Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke

My Papa's Waltz

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

When you're young, mostly everything is all fun and games. Life is a breeze. You get hurt, Momma can kiss the boo boo away. I guess in a way, you aren't aware of things as much than if you were older. When you're older, you understand things better, you see things differently, and you have your own opinion.

When I first read this, I thought this was just another 'family moment' poem. It seemed almost natural since the tone of the poem was a little subtle. I honestly think the boy believes he is waltzing with his 'tipsy' father too. But after reading it a couple more times, I no longer believed that was necessarily the case. 

The idea of abuse or not though, still confuses me though. It's like. I want to believe they're just having fun dancing, but there are lines in the poem that just shout ABUSE! to me.

At every step you missed/ My right ear scraped a buckle. I mean, if you look at it in an innocent way, the dad's just a bit tipsy and of course naturally, you aren't in complete conscious control of your actions. Obviously you'll be slipping a bit, but is that just automatic abuse? Then if you look at it in a more complex view, the poem could be saying that this made up character is being abused for the mistakes the papa makes. Because of these mistakes, your 'missed steps', 'my right ear scraped a buckle'. This could possibly be saying that this poor character is being whipped.

My mother's countenance/ Could not unfrown itself. When your spouse acts the fool and is acting all tipsy, I don't expect you to be jumping for joy. Obviously you would be a bit annoyed. But at the same time, if abuse is happening in this situation, I know not everyone will speak up against it so this poem could also possibly be saying that the mom stood idly by not stopping it.

In my heart, I truly want to believe this is all play. I'm a true kid at heart. I can't see things in any other way because pain is one thing I don't take too well. Even if it's not my own pain, I feel the weight of that burden. But even though I can be blind at times, I won't be blind to the possibility of abuse. I'll just choose to be ignorant and ignore it.


I watch the pain behind those eyes
the tears fall as she begins to cry.
It isn't fair, why must he die?
I ask myself and I continue to cry.

I run to my room,
it's too much to handle,
This good young man,
This nice young groom.

I pray to God,
ask him to take me instead,
I have nothing ahead of me,
Not even a piece of bread.

My life is going downhill,

No job,

No money,

No food,

No clothes.

I have lived enough,
I have breathed too much.
He's far too young to experience death,
Perhaps it shall be me instead.

I watch the pain behind those eyes,
The tears fall as she continues to cry.
I punch the mirror,
And it begins to rain glass.

I watch through the reflection,
I see that poor woman.
She picks up some glass.


Saturday, January 22, 2011


The streets were bare,
With smoke in the air.
This is what I called Brooklyn.

Eyes closed,
And head down
There was no one to be found.

My dad sighed,
and my mom cried.
I didn't know what to do.

So I looked on out the window
But all I could see

Bare streets and smokey air.
I didn't know if I should care.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Northern Lights I Wish to See

Northern Lights
(Finland Northern Lights)

The sun rises,
The sun sets,
The stars come and go.
But alas I wait for thee,
These Northern Lights I wish to see.

With snow on the ground,
Or birds in the  trees,
Anytime of year,
I stay up after bedtime to watch these lights appear.

I eat,
I sleep,
Till the clock strikes eight
Promising Momma I won't be too late.

I lay in the snow,
I lay on the grass,
I watch faithfully beneath my eyeglass.

I stare away,
And let the silence take over,
Waiting for this magical dazzler.

I wait for my breath to disappear,
Because at last,
The Northern Lights are here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Response to "The Starry Night" by Anne Sexton

During class, we established Anne Sexton's poem, "The Starry Night" was a vague representation of her life and how she perceived it. 

Anne Sexton wrote "The Starry Night" in 1961. All throughout her poem were, what we interpreted as, potential suicide hints.

Among these lines, such include; 
Except where one black-haired tree slips up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
This is how I want to die.
To split from my life with no flag, no belly, no cry.

At first when we began to read this poem, I didn't think much of death or suicide. My first impression of this poem was, Wow! She must really think of this painting as out of this world beauty! As our class continued to discuss it, we boiled it down to a last attempt for someone to realize that she was a bit suicidal. I think what she most hoped to receive from this, was help. Her whole poem screams HELP! with beauty and elegance.

This poem is beautiful and depressing rolled into one. 
One last suicide note.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Interpreting Art

Observations: Top- Sunset or Sunrise skies; very textured; blue mixed in as well. Different shades of orange, pink, yellow, peach, and blue. Middle(ish) - Blue water . In the background- island shaped land with people on it under a big tent- like thing. 2 people are walking away from another person on the boardwalk. Person is screaming.
Inferences: Probably Sunset since most people aren't awake to watch the sun rise. Also the sun is not visible. The water looks like some sort of river or lake winding down to the boardwalk.Or is it a bridge? The screaming person seems to be scared or frightened. The other people walking ahead don't seem to notice. They don't turn back and they continue walking. The island- like structure in the distance has a few tiny figures that appear like humans. Above them, there is a blue- ish tent. It also looks a little like a boat. 
Interpretations: I like this painting because of all the colors. When Edward Munch painted this, I think he was trying to emphasize that the person was screaming and no one was paying much attention. Everyone else continued doing what they had been doing all along. I think this shows that not everyone will notice, or care, but you just have to get over it and continue walking down that boardwalk. I think the bright colors from the sky can represent the lighter issues, or the issues that aren't as huge as the darker (represented by the dark blue water) issues or problems in life.
Scream by Edward Munch