, this poem emerged and I decided it more fitting to have a place of its own ;)

The exercise thread can come later--perhaps...

01-28-2016, 01:03 AM
I really enjoyed this relatable poem. The closing brings emotions to the fore in a very satisfying way. Nicely done!

01-28-2016, 03:20 AM
A cast off mug. With the skills and will it becomes a work of art. There's a great series of photos by David Douglas Duncan of Picasso eating a fish dinner then turning the bones into art. Your mug reminds me, to a tuned in poet there's a poem in everything. Good choice in the mug though, you illustrate beautifully how intimate we become with even the small things in life.

Thanks for the read, great idea for a thread, too.

01-28-2016, 04:31 AM
Hi & Hey, there's not much to add since Poet said it all!! Enjoyed this again this am (drinking from a soon-to-be posthumously mug) with whipped cream & cinnamon.

01-28-2016, 05:09 PM
This really is fantastic, Kie. Truly excellent.

01-28-2016, 05:35 PM
I can picture this scene in my mind. Love this!

kurt behm
02-01-2016, 08:09 AM
"I envy how your scars betray your past" .... just love it!