Friday, April 9, 2010

Poem 9: Rotten Advice

"When I was a boy," my father said,
"they called girls like you sex apples...
                    I was 14...
...those girls with that kind of appeal."
                    and doing my homework.
"Watch out," he said.
                    I never really understood Algebra.
                    English was my best subject.
"You'll have to be careful."
                    Now I watch
                    and I'm careful,
                    but I still want
                    to understand the square root
                    of prepositions.

© 2010 by Kathryn Feigal. All rights reserved. 


  1. I hope this isn't autobiographical. I laughed and then felt morally reprehensible for laughing: 'sex apples'? Jeez!

  2. I like it but not the formatting. Could I suggest aligning it to the left and indenting the father's comments. Keep the italics as well though.

  3. Very good, Kass. Very realistic. You captured the layers of the girl trying to keep an even keel while the man (it doesn't have to be her father, necessarily) intrudes with frightening messages. You know why this made me cringe. But I think it is very good poetry.

    Wv - undes. I bet dad would have had some sage advice to offer about the appropriate undes a girl should wear, too.

  4. Umm... Well, Eryl took the words from my mouth...
    Except that things can be sadly funny, in which case, though easily misunderstood by a third party, the laughter is only natural, an expression of surprise and empathy...
    Maybe I'm just immoral.
    Now I'm trying to add/substract words... I'm not at the level of calculating square roots of prepostiions yet.

  5. ERYL - It is totally autobiographical, but I have few feelings of blame toward my father. It took me years to realize and process the message and the mess those words caused in my life.

    JIM - I'm so bad with formatting. I love your suggestion. Will 'compose' let me do that? Or will I have to use html? I'm going to try. It's a great suggestion.

    LESLIE - Thanks. I pondered whether or not to post this for a very long time. My dad was my hero in so many ways, but he slipped up a little here.

    ALESA - I think this has been my approach to a lot of hot issues in my life - HUMOR - Some people say it's an avoidance, but I find it quite healing. You're not immoral. You and Eryl had the reaction that I think I was aiming for.

  6. Perfect pairing ~~ photo and poem.

  7. Up all night,
    fuzzy headed, I didn't understand the square root of your proposition. took a while to see what was going on. I too like the dual conversational layers. Well played K.

  8. I think it's superb. Just because something is abhorrent and demoralizing and intrusive doesn't mean it's not also hilarious. It's honest, and not all on one side or the other. Awesome.. but I can't format either, so I have no advice about that.

  9. I love that line, "I'm still trying to understand the square root of prepositions." I'm sorry your first comment didn't go thru this morning. Blogger has its issues at times. In regard to formatting your poem I think that's possible ... just takes times to switch back and forth. There are times though when even the formatting messes up! Loving your poems!

  10. I love the tension between the received image and the aspiration. So well balanced between the outer and the inner voice. No problem with the formatting for me: the active voice of the father should take the margin and the internal voice of the daughter should be indented, I feel. And the whole contained within so concise an utterance. A keeper as it is, Kass!

  11. TAG - Sorry about the loss of sleep. If you root around long enough, you can square off with anything. Glad you saw the layers.

    JULIE - If anyone could see the humor and artistic approach to this situation, you could. I changed the formatting at Jim's suggestion. Originally, it was all center aligned. For some reason, I didn't realize you could indent.

    S. ETOLE - Yes, blogger has it's problems. Glad you got the square root thing. You must be SUPER intelligent if you think like I do. tee hee

    DICK - At Jim's suggestion, I took the poem out of center alignment, but I agree with you in the indentation department. Thanks, your opinion means a lot to me.

  12. Well...

    You're not a little girl anymore.

    But you certainly exude an appeal.

    I leave the formatting to others.

  13. JONAS - Exudation and seepage are my specialties.

  14. I'm more of a decrepit and confused sort...but, hey!

    That's just me.

  15. Dear Kass,
    Great job, I love your poetry month.
    This poem has brought so many memories from my childhood - it is amazingly sad how much harm parents can cause - even when they are not intending to do so.
    Keep up your inspiring and refreshing work.


  16. JONAS - Speaking of decrepit, how's your neck?

    GABI - I hate to think of the impact some of my behavior has had on my kids. The more I read about the brain, the more I believe in it's plasticity and ability to form new connections for joyful experiences.

  17. Sex apples!!! I laughed and then I thought - these 'talks' happen between fathers and daughters and what lasts is always the square root of something......

    Very nice, Kass!

  18. P. J. - Good point about getting to the root of something. I hadn't thought of it in that light. I was going more for the idea of how that interchange messed with my mind.

  19. Grimly accurate and breathlessly succinct.

    How little girls do suffer at daddy's words.

  20. PS Loving your poem a day! Still reading you even if I seem to have vanished.

  21. RACHEL - Thanks for letting me know you're still around. I liked the words you chose to describe the poem. Your opinion is valuable. I'm looking forward to what you write next.

  22. This poem is really powerful. It also brings up so many questions, both in the context of you and your father but also in the imagery. Such as, does "sex apple" have its origins in the "Eve as temptress" construct or fruit as "ripened ovary".
    It is a little creepy to recall such a conversation. Was this his "Birds and Bees" lecture? Do children really want to ever get sexual counseling from their parents?
    This is a great idea for a really funny but poignant book. Dean's description in his blog of Mike's B&B lecture is hilarious.

  23. Oooh, REC - I love that you brought up the ripened ovary. I hadn't thought of that one, but I had thought of the Eve allusion. My dad's explanation was that 'sex apple' was a play on the pronunciation of 'sex appeal.'

    This was the only "Birds and Bees" lecture I got from my dad.....

    Should we collaborate on the book? We could send out a call on Facebook and the blog world. I would love to read Dean's piece. Is his blog open to the public? Maybe I can link to it from Amy's blog.
    I'll get back to you via FB.


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