Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A glass of orange juice.




A glass of orange juice lights up the kitchen.
The juice is spilling over the brim.
Olaf picks it up, and it dribbles over
his knuckles, and through his fingers, spilling
onto the carpet.

'You're getting juice all over the place, Olaf!
You'll! ruin the carpet!
A passerby shouts from the back lane
through the open kitchen door.
'Why must you fill your glass so full!'

Olaf turns and winks at the passerby.
'Don't worry, my friend, carpets can be replaced,
but life must be drunk rapidly with affirmation,
even if there must, on occasion, be horrible spillages.'

Olaf, with precise intent, drunk the juice
in three large swift pure orange gulps
some of which pour down his cheeks and chin
then wipes the juice from his joke mouth
with his white shirt sleeve, before he exclaims:
'You see, I have just answered a question!'

The passerby looks at Olaf curiously,
and then with a jolt
they burst into easy laughter.

3 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

I enjoyed this one. Shame I had to wait so long for a fresh entry.

A few thoughts:

I like the idea of the passerby but I'm having a hard time imagining him passing by an open kitchen door like that. Kitchens are normally at the back of houses. I'm sure it's not impossible but it feels unlikely. I am, of course, placing the action in Glasgow but with a name like Olaf it's quite possible this takes place in some European country.

To my ear 'It will stick and stain, and it will ruin the carpet!' is too long. If someone was spilling juice on my carpet all I'd say would be, "You'll ruin the carpet!" – time is a factor, you want him to stop spilling his drink as soon as possible.

I don't think you need the last line. I would suggest dropping it completely. It feels like it's explaining a moment that goes beyond words. The two men look at each other, an understanding passes between them, and they burst into laughter.

Three small points, in the first line, should 'lites' not be 'lights'? And, although it would be acceptable in Glasgow to say 'drunk the juice' I would be tempted to say 'drank' or even 'drinks' because the whole poem is in the present. Also when Olaf is drinking the juice you use the verb 'pour' for what goes down his face – it seems a little strong and I might go for 'runs' instead.

All observations aside, I like this one very much and, as you can see, there's nothing major I would suggest changing. I also think it's a lot more poetic than 'Pancakes'. I like Olaf a lot. Well done.

McGuire said...

Sound advice, Jim, thank you.

I need a course in editing, so many of my poems and stories are littered with illiteracies and errors. I just need to re-read and re-work, a bit more.

Glad you enjoyed.

I'll make sure to post more asap.
Talk soon.

the broken down barman said...

liked the poem mcguire. dont know much bout poetry or writing as i have said before but think that mr murdoch there is being a little bit picky!!!! i feel his critique is a bit on the over blown side and could do with a slight reduction. his statement that kitchens are normally at the back of houses is fairly untrue, i write as i sit in my kitchen which happens to be at the front of my house. if someone was spilling juice on my carpet i would probebly shout " oi u ya b******. what the f*** do u think yer doin ya radge" which is longer that your sentence anyhoo. i also feel that in this day and age with open frontiers and mass migration the name olaf could well be at home in glasgow or any other british city.

keep up the tunes big man. yer gonna turn me into a poetry freak one of these days