Elderly Lizette

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Elderly Lizette

Post  Karen on Sun Oct 26, 2014 4:20 pm

Hello Poets,

I am a novice.  I am working on ELDERLY LIZETTE for one of the NFSPS 2015 contests.  I know, I know.  Too ambitious.  But here I am, all the same.

Submission guidelines for this contest:
Subject: Domestic Cats, their endearing habits, intelligence, loyalty, beauty, etc.
Any form, 40 line limit

I expect not all of you are fond of housecats.  But!  That might make your critique particularly valuable.  The 2nd stanza is bothering me.  It seems a little clunky.  I am also worried about the stanzas with the 3-2-1 and 1-2-3 progression.  This material is from specific memories.  I'm afraid I'm assuming clarity that only exists in my mind. I'm not sure whether to be conventional and capitalize at the beginning of each line, or capitalize as in prose.  I'm also not completely thrilled with my punctuation.

Can you offer help with these and any other problems I don't know I have?

ELDERLY LIZETTE

Elderly Lizette rejects the cushion.
She seeks out the paper carton, folding
Neat her brittle bones, an origami.

She disdains the cozy padded armchair,
Floats up to the bathroom counter lightly,
Takes a colder comfort from the sink.

She ignores the water bowl, prefers to
Drink with flower pots, insinuates her
Tongue into the dishes underneath them.

Elderly Lizette selects, arranges
Three then two then one more kibbled morsel
On the woven mat for observation.

One then two then three, she eats them, has no
Need of more.  This will suffice.  She settles
Gingerly for morning meditation.

Elderly Lizette, her head a flower
Drooping on its stem, dreams not.  Instead she
Gazes on her two white paws' perfection.

Frail and sinuous, she stalks the kitchen,
Cares not for the proffered cheese, ignores the
Spider, pays no heed to conversation.

She does not attend the squirrel's antics
Or the sparrow at the window, seeks the
Ancient man, abides a while beside him.

Elderly Lizette, a wispy shadow,
Delicately curls, an angled circle,
In the mottled antique bowl and dozes.

Eight lives long, her silent movie flickers
On her eyelid screen.  She is content, and
Purrs, her multicolored kittens nursing.

Karen Hayes
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Welcome

Post  tsukany on Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:43 am

Karen,

I am not a fan of cat poems. Smile   Yours is not syrup, much to your credit.

Two things jump hard to me:  inversion and telling.  I would try to rid the poem of both.

You might try a version from a point of view of the cat.

I liked the last stanza, though I was surprised by the kittens.  I had the cat much older.

Todd
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Re: Elderly Lizette

Post  Karen on Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:35 am

I understand telling.  I've been smacked with that stick before, and for good reason.  I'll give it a shot from the point of view of the cat and see how it goes.


The cat in the poem IS very old.  I was trying to show the cat at the end of her 9th life, dreaming of the 8 lives that had passed.

I don't know what inversion means in this context.  Help?
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Inversion

Post  tsukany on Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:38 am

Karen,

I think of it as a deviation from normal word order (this is often necessary in verse or form poetry to keep the scheme going).

She seeks out the paper carton, folding Neat her brittle bones, an origami.


We would normally write this "She seeks out the paper carton, folding her brittle bones neatly, an origami."


That is a SUPER strong line, by the way.


Todd
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Welcome, Karen. Good to have you. Cat Poem.

Post  Pat on Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:54 am

I know the Encore book and I remember the Texas Ladies with the cat poems.  I just read a few of their winning poems.  The judge is definitely okay with first person.  I even sent one in one time.  No wins for me there, but it made me write a cat poem.  : ) 
I like the aloofness, the stillness, the lack of complaint.
I so like the calling her an origami.  That is a picture!  So is angled circle. And drooping flower! 
Ancient man and Elderly Lizette:   both, old.  Since you put elderly in the title, I wonder if you need it again in the poem.  Brittle bones says it. I stopped at floats up, but I think you are showing the grace with which she rose.  A lot of detail on how she eats morsels.  Not sure the reader requires all that.  Do you need the last stanza?  I often go past what the reader needs.   I wonder if you did that here.  Karen, instead of doze, I wanted it to be dreams.  Just a thought.
I played with it in first and second person:  I watch as you reject the cushion /and seek out the paper carton to fold brittle bones /to become an origami.  etc.  Just a way to maybe make it very present.  I like your verbs like:  settles, purrs, thing I can see in my mind's eye.
Her vibrato of purr:  she can still do it!   You know, she may be elderly, but look what she can see do:  she comforts an old man.  She still has meaning in her life.  Nice.  I think that cat lady judge Nancy Bass would appreciate that.  (I think her mother, the other judge, passed away.)  Those two women love cats. 
Karen, these are just my random thoughts.  I read and write, but I have no credentials to critique either.  We are just trying to help each other become better poets.  Feel free to cut my poems to the bone.  I need all the help I can get.  It may sting at first because I work hard on my poems, but I want the better poem.  These guys help that to happen.  Just take what fits and ignore the rest. 
I am glad to have you in the group.

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Not the cat's meow here

Post  dennis20 on Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:59 am

Karen,  Welcome to the Forum.  I have two comments.  Inversion--"Floats lightly up to the bathroom counter." This is how we would normally say it. (An extension of Todd's thoughts.)  End the poem at, "In the mottled antique bowl and dozes."  After all you have used "elderly Lizette" three times which is probably more than you should and "frail and sinuous" escorts the picture as well. You shouldn't tell us, too. Nice poem--other than about a cat.

dennis20
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Elderly Lizzette...

Post  Dewell H. Byrd on Fri Oct 31, 2014 3:58 pm

Welcome To The Forum, Karen.
I now use caps to start each line... after many tries Pat converted me to CAPS.  I would put the last stanza in the cat's litter box saving some of the images for another poem.   The kittens don't seem to fit this elderly cat unless she is just dreaming of her youth.  Yes, the 1, 2, 3 reps is a bit wearing.  I had some trouble with syntax.  It seemed German language structure in places.  Karen, this cat poem has some very lovely images and the verb usage is a real plus.  I like the dignity she has and the independence, too.   Keep working this poem.  I think it has the grist of a winner.  Dewell

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Re: Elderly Lizette

Post  Karen on Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:45 pm

I'm overwhelmed!  In the good way.  Thank you all for taking so much time with my poem.  Thanks too, for tolerating my subject.  I pledge not to be the Crazy Cat Poem Lady on this forum.

I am persuaded to ditch the 2 stanzas about eating the 3-2-1 morsels, but I want to keep fiddling with that last stanza.  I can't seem to leave the idea alone about the 8 lives.
  
I readily admit I am a slave to repetition and a minion of cadence.  I want to enjoy the sound and rhythm of the words, then the next thing I know I've contorted a decent thought into an unrecognizable tangle.  I find myself counting beats as I think through my lines, and I fear pattern takes precedence and runs away with my poem.

I think I will benefit a great deal from your company.
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Re: Elderly Lizette

Post  Karen on Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:58 pm

I'm also death on splitting infinitives.  I'm trying to improve.
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