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Forums > > Poetry Workshops > > Post a Poem > > Daniel
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Daniel


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chameleon
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 12:07:25 EDT 2009    Post subject: Daniel Reply with quote

Around the country, men your age
are raising fists and hoisting signs
joining their voices to shout down
reason and rational thought

they travel in packs like wolves
and every night they watch themselves
and celebrate their own temerity in

speaking TRUTH to power.

And there you are, sir,
white-haired and well-groomed
wearing your Sunday clothes amid
a church full of people
just like you,
thirty years past prime of life
daring to stand up and -
stumbling over words you sometimes forget -
tell your truth

speaking with quiet pain and dignity
of a country that has changed
sands shifting beneath your feet
to recreate a country you
no longer recognize as yours

you wander from the children you see today
who have never seen a doctor in their lives
to a time when the directors of Blue Cross
"took home $75,000 a year"
consulting your hand-written notes to check your figures
and ask how much has changed to make that job worth
over $600 million a year today?

The Senator thanks you for your years of service
and moves on to others, more impassioned and
louder, shouting about loss of freedom to choose
and rising taxes, demanding that the Senator
do everything in his power to keep the Congress
from taking over the country and forcing them all into...

something that they do not understand. You stay with me, though,
and unexpectedly I see a white-haired, aged Daniel
whose trembling hand outlined with dignity
the truth you still believe will change their minds.
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jh89
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 12:16:17 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

I am torn on the issue of healthcare reform. I love the power in this and it's approach on a different level than I have seen, which is welcome. I will not start a debate and or discussion here, I only ask that we the people appraoch any solution as we the people and not we the people that let others decide for us from either side of the argument. Sorry for " soapboxing " , I hope others offer more than I can being an untrained poet to make sure it stays stronger or becomes stronger.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 12:21:36 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

Powerful if not polarizing. This image is definitely playing out today and has played out during the birth of our country and long before it.

I love S5 and the line "sands shifting beneath your feet." So well put.

I think the poem would be better off without stanza 6. Too specific and too many details that bog down the pace of this poem and are otherwise implied by the changes you speak of. I have always felt that statistics make faceless numbers out of human lives that are easier to forget.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 13:20:11 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

Haven't read you for ages, enjoyed your post!

jh89 & Midnight made some good points.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 13:57:31 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback Smile. This IS a polarizing issue - and I appreciate it that no one is attacking the content on principle. This poem came out of watching a town hall meeting on C-span today - I was just -so- struck by the sincere emotion from this dignified, elderly gentleman. I admit that I struggled with S6 and agree that it bogs the poem down. Let me try a bit of incision here..

Town Hall

Around the country, men your age
are raising fists and hoisting signs
joining their voices to shout down
reason and rational thought

they travel in packs like wolves
and every night they watch themselves
on tv and celebrate their own temerity in

speaking TRUTH to power.

And there you are, sir,
white-haired and well-groomed
wearing your Sunday clothes amid
a church full of people
just like you,
thirty years past prime of life
daring to stand up and -
stumbling over words you sometimes forget -
tell your truth

speaking with quiet pain and dignity
of a country that has changed
sands shifting beneath your feet
to recreate a country you
no longer recognize as yours

you wander from point to point,
consulting your hand-written notes for
facts and figures that escape you, asking how a child today
reaches the age of five and never
sees a doctor? It wasn't like this, you tell them,
in all your forty years as a country GP.


The Senator thanks you for your years of service
and moves on to others, more impassioned and
louder, shouting about loss of freedom to choose
and rising taxes, demanding that the Senator
do everything in his power to keep the Congress
from taking over the country and forcing them all into...

something that they do not understand. You stay with me, though,
and unexpectedly I see a white-haired, aged Daniel
whose trembling hand outlined with dignity
the truth you still believe will change their minds.
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Deleted_User_1997
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 14:16:11 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

there is something about "thirty years past prime of life" line that is bugging me. I have been trying to figure out why. I can't quite pin point it though, but thought you might like to know.
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HSTeech
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15:29:57 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

This is a touching picture, Chameleon. Killer last line: "you still believe..." You've created an apt, sympathetic image here, of Daniel.

I prefer the edited S6- it's more human, and has achieved what MnP was talking about. When I read it, though, combined with the three last lines of the previous stanza, and the first line of the following one, the word(s) "you" and "yours" pop up a lot. 9x in 10 lines felt heavy to me.

I also tripped over the phrase Mayo mentions, and for me it was the lack of the word, "the." However, adding it would slow down the alliteration in that spot, and may sound harsh.

I like the personalness of this. It takes us off the NBC clips of the evening news, and brings it home.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 16:15:27 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

Thanks, Teech and Mayo. The "personalness" is something I like to pull out of big events. In the end, everything comes down to our humanity.

Town Hall

Around the country, men your age
are raising fists and hoisting signs
joining their voices to shout down
reason and rational thought

they travel in packs like wolves
and every night they watch themselves
on tv and celebrate their own temerity in

speaking TRUTH to power.

And there you are, sir,
white-haired and well-groomed
wearing your Sunday clothes amid
a church full of people
just like you,
thirty years beyond the prime of life
daring to stand up and -
stumbling over words you sometimes forget -
tell your truth

speaking with quiet pain and dignity
of a country that has shifted beneath your feet
into a land you no longer recognize


wandering from point to point,
you consult hand-written notes for
facts and figures that escape you,
ask how a child today
reaches the age of five and never
sees a doctor?

It's something I never saw, you tell them,
in forty years of taking care of children.


The Senator thanks you for your years of service
and moves on to others, more impassioned and
louder, shouting about loss of freedom to choose
and rising taxes, demanding that the Senator
do everything in his power to keep the Congress
from taking over the country and forcing them all into...

something that they do not understand. You stay with me, though,
and unexpectedly I see a white-haired, aged Daniel
whose trembling hand outlined with dignity
the truth you still believe will change their minds.

Better?
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 10:55:35 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

It almost reads like an editorial..which is ok. Topical poems are sometimes like that.

I am not on the same side of this issue as you are..but I rarely judge a poem by its content. I think you did a good job on this..you made your point in a manner that is passionate but civil, emotional but intelligent, all the while preserving the art within.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 10:58:58 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

I dig the edited stanza. Lighter and easier to get though!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 11:09:13 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

Thank you, fogglethorpe - your description of the poem is exactly the description I'd love to claim for myself as a person and a poet. It's a high compliment, especially from a person who prefaces the comment by saying he disagrees with the premise of the poem.

I have a question, though. Two non-poet friends who read this came away with the impression that the man in the poem was against health care reform. I'm actually okay with that, since my central premise is the contrast between his unshakable and quiet conviction and the behavior of others in the hall. Is it clear which side the man takes? Does it matter at all?
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 11:14:08 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

totally don't think it matters. What I came away with was the contrast in behavior. He is a spot of calm and wisdom in the shouting. His age suggests one thing, his words another. That is the way in which you are able spotlight the point, I believe.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 11:21:09 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

You paint the Dr. as a sympathetic figure who favors socialized medicine, and the senator as a so-called conservative who is against it. That is actually the opposite scenario of the town halls I've seen in the news. Still, the position of the characters in your poem seems pretty clear.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 11:40:46 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

Thanks, Teech - it's definitely the contrast between what he "looks like" and what he says that I'm going for - that and the fact that what he says is basically dismissed. One of my friends did the exact same thing - she skimmed over the words I attributed to him because she assumed from the setting and his age that he would espouse a particular viewpoint.

And Foggy, thanks again. We're obviously watching very different coverage - and the media attention to the extremes on both sides is part of my issue with the media. I spend a lot of time being called a traitor and a closet conservative because I point out how both sides of the debate are fostering divisiveness, and it is aided, abetted and packaged by the media in pursuit of "news". That, however, is a conversation for somewhere other than a poetry board.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 12:00:30 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

Great build up here. Reading the editing process is fun.
Great write and I love the content.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 15:31:55 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

chameleon wrote:

And Foggy, thanks again. We're obviously watching very different coverage - and the media attention to the extremes on both sides is part of my issue with the media. I spend a lot of time being called a traitor and a closet conservative because I point out how both sides of the debate are fostering divisiveness, and it is aided, abetted and packaged by the media in pursuit of "news". That, however, is a conversation for somewhere other than a poetry board.

I think it depends on which media outlet or form you listen to. Unfortunately, there is no longer any such thing as objective news reporting.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17 17:43:37 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

Thanks, NG. I occasionally like to edit in public because it's a learning exercise all around. It's a good way to get new writers who are so inclined to think about the way they make decisions about their writing.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19 10:04:27 EDT 2009    Post subject: Re: Daniel Reply with quote

And its interesting the political points made all around. I have seen very negative media coverage of the issue. To me this is so foolish, as they will say something to the effect of: Predsident Obama wants to waste all of our money. There are 46 million people without any health coverage in our country" The media is very strage sometimes, and sometimes very subjective. Bot the liberal and conservative media, I am talking about here.
And I love the final edit of your poem!

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