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  #1  
Unread 07-21-2021, 05:05 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Fat Old Women

Eight Fat Old Women

....Overheard in Southern California

“I can’t believe we have to wear masks again
just to save eight fat old women,” one
hipster, walking past me, told the other,
staring at me, no longer young nor thin.
Which crones would she gladly jettison? Her grandmother?
Her eighth-grade English teacher? Did she imagine
a merciful weeding of homeless crazies or
the clutter of ghosts at care facilities?
Of one thing I felt sure: she couldn’t picture
herself at seventy, softened by loss and sadness,
weighted with aches, regrets, lost fantasies,
and wanting nothing from life except some sweetness.


Revisions:
Title was "Overheard in Southern California" then "Fat Old Women"
L4 was "staring at me (who am neither young nor thin)." Then it was "staring at me, who am neither young nor thin."
L7 "weeding" was "whittling"

Last edited by Susan McLean; 07-29-2021 at 12:43 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 07-21-2021, 06:49 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I like this a lot. My only suggestion might be to add quatrain stanza breaks.
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  #3  
Unread 07-21-2021, 06:58 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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We canít trust anyone under thirty-two. The brain isnít fully myelinated until about twenty-five, and I was an idiot then. A nice idiot, but such an idiot. Itís amazing the human race survived when the average life span was about thirty years or so. I guess thatís how the weeding out took place. Idiots step forward: volunteer. Of course, some choices made in oneís teens can be right on. Solid, or so it still seems. Anyway....

This is a good read. No nits at present.
Best.
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  #4  
Unread 07-21-2021, 07:07 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Allen, I think life experience has an impact on young persons' perceptions of elderly persons. I mean, I became arthritic aged 12, and that changed things.

No nits from me either, Susan, but I'll watch this thread and pop back if I feel I can be of use to you.

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Unread 07-21-2021, 07:08 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Roger, I thought about dividing it into quatrains, but that would probably make it harder for the reader to pick up the eccentric scheme of slant rhymes. I mean for the connections to be there, but under the radar, as they are for the hipster in question.

Allen, I am glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Susan
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  #6  
Unread 07-21-2021, 07:36 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
I think the emotional honesty and plain language is spot on. There is no poetic scaffolding to get in the way. There is no pontificating, no anger, just a testament to the value of human life.

Both the meter and end-rhyming are phantom-like, just as the lives of the old women are viewed by the hipsters. (I wondered about the term hipsters but now realize it is accurate.) There are others who harbor the same attitude, but this poem is a specific response to a specific encounter with a specific people. In this case two hipsters. Agism is an insidious, phantom-like form of prejudice.

I like Roger's suggestion.
.
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  #7  
Unread 07-21-2021, 07:37 PM
Coleman Glenn Coleman Glenn is offline
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Susan, this is well done and poignant. The one thing I’m not sure about is the word “hipster” — for me, the connotations of that word are very specific and out of place in the poem (the Wikipedia article gives a pretty good overview, including the fact that the term is often pejorative - people don’t tend to self-identify as hipsters. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hips...ary_subculture) ). The term and concept have also become a little dated as well - I think a lot of elements of hipster culture have faded out over the last five years, or been subsumed by broader pop culture. Maybe “youngster”? That has problems as well; maybe “twenty-something,” but then you’d have to change the rest of the line for the meter. Sorry I can’t think of anything more helpful at the moment.

Edit: I think in particular what feels out of place is that many hipsters themselves have aged enough to know that they will get old. The stereotypical hipster in my mind is well into their thirties or early forties by now.

Last edited by Coleman Glenn; 07-21-2021 at 08:14 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 07-21-2021, 08:54 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Fliss, it's a true story, but it would not be true of all people the same age, as you say.

Jim and Coleman, about the term "hipster," it is not a word I use, and I would normally avoid it. This story is actually second-hand, though I tell it in the first person, and I use "hipster" because that is how the people involved were described to me. The encounter happened recently to my sister's best friend. But the interpretation is my own, imagining what my own reaction might have been if it had happened to me.

Susan
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  #9  
Unread 07-21-2021, 09:43 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is online now
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I like this a lot, too, and take the word hipster as a misnomer such as might fit the persona of the poem. An anachronistic or other misuse of the term seems fitting for this woman who has been made to feel "obsolete."

I count six beats in line 2 and four in line 8, while the others have five. Is that how youíre hearing them, Susan?
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Unread 07-21-2021, 11:26 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is online now
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I like Roger's quatrain recommendation, which would reinforce the paragraph-like feel of each of those stanzas. The interiority of the central one would also seem more appealingly quiet that way, I feel.

I was stunned (when I looked it up just now) to learn that "hipster" isn't exclusively male gendered, and even had female-specific origins in the 1930s. I've only heard it used in reference to guys. Huh.

I'm not sure the final quatrain is as effective as it could be. It seems like, as Bilbo Baggins once said, "thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread." It's obvious that the concept "She couldn't picture herself old" is coming; after it does, further pathetic details of oldness seem superfluous, and not very surprising, for several more lines. I'd prefer to have more zing there. Perhaps she couldn't picture herself being scorned by young people like her present self? (The thing is, though, this is exactly the type of person who would think things like "I'd kill myself before I ever got that old and disgusting," which requires imagining oneself that way and then rejecting it. It's a cocktail of one part empathy and five parts contempt.)

Sorry, not very helpful thoughts.
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