Monday, February 6, 2017

Chrysogonus Siddha #6 - gambuh

~ sixth song ~

a buzzing lamp, the only witness
last drop of tea tossed down
his throat from a giant cup

that big man, my grandfather
sat alone by the table, empty
plates from his dinner remained

on a brown lazy susan, four chairs
stood in the room, three were empty
just spaces for the light to sit

two had no importance for him
only that  seat to his right mattered
being for the ghost only he could see

already there four years, taking the place
of a flesh-and-blood woman, his company
for every meal, before and since her dementia

this was the one face he could always conjure up
from memory, made real with the help
of one or two thin flasks of vodka

stored in his fridge, just within reach
conveniently placed, next to the insulin
maybe a gulp for tonight, a quick one

elixir sating a thirst for seeing
details of that face once again
before eyes called for sleep

a buzzing lamp, the only witness
last dram gulped down

his throat from a giant’s cup


  1. This is the sixth entry for the song cycle. It is supposed to be about 'marriage' that follows after 'love' in the fifth entry. However, this is more of a look back of the marriage.

    1. Does this still work as a part of the cycle?
    2. Does this work as a finished poem?

  2. Hi Chrys, I’d say Yes to both questions. I like the repetition of a buzzing lamp, the only witness, and the melancholy that suffuses the piece. I also like the last line and the overall shape of it (bulging in the middle). But I think it’s just a bit prosaic for a song and might be improved by removing a few extraneous words. For example, you could take out sat in the second stanza. To sit could be removed from the third stanza. I’d go through it and remove whatever comes out without impact - to increase the flow and power of what’s left and really amp up the sense of loss.

  3. maybe they're not really songs, but more like descriptions of songs? or settings for songs?

  4. Well, to be honest, even though Macapat is really a song cycle, I wanted to write a series of poems based on the theme of each song there.

  5. Hi Chrys, I'd answer yes to your two questions, and as kit mentioned, these poems are more about settings for songs to my eyes, rather than real songs. I feel you could do better to enhance the melancholy atmosphere. It's like we are looking at a distance,hearing the grandson's comments which are needed of course, but sometimes I would like to be inside the grandpa's mind, inside his very heart ... let us see the details of this loved face, let us share with him the effect of alcohol ...

  6. I think this is teetering on the edge of the finished poem. I feel a large hand coming sweeping through the air, something, some action between this intently knowing child/man and the ancestor. It would be the binder, in my view. How hard or how slight, is up to you.