Do You Like It?

of course you like it
your son made it
you like everything
he makes at school

but you paused a little too long
before you replied to his question

uhm… I like how much blue you used
and these black lines here
they’re bold and uhm…
I like the way they flow

what’s bold he asks
and you say brave fearless

good he says
’cause it’s a policeman

I like your bold policeman you say
relieved that he seems satisfied
with your response

let’s put it on the refrigerator
you say hoping to close the deal

okay he says

after he’s gone to sleep
you stare at the bold policeman
in your kitchen
but you still can’t see him there

the strange shape
its asymmetry
a little frightening

you wish
you could see
what he sees

more in his mind’s eye
than on the page

when you realize
how much you’ve lost

/ / /

This poem was written in response to the Sometimes something surprising! prompt at We Write Poems.

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28 thoughts on “Do You Like It?

  1. Richard:
    There are times when reading poetry these lines fit, for me:

    you wish
    you could see
    what he sees

    more in his mind’s eye
    than on the page

    The more abstract the poem, the harder it is for me to “get it”. But what I’ve learned these past few months (I’ve read more poetry in the past 5 months than in the prior 44 years combined!) is that even though I might not see what the poet saw when writing it, I CAN still see SOMEthing. I can still get something from it–just like the “boldness” that came through the child’s drawing.

    Thanks for this one…which has encouraged me to not just brush past those poems I don’t “get” upon first reading.
    ~Paula

    • Paula, thank you. I think that’s one of the great things about poetry, is that the reader sometimes sees things that even the poet didn’t intend, and yet it’s there. And that’s amazing; I love it when that happens.

      I know what you mean. There are some poems that I do brush aside. That’s another benefit of writing to a prompt and then seeing what others have written; you have something in common. It can be heard to read a poem that is unprompted, for which we have no reference except the poem itself. Of course, if it works, then it’s a sign of a good poem,because it’s not held up by anything else.

      As always, thank you for your frequent visits – and for your kind and thoughtful comments.

      Richard

    • Pamela, I agree. That’s what the second part of this poem is about for me, that loss of innocence. And it would be a nicer world; we would be nicer to each other. Thanks.

      Richard

  2. I do like this, Richard.

    I found the parental ansgt interesting; is it based on personal experience? When my boys were young I could never see what they saw but I didn’t worry about it. We all see the world differently 🙂

    • Tilly, thank you. It’s not based on any particular incident. And it reflects more of who I am than anything else. I think too much. And sometimes, particularly with children, it’s best to “think” with one’s heart rather than one’s head. That’s something, as a father, that I’ve had to learn. It’s also hard to tell them that honesty is important, when we’re not completely honest with them. (See, I think too much).

      Richard

  3. Nicely done Richard! Precisely done to the prompt (not that it really matters so much… ) but yes, very well done indeed! The story inside the poem well presented, a common thread we can easily follow, understand, yet the surprise all the more discovered and realized as for both yourself within the poem AND for us as reader-participant. I am much thankful for your participation with us here. ~neil

    • Neil, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. I had to respond to this prompt; as a father and teacher, it really spoke to me, so this was a natural place for me to go with this one. Wow, I didn’t intend that double surprise, so… thank you for pointing that out. I truly appreciate it. I’m thankful for We Write Poems; I plan on being there every week.

      Richard

  4. Richard, This is quite touching. My daughter is 15, and I often feel like she doesn’t think I get her. Then I have those startling moments where I realize she’s right. We love them through everything with ferocity and tenderness.

  5. I think we forget that we loom large in a child’s perspective, forget that we too used to see in the same manner. You explore that well in your poem. I like the honesty, and the awareness you resolve within your own words. I’m glad you like We Write Poems and very glad you intend to stick around. You poems are always thoughtful, Richard, but never over bearing in that process. Really good writing,

    Elizabeth
    http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/

    • Elizabeth, thank you so much. You said it so well, how we “loom large” and that we “used to see in the same manner.” Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words.

      Something opened up in me this past April, and I have no intention of letting it close again. I must keep writing. And We Write Poems is definitely part of that for me; I’m happy to be part of that “we”.

      Richard

  6. The growing/learning process of children jumps back and forth in stages. Their early, indecipherable art and stick figures hold great meaning–to them. Later, they try to make things look real, sometimes talent blooms it does look real, but the language is more the adult’s than the child’s. Something wonderful is lost. The best part is in living it all again through grandchildren. Once they leave you behind, all that’s left is to revel in their successes, which you can’t share.

    • Mike, awesome words – you’re so right. Thank you. My boys are a great source of joy for me; and I hope that I’ll be a grandfather too someday, but that’s a long way off. I like to think that teaching keeps me young, that something youthful and wonderful rubs off on me in working with young people day in day out. I’ll never regain that innocence, return to that stage of development, but they constantly remind me of how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go.

      Richard

  7. Eavesdropping, Richard, but I’m really glad something opened up in you this past April. I could identify with that. Something unstoppable. It seems you regained something lost like your surprise ending.

    • Irene, it is a bit like eavesdropping, isn’t it? Don’t mind you doing it in the least. I’m glad too. I am having such a great time writing, reading others’ poems, and connecting with people online. I think I did regain something that I had lost. It’s good that some things can be picked up again, and for that I’m grateful. The surprise is how much pleasure it brings me.

      Richard

  8. It’s interesting to read all these comments after reading your inspired (and inspiring) poem: Each comment raises new perspective on how we read poetry, interpret art and get inside the heads of our children and grandchildren. I chose a similar theme to yours, but if I’d read your poem before writing, I’d have given up in despair!

  9. Viv, I ‘m glad you wrote the poem you did. I identified with it, that gap between parent and child. I’m glad you showed those perspectives in your poem.

    It is interesting. I’m pleasantly surprised how this has brought up different things for different people. Your insight into poetry, art, and children is right on target.

    Richard

    • versebender, thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments. It is all about love and imagination, isn’t it? I like the way you said that. Thanks.

      Richard

  10. I really like this poem. A very accessible poem with layers that reveal a new thought with each read. This little scene is captured perfectly — the hesitation in the parent’s response, so careful and you almost sigh with relief along with him/her when the kid finally reveals that it is a policeman he’s depicting and hasn’t seem to catch on that no one else has a clue what it is. The second half of the poem is very insightful, putting the drawing on the fridge isn’t the end of the story, rather it becomes a reminder or a sign of how different the parent and the child sees things and expresses them. There’s a sense of lost at the end in way that is probably more like “I wonder what else I could’ve missed” rather than something concrete, I think.

    • Ravenblack, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful reply. I’m glad now that I left the second part in. I almost left out those last few stanzas, ending the poem when the boy says “okay”. I’m also glad to hear that it’s accessible; I hope that all my poems are accessible. But also glad to hear that there’s some depth there that reveals itself with rereading. Thank you again.

      Richard

  11. Well put. I could identify with this. I have a picture on the wall in my study which is eighteen years old. My son proudly gave it to me when he was six. I asked him what it was. He looked at me as if I’d finally lost it and replied with exaggerated patience ‘It’s a man eating a banana, of course, Mum.’

    Well, of course it is. If he says so. The banana is identifiable but HUGE and the ‘man’ is a bright blue scribble on the side. More like a fly. I love this picture.

    It’s all a question of perception and point of view, isn’t it.

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