Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Poem: What You Take with You

My father eats cherries and pistachios. My father
eats fruitcake. My father eats Seville marmalade
with a teaspoon. As he eats, I see how neat his

hair is above his ears. It is a silvery grey like polished 
pewter. I know he used nail scissors to cut it. His ears
are like his mother’s, I think - they will continue to grow

until they are noticeable. She had large ears by the time
she died, but seemed unconcerned. Her skin,
she would say, was soft French skin - touch it! - the more

the better! I remember them both helpless with laughter
at a kafenion in Pireaus     - Stasou! - Stasou!
It hurt to laugh so much. When my father laughs he stamps his feet. 

Cherries and pistachios.

I give him some to take home.  I have nothing else to give him. But
I want to, I desperately want to find something more. I want to load
him with things that are rich and red and salty and sweet. He puts on

his leather coat and wades backwards into the dark.

                                                                                        Mary McCallum

And here is a first ever review of a poem of mine. I am still grinning ...

and for more Tuesday Poems click on the quill in the sidebar.

Note: title change at 8.33 pm Tuesday Nov 2.


TK Roxborogh said...

not only is your poem breath-taking but the critique also. Thanks for providing my lesson content for my high achieving Y12s. I will show them this get them to reflect and them show them the other and the and the commentary and demand they respond to it.
Go on - was he right??

Helen Lowe said...

Mary, I like the layers of this poem--and yes, 'woot' to the discussion of the Pink T-Short poem by Zireaux.

Helen said...

That's so lovely Mary. How exciting, your first poetry review! Bravo :-)

maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

Mary, your cup (ha, had to use the word cup :) runneth over with reviews (kathleen Jones and Zireaux) and not a nest, nestling, or cupping in sight :) I do like the idea of hair being clipped with nail scissors and I wondered what "stassou" meant - part of a song?

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks Tania, Helen, Helen and Maggie. Love to know what the Year 12s think Tania. As I said to Zireaux - it's an 'oh' of a post and I couldn't stop smiling after reading it... I like to think of leading a D-cup poetry rebellion... lots to think about there. Maggie, 'stassou' - more properly spelt as 'stasou' (now changed) strictly means 'wait' but my Dad would use it to mean 'stop' sometimes (they were laughing so much - needed to stop).

Kathleen Jones said...

I liked both poems - the character study of your father is lovely and the pink T-shirt really made me smile. I thought the review was very pithy, intelligent and to the point. Congratulations!

Rachel Fenton said...

Wonderfully humerous review, and like so much humour, an oyster knife of criticism slipping unnoticed under the flesh. I'd be smiling, too. I enjoyed that poem when you posted it.

This is a very tender portrait, and so much to give, Mary.

Anonymous said...

Should we understand from the linked review that after your FIRST poetry review ever, of ONE poem,online, you should feature in a book about New Zealand poets? Is there any possibility of you getting ahead of yourself....? This kind of confidence is great, but is it...right? Should you be training your guns on straight literary commentators because they question????? Are you becoming a bit... tyrannical? Ever heard of...humility....? Or, honing your talent...over time...? Like most artists...?

Mary McCallum said...

Whoa Anon - you're absolutely right - crazy to be in a big book about poetry without much of a track record in publishing terms. Nice of Zireaux but crazy. As for honing - I've been doing that for 40 years - mostly under the radar. Nice, therefore, to have a review like that. Really nice.

Fiona Kidman said...

I read the anonymous comment open-mouthed with astonishment. Can't this person read? Someone else suggested it would have been good to see Mary's work noted in' 99 ways',
not Mary herself. Nor, I imagine, would a level headed person like Mary have been put out by omission. Her work has taken the blogoshpere by storm quite recently and the editors would have finished off their selection and comments for '99 Ways' some time ago.

Anonymous takes a mean spirited approach to an emerging poet who we will hear a great deal about in the future. Mary McCallum's reviewer should take a bow for recognizing early the quality of her poetry.

Meanwhile, other writers may thank this generous joyful woman for her warm-hearted endorsement of work other than her own.

Anonymous should focus on finding a life, possibly under a rock.

Anonymous said...

OK, I was coming on a bit strong, but really... I think Mary's response is a gracious, rational, sane, non-aggressive one, as one would expect. No need for directing people under rocks - this isn't a bar fight, it's talking about a book on NZ poetry, isn't it? Whether such a book should include emerging poets from the blogosphere, who are unpublished. (It could end up quite a gigantic book!) These questions are not personal. In fact, I don't know why I commented - what came over me? How mad and dangerous! Goodbye! I'm going back under the rock, forever!

Rachel Fenton said...

I think there's a very interesting debate lurking under these stones, about what makes a poet in these times of blog, tweet, and facebook; talent versus promotion skills etc. However, I don't think it's fair to use Mary's blog to host it. We all have our personal views on one issue or another, the internet is opinion soup, but the proof is in the pudding, is it not? Let the poems speak for themselves; and Mary's can and do. Shhh; listen.

Fiona Kidman said...

All right Anonymous, you can come out from the rock. My point is, while it's easy to knock in this odd little literary community of ours, it's not always so easy to celebrate the success of others.

Sometimes I fear we may simply wake up one morning and find we've knocked so many writers off that there isn't a New Zealand literature any more. Call me Pollyana if you like, but I'm all for a bit of literary knees up. Go Mary, go.

Anonymous said...

Okay, for what it's worth, this is all a bit strange. It would be nice for Mary to get the Z's review, but the review's not altogether nice to the authors of the 99 book. With its reference to "inflicting wounds" and "ruffled feathers" it seems to be implying that malice is afoot - and perhaps even that Mary has been kept out of the book because of some malice?
Which is crazy, right? Mary couldn't ruffle anyone's feathers, she's too nice. And she's not a published poet, except online, so it's a bit early days for inclusion. What exactly is he on about?