A Poem from Susan Clarke

Susan wrote an introduction to this poem, but I would rather post it after people read and comment.  A bit of a mystery perhaps as to the origin.

Lady Nyo.

A Randomness of Strangers

A randomness of strangers
Collective noun
For connections made through electronic portals.
Intimate anonymity
promising distraction
titillation
or shared secrets
behind a cloak of backlit glass and plastic.

Hasty liaisons made
with men who’ve randomly
selected my profile
attracted to feathered nakedness
education
or open expressions of lust.

Random intimacy
With people
I wouldn’t meet in other contexts
People I’d ignore
Outsiders in the realm
Of my daily existence.

But I admit their probing questions
their intrusions into my private world
And reply with candor
That is normally reserved
For confidantes.

Perhaps a random stranger
Can offer a random observation
or hold up a mirror
to expose some hidden part of me
through wisdom
born of complete ignorance
of who I am
or have been.

The anonymity of random strangers
can be comforting
within the confines
of the family home
where those who
know me most intimately
shield me from
understanding
myself.

Susan Clarke

Copyrighted, 2009

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2 Responses to “A Poem from Susan Clarke”

  1. Nick Nicholson Says:

    Hi Susan,

    I liked this poem. To me, it expressed an underlying tone of disappointment and regret but it maintained an emotional ‘dignity’ (if that’s the right word!) in that it never descended into wailing self-pity. The last stanza especially was particularly telling and insightful – that was my favourite bit!

    I understand why you’ve used the word “random” numerous times in this poem, but to my mind, the repetition got a little heavy-handed and overdone. I’d suggest keep the first “randomness of strangers” but then omit all the other instances and variations of the word “random”. Just try it, as an experiment. If I read it and mentally omit those words while reading, it seems to flow better and yet the underlying idea of randomness is still there.

    I think the wording could be tightened here and there, made more “poetic” perhaps (although it’s hard to describe what I mean by that – less prose-like maybe – some lines strike me as poetically awkward, such as “For connections made through electronic portals” and “Hasty liaisons made / with men who’ve randomly / selected my profile”). Perhaps an example would help get my meaning across. Here’s an ‘improvisation’ based on one of the stanzas – just to give you an idea of what I mean about culling the words down a bit to get to a more succinct expression.

    The observation of a stranger
    like a mirror
    exposing inner secrets
    through wisdom
    ignorant
    of who I am
    who I’ve been

    Of course, you may disagree with or dislike this idea entirely – no problem if you do!

    Some other comments:

    > Intimate anonymity

    or “anonymous intimacy”?

    > Hasty liaisons made
    > with men who’ve randomly
    > selected my profile
    > attracted to feathered nakedness
    > education
    > or open expressions of lust.

    Here, the use of ‘randomly’ doesn’t gel: if the profile was chosen because of the factors mentioned, then it’s not, strictly speaking, random.

    > And reply with candor
    > That is normally reserved
    > For confidantes.

    Suggestion:

    and reply with a candor
    normally reserved
    for confidantes

    Nick

    Like

  2. Susan Says:

    Nick, thank you for your thoughtful critique.

    I’m glad you discerned “emotional dignity”. I try to write with a distance that avoids self-pity – it’s a deliberate and practised act.

    I agree about the repetition of random. I to-and-froed about it but left it to maintain consistency but yes, it needs to be more moderate.

    I do like your suggested stanza. I don’t consider myself a poet so tend to be prose-like much of the time. It’s practise isn’t it?

    This is funny:

    > Intimate anonymity

    or “anonymous intimacy”?

    I struggled between the two for some time before choosing the first – you’re probably right – the second alternative is better.

    Good point about the profile choice and randomness.

    and yes, on the next point, much more succinct.

    Thanks again. I’ll do some more work.

    Susan

    Like

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