Friday, January 13, 2017

Rachael Mead #2

This poem is still in early draft form (only written a few days ago) so I would very much appreciate any and all feedback. To my mind, the second and fourth lines in particular feel clunky and I'm unsure about whether I'm overdoing the sentimentality on the last line.  Your opinions and suggestions are all welcome.  Thank you!

My mother was a lonesome cowboy 

after Cornelius Eady

Some think of country music as a lonesome cowboy
keening his heartbreak along to the radio in his pickup.
My mother would tell you about the man she followed,
blind as a cow trotting in the tracks of the Judas steer,
straight to the slaughter. He left her out west, with a heart
collapsing in on itself and a child with his eyes, learning
that the belly is the most vulnerable part of the beast.
She would say bad choices hang in the air like off notes
and that metaphors are just beautiful, empty lines.
She grafted her life back onto her childhood
and tried not to look her daughter in the eyes. 

I would tell you that a country song is a mother
who chose the wrong man, twice. The first from love,
unrequited. The second because heartbreak can make
even a poor choice feel like water in the desert.
What does a seven year old know of romance?
What can she do when her mother kneels down,
squeezes her hands and says be good, be quiet, be nice.
How can she know, when her mother chooses an instant
family of five, that the wrong man must seem better
than none at all. This is the way a country song works.
Don’t look your daughter in the eyes. It’s such a beautiful line.


  1. "blind as a cow trotting..." I think works perfectly, I wondered of the word 'song' in the second line might lift that up give some act to his keening and the radio, as they are presently there but less connected - I think that is what is troubling you. He is keening to the songs on the radio or the music or the singer, not simply the radio, it brings it closer, more image. Just a thought there.

  2. I think the second last line " this is the way a country song works might be best said more slightly to give more impact to that nice last line. It falls into being more facty for me with it there! But otherwise the poem is meaty for me.

  3. I agree with Kerri, the two last lines don't work as effectively as the beautiful flow of the others. The balance between bitterness and humour is certainly hard to keep, especially putting an end to the poem ...

  4. ah but I think this is so much better than your typical country song ... only a very few have this poise and emotional complexity ... it's what such a song might aspire to show
    ... I think it's all there but I agree that it doesn't feel quite finished

  5. Great piece and subject Rachael - sentimentle, deep and quite.
    re: line 2 and 4 How's:
    Some think of country music as a lonesome cowboy
    keen to sing his heartbreak to the radio on his pickup (wagon)
    blind as a cow trotting in the tracks of a steer turned Judas,
    have fun ...(:

  6. The previous comments cover most of the suggestions I would make, but I will say that during 12+ years in Texas I have never actually heard anyone refer to a "pickup truck" as a "pickup" - it's always just "truck." Most people even refer to an SUV as a "truck." I also think that the conclusion of the poem, "It's such a beautiful line," is too much telling. Otherwise, it's an excellent poem.

  7. Thanks so much everyone. There is much to mull over in these thoughtful suggestions - the next draft will definitely benefit from them. And thanks for the catch on the Texan vernacular, Nathanael!

  8. No worries. Or as they say round here, "Y'all are welcome!"