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Author: hanuman
ASL Info:    3 score & 10 & some!
Elite Ratio:    5.98 - 804 /1016 /239
Words: 278
Class/Type: Poetry /Serious
Total Views: 1392
Average Vote:    5.0000
Bytes: 1813


This happened to me recently exactly as I describe. There is poetry all around you if you know where to look.
Stylistically this poem owes something to Wordsworth and possibly to Coleridge.


In the Mountains of Mourne near County Down
We turned off down a narrow winding lane
Between pocket handkerchiefs of stone-walled fields,
Too small to support a family, deserted
Since the Great Famine, dotted with ruins,
Reclaimed by moss and mountain, moor and bog.

'Rare Breeds' the hopeful tourist sign had said,
But the lane petered out in a dead end wall.
Nettles, ragwort, ivy, smothered the verge;
Spleenworts and toadflax spattered the grey
With lime-green tufts and violet cascades.
Steep steps led up to a tiny house.

Very carefully but in eager haste
An old man scuttled down the concave steps,
Purple face a mass of capillaries,
His nose a bulbous ruin, his teeth stumps.
He gripped me by the arm and held me
Much too close within my personal space.

His brogue was as rough as his hob-nailed boots;
His peasant vernacular uncouth,
But his eyes were as bright as a robin's
As he told me of his wife ten years dead,
His unseen daughters married in Belfast,
His son killed in a railway accident.

His shiny-knee trousers with button flies
Had a smell of piss I could not avoid,
But he shook me by the hand, horny palm
And cracked yellow nails. He was amazed
When I told him we came from New Zealand
And not Ballyvally or Colligan Bridge.

I pulled free and guiltily drove away
To leave him to his daily loneliness.
As soon as we were round the bend I'm sure
He slowly climbed again his footworn flags,
To sit on his stool outside his kitchen door
To wait and watch, look down the winding lane.

Submitted on 2010-08-17 07:08:57     Terms of Service / Copyright Rules
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  This is such a stunning, striking portrait of loneliness, this old man with nature creeping up on him, his skin mottled like the wall, his body a ruin like the houses around him- there's a lot of parallelism here, in the images and the man, and your own discomfort with the situation.

It makes me think of going to visit my great nana in the old peoples' home- she was sharp as a tack and sprightly, I loved seeing her, but the other pensioners, they were so very old and frail and lonely, absolutely desperate for some kind of contact with a new human. It scared me, back then.

The style of this is pretty unique in this modern day and age- it harks back to some lost era, the pacing and cadence of it, the structured verses- it shows a real care for thought and words.

I'm not too keen on one line: 'Much too close within my personal space' because it feels a little clumsy and obvious compared to the rest of the poem. Though that could be just me.

I love how aptly the fifth stanza evokes age, decrepitness, physical trouble- how he struggles to even keep himself clean, now, and how sad it feels, especially because it's true. Older people with no-one to watch out for them get like this, often partly because they have nothing to do it for. They're just alone with their lives.

Your end- look down the winding line- I like how, if you think about it, you can't see down a winding lane, how this matches the fact that he can't see what's coming, if anybody, he's just left waiting and wondering.

And 'footworn flags' is a lovely phrase.

Definite fave, I really liked this.

Take care,

| Posted on 2010-08-22 00:00:00 | by AlyRose | [ Reply to This ]
  I read this to myself aloud, over and over again.I kept picturing myself with contact of a homeless man and his family.You were absolutely perfect with this piece.I do feel I read this how it should be read, following the punctuation.
I love the poem as a whole.There's no doubt about that but the second stanza made me take a closer look at whats going on.Then theres the fourth, fifth and sixth are the tip of the iceberg regarding accurate description and imagery.FAV
| Posted on 2010-08-21 00:00:00 | by Rex Gold | [ Reply to This ]
  Lovely imagery you have here, I have to admit the piece starts off a bit sluggish but past the second and third stanza it starts to pick up and unfold at a better pace.

Your descriptions of the old man was very mind provoking and painted the picture quite well. I feel that this must have been a strong experience, you describe it well.

I enjoyed it, thanks for sharing.
| Posted on 2010-08-18 00:00:00 | by Clayman | [ Reply to This ]

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