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Passions in Poetry

My Autistic Son (a Petrarchan Sonnet*)

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jbouder
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since 09-18-99
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0 posted 12-22-1999 05:25 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to Submit your Poem to Passions  View IP for jbouder

Autistic shackles hold your little tongue
From telling me the punch line of the joke
That caused your fits of laughter to provoke
Excited happy tears.  You’ve never sung
Your fav'rite Barney song, and when you clung
To me that winter night when you awoke
To bitter fearful sobs, you never spoke
A word of what tormented one so young.
Although autistic shackles bind his speech,
His love is blazoned on his beaming smile.
Although I missed the punch line of that jest,
I laughed myself to happy tears.  And each
Dark night when he awakes and fears defile
His sleep, in Daddy’s arms he finds his rest.

---

*A Petrarchan Sonnet has a rhyme scheme of (usually) abbaabba cdecde.  The first eight lines present a problem or argument and the final six the resolution.



 Jim

"If I rest, I rust."  - Martin Luther





[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 01-07-2000).]
© Copyright 1999 Jim Bouder - All Rights Reserved
haze
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since 11-03-1999
Posts 540
Bethlehem, PA USA


1 posted 12-22-1999 05:39 PM       View Profile for haze   Email haze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit haze's Home Page   View IP for haze

Jim...far be it from me to critique form...I write without rules and break them all.

This is a very poignant poem. A portrait of pain...I can not imagine the sorrow of such separation from my son...yet you bring the hope and love to the forefront...EXCELLENT WORK POET...Strong Kudos!
Songbird
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since 12-15-1999
Posts 2211
California


2 posted 12-22-1999 05:46 PM       View Profile for Songbird   Email Songbird   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Songbird's Home Page   View IP for Songbird

Beautiful, I fully enjoyed it, and know and understand the deep feelings the parent has for this child.  What a lucky boy he is to have such a caring father.  I have a autistic child and the message hear rings love.
warmhrt
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since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


3 posted 12-22-1999 11:44 PM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

Jim,
This brought tears to my eyes. Not only are you a good poet, but you seem to be a wonderful, caring parent.
I have worked with autistic children, and with the right therapies, and as he grows,
you may see positive changes. I'll keep both of you in my prayers.

warmhrt
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


4 posted 12-23-1999 02:52 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I think you're last two line are very powerful and I enjoyed reading this a lot.  Okay, Jim? I liked this one.  

Nevertheless, whereas most of the time I think people will give the reader too little, here I think you've given the reader too much.  I would change the title perhaps, create a little mystery as you go along, maybe avoid using the word 'autistic' until the last line so that the power is magnified that much more.  On the other hand, I did like it as the first word because (even thought I knew it was coming) read it the first time as 'artistic' so what am I talking about?  

Also, it seems to me that you've said the same thing twice in the first line and 'although autistic schackles bind his speech' -- I wonder if you might want to expand on that a little bit -- give us a strong image to work with.

Keep them coming,
Brad
jbouder
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5 posted 12-23-1999 08:31 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Haze:

You actually hit the nail on the head with "I can not imagine the sorrow of such separation from my son...yet you bring the hope and love to the forefront."

Interestingly enough, I don't think about the "sorrow of separation".  The hope and love really are in the forefront and, therefore, the challenges that accompany raising a child with autism end up being secondary concerns.  Does that make sense?

Septsong:

Thanks for the kind words.  We both know the challenge but, I suspect, we both know the rewards far outweigh the challenges, don't we?  

WH:

Thanks for the encouraging words and for the prayers.  They are both much appreciated.

Brad:

"December 23, 1999, 2:52 A.M. ... Jim writes a poem Brad likes."  

Seriously, thanks for the compliment and, as always and especially, thanks for the constructive criticism.  

I've thought about your idea on changing the title and agree with you.  But I am going to have to give it some thought (a little burned out by writing a sestina AND a Petrarchan sonnet in one week ... whew ... does that qualify me for the twelve step program?).    

I've thought about your comment on giving the reader too much too early by opening the sonnet with "Autistic".  A couple of points on this: first, "autism" is such a broad label that, even by using the word "autistic" as my opener, I'm really not giving the reader all that much and, second, if autism was the focus of the sonnet I may have tried to clothe the term in "mystery" but, as Haze correctly pointed out, the focus of the sonnet is on overcoming the barriers of autism.  I think the contrast I utilized in the sestet was, in large part, the reason the final lines came across as powerfully as they did.  Any thoughts?

I am thinking seriously about your comments on the second "although autistic shackles ..." line.  Thanks for pointing it out.

 Jim

"If I rest, I rust." - Martin Luther

Brad
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Jejudo, South Korea


6 posted 12-23-1999 12:02 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I agree with you thoughts so far. Continue if possible
jbouder
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7 posted 12-23-1999 12:18 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Not sure what you mean by "Continue if possible", good professor, but I suspect you are pulling one of those "let me see you develop these thoughts a little more" stunts that drove me nuts in college.    

I'm having no small difficulty reworking that one line.  I'm thinking along the lines of "Although an unseen jailor [warden?] binds [guards?] his speech ..."  Doesn't quite seem to be a kicker though, if you know what I mean.  I'll keep trying.



 Jim

"If I rest, I rust."  - Martin Luther





[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 12-23-1999).]
Littlewings
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since 09-19-99
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8 posted 12-23-1999 07:22 PM       View Profile for Littlewings   Email Littlewings   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Littlewings

i have to tell you what this means to me.It made my cry and think.This poem is filled to its beautiful brims with true love and i havent read anything as inspiring , thought provoking or this unbelievable in a long long time.Thank You Very ,Very much. -erin
jbouder
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Posts 2641
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9 posted 12-27-1999 07:25 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Erin (LW):

Your reply leaves me virtually speechless.  Yours were high complements and I thank you very much for them.


 Jim

"If I rest, I rust." - Martin Luther

Not A Poet
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since 11-03-1999
Posts 4427
Oklahoma, USA


10 posted 12-27-1999 10:15 AM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

Jim,

I just now saw this one. At first, I was impressed that you also write Petrarchan sonnets as well as Spenserian. Then I read it. What a beautiful poem. I don't see how it could be improved. It brought a real tear to my eye and I'm usually pretty hard.

I know Brad knows a lot about this technical stuff and if anyone can improve it, you are the one. But to me, this is certainly one of the most moving pieces I have seen in a long time. Thanks so much for writing it.  

P.S. I just posted another sonnet a few minutes ago. But now I think it probably should be removed as completely unworthy.  



 Pete

[This message has been edited by Not A Poet (edited 12-27-1999).]
Iloveit
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since 09-02-99
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NM


11 posted 12-27-1999 02:49 PM       View Profile for Iloveit   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Iloveit

well yes, I can see what brad means by the repetition, but will agree with haze, as a parent, what comes out of this read is the love.....and that is beautiful
jamaicabradley
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since 11-04-1999
Posts 39


12 posted 12-27-1999 04:25 PM       View Profile for jamaicabradley   Email jamaicabradley   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jamaicabradley

I can say nothing more than "I love it!" I really do, it srikes a chord in me, clearly a maternal one but also that as a father one can be so strong in his feelings. This gives me hope this does. Thank you.
Jamaica
Georgia
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since 12-22-1999
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13 posted 12-28-1999 09:44 AM       View Profile for Georgia   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Georgia

jbouder, this is wonderful...you have truly gotten your point across and touched my heart..others with autistic children will find comfort in this i think...well, done
Poertree
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since 11-05-1999
Posts 1413
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14 posted 12-28-1999 05:39 PM       View Profile for Poertree   Email Poertree   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poertree

Jim

Got to it at last - the last week or so has been difficult.  

Quite often I think it is some kind of strong emotion in a person's life that drives them to start writing poetry in the first place.  Perhaps because the medium is so apt for such expression there seem to be many poems in the world which deal with very personal tragedy, joy, love etc etc .. I find that I reach a kind of threshold where, if the piece is quite obviously "part of" an individual or family, I find it almost an impertinence to "intrude" into that special place with anything as apparently crude as an objective comment.

I guess I haven't expressed all that so well .. so to summarize ..... I find it very difficult to critique poems which touch me as this did.  It is at the same time both very wonderful and very sad.

                    ~

Still you posted it in Critical and you e-mailed threatening retribution if I didn't  cooperate so here we go .. lol

Firstly I thought the "turn" was well handled.  The first 8 lines dealing with the difficulties of the situation and then the final 6 looking at the great joy that you both nevertheless experience.  Also I thought that the change from talking to him - "you", to talking about him - "his", emphasised the change well.

The punctuation in:

.  You’ve never sung
Your fav'rite Barney song and, when you clung
To me that winter night when you awoke
To bitter, fearful sobs, you never spoke
A word of what tormented one so young.

might need some looking at, I thought:

.  You’ve never sung
Your fav'rite Barney song, and when you clung
To me that winter night, when you awoke
To bitter fearful sobs, you never spoke
A word of what tormented one so young.

read more naturally.

The echo of his tears and then your tears was fine .. a nice touch.

Unlike Brad, I wasn't too sure about the last two lines.  Although I liked the sound and feel of them, prissy old pedantic me (Hey what else have I been called in this forum !!!!!!) felt that maybe "defile" spoilt the "feel" a little.  Defile has pretty horrid connotations and moreover my dictionary puts the emphasis on  "make dirty, corrupt, profane, befoul" which doesn't sit very well.  Furthermore I kept reading "fears" as a verb which, if you read it that way, makes the meaning very distateful and quite spoiled the ending for me .. till I worked it out.

I wondered whether a possibility might be to change "smile" three lines up to "face" and then use the word "erase" (pronounced er - RACE) instead of defile.  You will also of course have to change "fears", but I haven't worked that out yet  .

Altogether, though, a brilliant effort.

Thanks

Philip


jbouder
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15 posted 12-28-1999 06:11 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Philip:

Thanks for your compliments, honesty and critique.  I am actually quite interested in knowing what others thought of the word "defile".  I chose the word because of its strength and thought it to be appropriate.  Again, I am interested in knowing what others think about this.

The punctuation question I will have to research.  I was taught that when commas are used to bracket a dependent clause then, as a general rule, you should be able to remove the dependent clause and the remaining sentence would still read smoothly.  Going from memory here but I will research it all the same.

Again, I thank you for your sensativity (I won't tell anyone, I promise)   .  But I assure you (and everyone else, for that matter) that I want negative, constructive critiques whenever possible and necessary.  I am willing to set aside feelings any day if it means I will be able to better express myself, thoughts and feelings, next time.  That, I believe, is the best way for anyone to improve their poetry.

Pete:

I was honestly very surprised at the reception of this poem.  I never anticipated the impact it would have.  I suppose that is how it works sometimes, huh?  

By the way ... never minimize your own work or consider it unworthy.  It is not constructive (there has been quite a bit of talk in here lately over what is "constructive", in case you haven't noticed).  I do thank you for your kind comments, however.  They were much appreciated.  

Iloveit, Jamaica & Georgia:  Thanks for your kind words.  

Everyone:  

Thanks again for your comments.  My oldest son is 4-1/2 years old and is autistic.  He rarely uses language practically and has never spoken in a complete sentence, sung his favorite song, or told me what was going on in his own little world.  We actually compliment each other quite well, considering I don't know when to shut up.     But dispite all of this, we still have a wonderful connection (I assume this was communicated well enough in the sonnet). I am convinced that any parent would feel the same way and do the same things under similar circumstances if they let themselves love their child(ren).  

Thanks again for your comments.

 Jim

"If I rest, I rust."  - Martin Luther



[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 12-28-1999).]
Not A Poet
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16 posted 12-29-1999 10:22 AM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

Jim, thanks for your encouragement. And I didn't mean to minimize my work. It's just, as I tried to say, this has to be one of the most moving pieces I have ever read. It really touched me deeply, making my "Piano Player" seem not too important.   BTW, my tired memory seems to suggest to me that what you have set off by commas there in the second quatrain  is really a parenthetical element rather than a dependent clause. I can't remember for sure which way is right but the punctuation Philip suggested seems more natural to me. The king's English, however, is a most curious creature. But I loved it either way.



 Pete
Trevor
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17 posted 12-29-1999 10:32 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hey Jim,
Hope your holidays were merry eh (it's not "aye" you damn Yank That's a pirate expression... Plus we usually reserve such novel expressions for the tourist season   ). Now onto the poem.

I liked the poem a lot and agree with Brad a-bowt waiting till mid poem to reveal the fact that your son is autistic and perhaps changing the title. But I did like the "autistic shackles" line. I thought the mid section of the poem was the meat and potatoes of it, marvelous set of lines:
"To me that winter night when you awoke
To bitter, fearful sobs, you never spoke
A word of what tormented one so young.
Although autistic shackles bind his speech,
His love is blazoned on his beaming smile."

Anyways Jim, a very lovely and moving poem, thanks for sharing it, take care,
Trevor
Munda
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18 posted 12-31-1999 03:59 PM       View Profile for Munda   Email Munda   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Munda's Home Page   View IP for Munda

Jim,

A wonderful poet you are ! This sonnet brought a tear to my eyes and touched the very inside of me. Technical (if I remember Nan's wise lessons well) it seems ok, but isn't it what you're trying to express that counts most ? Please don't change too much in this sonnet, it's wonderful as it is and says exactly what you want it to. Love it ! : )
And now I better start writing something, hopefully a sestina.....
Happy New Year to you and your family. : )

Munda : )
jbouder
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Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


19 posted 01-05-2000 05:58 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Sorry about dragging this thing back to the top.  But after a short chat with Brad I thought that others might enjoy this.  And I didn't get to thank Munda and Trevor for their comments (may as well do that now, huh?)  Thanks guys.

 Jim

"If I rest, I rust."  - Martin Luther



[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 01-05-2000).]
Kenneth Ray Taylor
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since 11-11-1999
Posts 142
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20 posted 01-06-2000 07:02 AM       View Profile for Kenneth Ray Taylor   Email Kenneth Ray Taylor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kenneth Ray Taylor

I'm always a little afraid to read your poems.  Your ability makes me jealous.  Sonnets are hard to write; effective ones, nearly impossible.  But you're a miracle worker, and yours is one of the best I've read. I'm only about half done with my Sestina.  It may never be finished.
simplyYRREHS
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21 posted 01-06-2000 09:28 AM       View Profile for simplyYRREHS   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for simplyYRREHS

Jim~

Wow!  What a magnificent piece.  I can see your writings are a challenge for you, and you seem to meet them all head on and with complete enjoyment and astuteness. I personally liked this one, as emotions seemed naked and I could feel the sense of pain (although not overbearing) and the sense of wonderment~ that which only a parent could express so beautifully.  No appologies for bringing this one to the foreground, as it certainly deserves the attention.  Thanks!

sherry
Ted Reynolds
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22 posted 01-06-2000 03:46 PM       View Profile for Ted Reynolds   Email Ted Reynolds   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ted Reynolds

Jim,

Yours was the first poem I read today, and the result is that I'm not going to read any more poetry today, nor am I going to post the poem of my own that I had planned.  Do I make my point?  As far as I'm concerned, today *you* are the poet.

Thank you.  (Sniffle.)
Hawk183
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since 12-24-1999
Posts 132


23 posted 01-06-2000 06:22 PM       View Profile for Hawk183   Email Hawk183   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Hawk183

Publish Jim.Publish as fast as you can.

Hawk
jenni
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since 09-11-99
Posts 511
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24 posted 01-06-2000 07:56 PM       View Profile for jenni   Email jenni   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jenni

jim--

simply beautiful, and very moving... well done, my friend.  

can i make a few very, very minor comments? (wincing as i say this, please don't hate me for criticizing such a beautiful poem?)  as philip said, this IS C/A...

the meter seems a bit off in two lines.  the first place it happens (in my opinion) is the line "his love is blazoned on his beaming smile."  no doubt you intend it to be read as:

his LOVE is BLAZoned ON his BEAMing SMILE

i think this puts a little unnatural emphasis on "on".  its easy to go into that line with the iambs pumping and say it your way, but i think the more natural stress here is as follows:

his LOVE is BLAZoned on his BEAMing SMILE

i have a similar "problem" with line 13 (if, indeed, i can say i have a "problem" with a poem i love, lol).  as i read it, i can't help but think that "dark night" is an example of a (relatively rare) double-stressed foot (i know you know the term for it, i can't think of it just now).  (actually there's three stesses in a row there, with the word "each" from the previous line.)  no matter how many times i read the poem, i can't see how it can be read naturally without stressing both "dark" and "night".  i also think the stress on the word "he" later in that same line is a trifle forced.

your line:

(and EACH)
dark NIGHT when HE aWAKES and FEARS deFILE
(his SLEEP)

i think more naturally reads:

(and EACH)
DARK NIGHT[,] when he aWAKES and FEARS deFILE
(his SLEEP,)....

you may be able to get away with line 9 (there may be ever so slight a natural emphasis on "on", in the middle of three otherwise unstressed syllables); and line 13 may work (although this is far less certain, in my opinion) -- but the two lines together put the poem's meter the merest, slightest, most miniscule tad -- the tadliest tad -- on the awkward side of the scale, in my opinion.

but so what?  none of this is this is any important, really, with a poem as powerful and moving as this one, and i kind of like the triple emphasis of "each dark night".  i have no blessed idea how to fix any of my perceived problems anyway; as it'd probably cause more harm than good, you're better off following munda's advice and leaving it alone.  and as no-one else has said anything about the meter, it's all probably another example of "Never Mind Jenni" (a fun game for folks of all ages, lol).  

one more thing?  i agree with philip's suggested punctuation changes entirely (although it think they might exacerbate the "problems" i see with the meter.)

please don't get me wrong, jim...i absolutely adore this piece.  in that regard, all i can do is reiterate what so many have said before.  

thanks for sharing it with us; i'll shut up now, lol.  

jenni



[This message has been edited by jenni (edited 01-06-2000).]
 
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