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Tackling the Big Stuff with dVersePoets


Today at Meeting the Bar: Critiquing & Craft, Luke Prater has brought Julie Watkins by to help us poets with those big issues so many of us love to write about. Birth, death, loss…all those wonderful, emotional whirlwinds us humans are subjected to…and us poets just love to embrace as muse.  But how do we make it different, how do we make it stand out, how do we let OUR voice shine through?  Heaven knows there isn’t a poet past or present who hasn’t taken on tackling such defining moments?  Let’s see what we can get spinning over at dVersePoets… and in the mean time, feel free to read of one of my own, “defining moments”.

Rock Slide

Growing up next door to three vile little boys
meant some learning would come pretty quick for me.
The wonders that would be discovered
behind rotten barn doors, over mud pies and invisible champagne.
Beyond the wonders, even at that age
came condescending snickers, cause we all know
the girls could never keep up with the boys.
I did.

Beyond that rotten barn, where untamed wheat grew to grass
And snakes and toads danced amongst the cattails
of a long forgotten pond, now turned swamp
our fathers would hunt, in season or not.
And three vile little boys would celebrate their kills
when the crack of the rifle would echo into the night,
And this little girl, so much like a girl,
would cower deep under her covers and cry for the kill
but they never knew
I did.

On afternoons before supper and after a good days learning
we’d be allowed to play together,
in mud puddles and rock piles.
We’d fight till we were bleeding,
bloodied and bruised and to the victor went the Mount
where he could stand and shout with glee
“I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal”
But…
There was never a Queen, until the day I reached the Mount
and shirt torn, pig tails askew
I stood above them all and made them eat the dirt
they had thrown in my face to take the fight out of me.
They had never planned to let me win but
I did.

30 years later the rock piles are bigger
the risk of the fall at times overwhelming.
Around boulders of granite, on beds of loose pebbles.
I remember my five year old legs
and the godly strength they had, despite bruised knees,
band-aids and black fly scars.
30 years later, as I take my crown,
they rush to find cover as I send the rocks rolling,
knocking their feet out from under.
They stare in disbelief, this unsuspecting Queen
Because even as men, they had not planned to let me win,
But I did.

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16 thoughts on “Tackling the Big Stuff with dVersePoets

  1. Descriptive passages are strong here Tash and the repetition of 'I did' underpins the piece quite effectively. The length is justified because it is a true Narrative piece, i.e. it recounts a story (rather than being a meditation of an emotional moment/relationship/time and place that is static). In this sense it has the feel of a modern ballad. Much is straight told, rather than shown by way of poetic devices such as metaphor/personification etc, but in Narrative piece this is more appropriate than in much modern poetry. On tackling that big topic – I like the rockpiles metaphor, you bring it back strongly in the final stanza; however I felt you introduced it quite late on in the piece (Stanza 3 of 4). It would serve you better in my opinion to run with this analogy from the start and continue it throughout (pretty much). It feels like you have mixed it with a lot of other material, such as the 'I did's and the 'vile little boys'. Anything used as repetition device will quickly act as a backbone. If you mean for the rockpiles to be the central device by which you tackle your theme of growing up, and how you grew up, for me the rockpiles need introducing quite a bit earlier. The rep of those other phrases is fine (in fact they are a nice touch and help to give that ballad feel and underpin the narrative), but I'd try not to draw attention away from the rockpiles metaphor with other metaphors/analogies/figurative language in general. lot going for this, it's a nostalgic and interesting tale, quite touched you you shared it with us allCheers Tash, tanks for your support

  2. Excellent, Excellent!!! – growing up with boys in the country..how this rings in my ears the the black fly scars..I read Luke's review – I am not schooled enough to add or subtract..all I know is I like it very much…bkm

  3. Wow defintely quite the interesting taleI sat and wagged my tailI have no doubt you didKeep up and make them flip their lidBravo to youWonderful narrative tale tashtooTaught those boys/men you can keep up with their actAnd that is just a face it fact

  4. nice..you capture well the fight to keep up with the boys…the repitition of i did is strong through out…keep up the fight tash…those nasty old boys got a thing or two coming…smiles.

  5. Love it! I have several female friends who've made it to the top of the pile and you've perfectly illustrated the battle scars and hard-won victories. Still, they must vigilantly fight to maintain their reign. This narrative poem rocks!

  6. hey tash – i knew you were strong and you are!! thanks for taking us back to your childhood and i like that you spun the bridge into today's world…still lots of fighting for us women to keep up with the men—eh..? i think i don't even wanna keep up with them as we have our own strength and if we manage to shake hands, both, men and women can be winners without too many scars…smiles

  7. OMG I ran into those black flies up there. It was great weather and yet they covered one in an instant! I almost couldn't concentrate at first on your fine poem without remembering how everyone had on "beekeepeers" clothing and I just filled the car with one hand and kept shooing with the other. I bet they did leave scars – bad ones!I thought this was fine. You're so adept at bringing that NovaScotia to the fore in your work; so much that it defines you as a writer in a good way. I looked at the whole thing as a metaphor for a girl to woman rite of passage! Well done you!

  8. Hi TashSuch good work at the bar this week and so much variety – This style feels really good for your voice…if that makes any sense let me know?!/Simply – it works – it is solid, interesting and captivating.With some great lines for good measure.Like it alot!!!!!!!!!!

  9. nice piece, a strong one I must say, I like the sureness you put in, awareness self-whispered by repetition of "I did"

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