“Old Man with a Vanitas Still Life” by David Rijckaert III.‘I See a Friend’ and Other Poetry by Joseph Quintanilla The Society August 24, 2018 Culture, Deconstructing Communism, Human Rights in China, Poetry 9 Comments I See a Friend I see a friend, pull up a stool to talk to this old stupid fool. Both he and I at an impasse and left upset like sharpened glass. Much wisdom spouts from this buck young as liquid warmth does loose the tongue. Our quarrel grows and time does pass… rotation of the hourglass. The fool, his wife of 40 years, he left at home with her in tears. The blame of fault now a crevasse from bonds once vowed beneath stained glass. And with much courage in my veins with daggered words stab him with pains and spit upon him for his sass which slowly slides down mirrored glass. The Envelope He does his job… gets done his role… another dollar is his goal. And with the horn, to home a stroll (an envelope awaits there). A step or two, but could be more, he stops at sight upon the door. The cold upon his bones does pour. Another step, he won’t dare. His thoughts upon the box for post, his eyes blink not… but do stare. The envelope just sits there. With heaviness, closes the gap, with squinted eyes as if a trap. The postal box on him might snap and bite him like a black bear! The flutter of his heart within, much faster than it’s ever been. His head feels light and starts to spin. He stumbles in the night air. He must have knocked his head quite hard as on the stoop he lay there. Under his ear, some footwear. Awake does he now late at night… A neighbor man, “Are you alright?” “You gave my dear old mom a fright.” (That’s something that they both share) “You must have slipped on something wet.” “Can you repeat the alphabet?” “Remember from today’s Gazette?” and sits him in an armchair. A spot of blood there on his brow that leaks beneath his white hair. And yet his mind is elsewhere. His thoughts go back to ’51… the air too cold to hold a gun, yet hold he did, as everyone who may be faced with warfare. Of course, in war, there’s much bloodshed. For ‘god and country’ had he bled. And still he didn’t have this dread… and never once this despair! A lonely man against the tanks. Of this he is quite aware. “Oh, how this life… it’s unfair!” He thanks the man and goes inside. “Yes. I’m okay.” (but knows he lied). The lights stay off so he can hide from others and this nightmare. Today’s Gazette was plain to see. A story on the factory. He wipes the dirt from off his knee, the part where it is threadbare. Where did he put that sewing kit? His trousers they need repair. “It’s got to be here somewhere.” “Globalization seems absurd! Why send my job to China’s herd? What of the shipping costs incurred? Oh, can it really compare?” It seems the factory may close. Economy, you see, it slows. The profit margin hit new lows. Two years ago, cut healthcare. A massacre of all his hopes. He stands alone… solitaire. This his Tiananmen Square. He may have beat them once before, the time when he was in the Corps., but he can’t beat them anymore. And he’s too proud for welfare. Afraid the contents might be pink, he sits upon his chair to think and wishes he could have a drink. His cupboard though, it is bare. Now late at night he’s on his knees with eyes to God in some prayer. The envelope just sits there. Joseph Quintanilla is a 46-year-old property manager living in the U.S. Territory of Guam. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 9 Responses James A. Tweedie August 24, 2018 I enjoyed both poems. Each tells a story and presents a clear descriptive picture of the setting and events as they unfold. In “I See a Friend,” however, I find the syntax to be stretched beyond the point where the sense is able to come through easily (i.e. “his sass that slowly flows down mirrored glass.”?). Also, 50% of the rhymes involve the same word, “glass.” Was this intentional? I particularly enjoyed the complex structure of The Envelope. You carried it off very well, I think. My only issue was with the historical context. If the events are contemporaneous (2018) and the man was 18 years old in 1951 when he served in Korea, then he would be 85 years old and unlikely to still be working at a factory in fear of being laid off. The reference to Tiananmen Square, however, could place the poem back as early as 1989 when the man would have been around 56 years old. This would fit the story line quite well and I assume that this is the poem’s intention. Perhaps the matter could be clarified by adjusting the title to read, The Envelope (1989). Reply Joseph Quintanilla August 24, 2018 Hi Mr. Tweedie, The reuse of the the word “glass” was intentional, stretched syntax however, was not. Thank you for the point. I’ll try to be mindful of such in the future (and the point regarding clarity of time in which the poem takes place). You have given me something to study. Thank you. Reply C.B. Anderson August 24, 2018 Joe, I believe you asked me to comment when your poems came up, so here we go: Phrases like “does loose” & “does pass” are periphrastic and serve only to save the meter. This practice should be avoided if at all possible. Rephrasing should be possible even if it means finding a different end rhyme. This kind of construction sounds awkward and amateurish. Lines 3 & 4 have no verb, and you would have to punctuate differently (comma?) to make them dependent clauses of the previous sentence. An hourglass does not rotate; the earth does, and so do the hands of an analog clock. Lines 11 & 12 have no verb (like 3 & 4), so it isn’t really a sentence. I do like “once vowed beneath stained glass.” It’s a nice way to indicate a church wedding. “stab him with pains” is not idiomatic English. The last line leaves me wondering. Is it spittle that is sliding down mirrored glass? And is the solution to the riddle that this is a person looking at himself in the mirror? Next poem: More periphrastic usage of pro-verbs. And “he stops at sight upon the door.” just makes no sense. “He lay there on the stoop” would be OK, but “on the stoop he lay there.” just isn’t English. I could go on, but it’s not worth it. The writing is fragmented, without much payoff for such a long poem. One other thing about rhyme: rhyming sounds are best when the rhymed syllables are both accented; hence “WEL-fare” is not a good rhyme with “is BARE” And we don’t say, “The cupboard it is bare.” “The cupboard is bare” is more like it. I hope this helps. Reply Joseph Quintanilla August 24, 2018 Whoa! Guns blazing. Ha! Thanks! Maturity in my writing is my goal so thank you very much. You have given me a lot to think about. Reply Amy Foreman August 24, 2018 Joe– I think both James and C.B. have good points, . . . but I would like to mention an important point of my own: your poem, “The Envelope,” moved me emotionally, . . . and that’s not something every poem achieves. 🙂 I hope you keep writing and we get a chance to see your work as you continue! Blessings– Reply Joseph Quintanilla August 24, 2018 Thanks! I plan to keep writing and become a better poet (hopefully). Reply James A. Tweedie August 25, 2018 Joseph, To “become a better poet” you must aim high. These two poems show me that you are doing that very thing . . . and rising to the challenge remarkably well! I suggest that, if you haven’t done so already, you compose two or three sonnets and let the poetic form discipline and shape your thoughts. At its best, poetry, when read, should sound like elevated, inspired prose where neither proper grammar or ordinary speech are sacrificed for the sake of rhyme and meter. Read Milton’s “On His Blindness” as a good example of this. Read it out loud, not as a “poem” but as ordinary prose. Note how it makes sense when read this way. Note also that when it is read line by line with a full stop at each rhyme (as many poems require) it makes little sense and sounds awful. Milton is literally writing outside the lines. Try this out in sonnet form and then submit the one (or two) that turn out best. In any case, keep writing and keep submitting. I look forward to seeing more of your work. C.B. Anderson August 25, 2018 James, That was an interesting idea. I have been advised in the past by accomplished poets (to wit, Paul Christian Stevens) to read poetry sans end-stops, and especially to recite it so. Reply Joe Quintanilla August 26, 2018 Mr. Tweedie, Mr. Anderson, Noted and will do. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. 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