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(For my brother, 21)

There’s a photo of you, kid,
at six years old: cherubic.
Tawny-haired and chubby, like the guinea-pig you hold.
A Botticelli pieta.
You're cute.
It doesn’t suit you.
Even then, you took life straight
A child without artifice or art.

Always cheerful, taciturn and pliant
formed of knuckles, knees and rubber boots.
Did you ever cry? I don’t remember.
Guess you must have tantrumed, sulked and puked.

But they are born
who wear the world untailored.
Who take it on a grinning chin and thrive.
Paddling in the outsized oyster
maitre d’fate has served them
Talented at simply being alive.

Even adolescence’ anguished trainwreck
spat you out miraculously unharmed.
Others suffered cruelty and acne.
You grew bold and beautiful and charmed.

You’re sleeping on my couch right now,
while skeins of broken-hearted girls
(the ones you never mean to hurt)
spin full-lipped and forgiving
through your bright untroubled dreams.
You are golden-limbed and haloed;
loving, loved and thoughtless...
Tell me, brother,
How did you get born
with all the easy-going genes?

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The following comments are for "21"
by MobiusSoul

M-Soul's Brother
Caitlin- From scrapbook/slide show glimpses, your brother came to life. I could see him.

I've often wished to have had a sister. Am oldest of 4 boys. This piece is one more reason.

Tres Cool.


( Posted by: Bobby7L [Member] On: January 9, 2006 )

Lucie, B7L - the artless art of love
Thank you, Lucie – I’m specially pleased that you find some merit in the construction here, because although I like the underlying sentiments, I felt it was still a tad shoddy. I expect I’ll re-model it eventually. The idea was simply to write a love poem that wasn’t 'a love poem', and this is what emerged.

I think that ‘tone shift’ you detect is a side-effect of my reluctance to write things like this with out-and-out sincerity, in case it proves corny. I tried for a slightly tongue-in-cheek tone throughout in order to avoid that. And yes, wouldn’t it be nice (or disturbing?) if we could chose our own genes! Trust the boy in this poem to have chosen his with such easy, unconscious grace...

Bobby, knew you'd get it :) Now I too wish you'd had a sister, one who's wonky affection might, indeed, have spun off into a poem more graceful than this...

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: January 9, 2006 )

three cheers for out-and-out sincerity!
oh, Caitlin. this is magical. very lovely and clear, and lots of good glances at not just the boy, but what lies inside the boy. if I had a bit more of an editor's brain right now (I'm a bit fried/it's late) I'd pick away at your meter-choices and a few other minor points, but I also think you're likely sharp enough to do that yourself. let me just say that I ordinarily detest rhyme, but enjoyed the natural way the rhyme flowed here. didn't compromise the word choices. anyways... yes to this. I'd definitely recommend keeping it near the top of the pile. we can talk about this more, if you like.

did you show him?

( Posted by: ark [Member] On: January 13, 2006 )

Brotherly love-
Perhaps his sister's loving him had something to do with the perfection you imbue with this portrait?
I love it. My only brother was a month away from 20 when he died, many years ago- (I was 16)
How lovely, to envision brother sleeping on the couch, well loved and understood...
Liked this very much, and stirred the love of a brother in my heart-

( Posted by: emaks [Member] On: January 13, 2006 )

ark, emaks, *theatrical sob*...
... the way you were touched by this is so touching to me, it's frankly embarrassing! Weirdly, this feels like my most personal poem in ages... I was afraid I'd be blinded by sentiment and write a blitheringly crass poem as a result.

Ark... yes, my central idea was exactly to paint fragments of spirit via glimpses of physical reality... a way of keeping the emotional content in check? And rhyme vs word choice is often my biggest battle. I veer into rhyme unbidden, but always regret it because I hate writing poems rhyme-first, concept-second. Any views on technical points are always welcome... e.g. is it OK to pseudo-rhyme pieta/art instead of finding an overt rhyme for 'hold'? Both versions niggle at me.

Elizabeth... I've a lump in my throat. Both your sincerity, and the way it echoes in me. Only with my younger brother do I ever catch myself feeling maternal: really fearing harm to a huge, capable lad twice my size. Crazy? Maybe not. I'd wish your brother back to you if I could...

(Oh, and no, didn't show him. This seems paltry reason to break the cardinal rule of never showing anyone in my 'real life'!

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: January 14, 2006 )

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