Streamlined

In some alternative reality
I have remained unmarried, all alone.
Would that have been a better way for me –
Some Spartan bachelor flat, my comfort zone?
Just having to look after number one:
Selfish perhaps, but oh, what liberation!
All the creative things I could have done –
Or would I be worn down by isolation?
No partner at my side, no family drama:
Without it, would the time have flown or dragged?
An emptier, simpler kind of panorama –
A life where one is neither kissed nor nagged,
Altogether lacking one dimension:
No sex, no love – but Lord! A lot less tension.

 

 

Blood Sacrifice

She seems, at first, an unlikely victim:
A comfortable life, uneventful,
No obvious cause to be resentful,
Emotions of a narrow spectrum.

The kids grown up and doing well,
Cash in the bank, the mortgage paid;
Her husband nice, if somewhat staid.
But she has secrets she can’t tell.

More and more, it fills her mind:
She hates this calm suburban world.
She wanted something as a girl,
Something that never was defined.

She always wanted something else.
She could have played so many parts –
Something creative in the arts.
Suburbia’s gods are cruel and false.

It’s something that she can’t explain,
a story she has never told
How she put her dreams on hold
And couldn’t get them back again.

She feels this sacrifice of her life
Just as if an Aztec priest
Cut the heart out of her chest
With his black obsidian knife.

 

 

David Whippman is a British poet, now retired after a career in healthcare. Over the years he’s had quite a few poems, articles and short stories published in various magazines.

 


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10 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    David, both of these were poignantly amusing, but I hope your life is better than that of these poems’ narrators. As Marvin Bell (I think) once wrote (to paraphrase): The narrator of a poem is not necessarily the author, but rather someone whom the author knows very well.

    Reply
    • Dave Whippman

      Thanks CB. The first poem is very autobiographical: a friend once described me as a confirmed bachelor who happened to have been married twice and fathered 2 kids! But yes, I think that all in all I’ve had a pretty good life – a few rocky patches, but couldn’t that be said for most of us? I’ve known solitude and family life, and all in all I have been very fortunate.

      Reply
  2. Monty

    These are both meaningful poems, Dave; and they’re both strong observations on what might be the greatest unanswerable question known to man: What if?

    In the first poem, many must be the men who’ve reached their 50’s, realised they’re trapped in a life which is now too late to change, and thought: ‘If only I knew at 20 what I know now; maybe I’d have chosen another path’. But they had no way of knowing at 20; that’s why the question ‘what if’ – as much as it must gnaw away at some men – will always remain unanswered.

    The second poem has the woman, at a similar stage of life, asking the same unanswerable question: ‘What if? It’s generally only at this stage of life that both man and woman can reflect upon how, in their younger and impressionable years, they simply just ‘followed the programme’: without thought, without question. They realise that they were subliminally programmed at a young age to think: “When I’m in my 20’s, I will be married with kids and a house, because that’s what people do; that’s the meaning of life”.

    Only upon reflection in later life may some start to decipher that their very act of ‘following the programme’ when they were young . . might’ve been the very act which hindered them from discovering what could’ve been the ‘real’ meaning of life.

    It may sound officious, Dave, but in the 8th line of the 2nd poem: given that it contains the word ‘secrets’ (plural) . . then the word ‘it’ in the 9th line should read ‘they’ (also plural) . . as in:
    ‘But she has secrets she can’t tell.
    More and more they fill her mind.

    Also, I feel that lines 11 and 13:
    ‘She wanted something as a girl’..
    ‘She always wanted something else’..
    are too similar in meaning to be placed only two lines apart.

    Reply
    • Dave Whippman

      Thanks Monty. As you say, “What if?” is indeed a momentous question, inevitably asked, I would guess, by almost everyone, though perhaps ultimately futile.
      Regarding the “it” in stanza 3; you’re not being at all officious. But I guess I was referring to her general unhappiness, rather then the aforementioned secrets.
      As regards the repetition of “wanted”, well, fair point, I’ll take that one on the chin!

      Reply
  3. James A. Tweedieq

    David, I won’t repeat what Monty said but will affirm it while adding two thoughts of my own. 1. The final stanza of Blood Sacrifice seems to be awkwardly out of rhythm with the rest of the poem. 2. On the other hand, I found the fifth stanza of Blood Sacrifice to be powerfully effective on many levels.

    It’s something that she can’t explain,
    a story she has never told
    How she put her dreams on hold
    And couldn’t get them back again.

    The stanza is poignant, precise, laser-focused and sadly, for many men as well as women, all too true. Pathos is a tricky thing to capture, especially in the brief space available in most poetry. You have captured and conveyed the feeling well in both poems. And that fifth stanza could stand as a meaningful poem all by itself.

    Reply
    • Dave Whippman

      Thank you James. Regarding the last stanza, I admit that I do tend to take liberties with the rhythm of a poem. Personally I think that in this case, it works, but anyway I appreciate any feedback.

      Reply
  4. C.B. Anderson

    Mr. Tweedieq, what tangled lives we lead, or follow, or, having nothing else to do, we acquiesce to. At every step of the way, everyone is looking for a way out, or perhaps a way in, or just an equable accommodation to things as they are. There are few good maps for navigating this temporal landscape, and the ones that exist are too often found to be beyond our capacity to follow.

    Reply
  5. James A. Tweedie

    Huh? The scary thing is that whatever it was that you just said sorta actually makes sense . . . Sorta . . . I think . . . Maybe . . .

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      James, I thought my narrative was fairly straightforward, but who am I to judge how other persons will read it? Life is a mystery, both for those who live them and for those who observe them. Did that help?

      Reply
      • James A. Tweedie

        Thank you. That confirms that what I thought you said was what you did, in fact, say. Happy 5th of May.

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