Image, Simile, Metaphor in Poetry–A Keel To Float Your Poem–(“Family Finishes”)


DVerse Poets Pub has a prompt today by Gay Reiser Cannnon asking for poems that trade in image, simile, metaphor, allegory, figure.  The poem below was based on an exercise that tended to force one into metaphor (though frankly almost any poem has some basis in these elements.)  The picture, done on my iPad 2, was “filtered” on the Photogene App above.  (Below is the unfiltered image.)

Family Finishes


The perfectionist sands her offspring to her image, or
an image, filing away the
unsightly, the angry, the unspeakable.
Drills a face fit for a pageant, as
smooth as balsam, as modeled as
a keel; then (the child carved
to measure), she steps

down into that keel, careful
of any unseamed tar.


A family levels itself to just folks with enough distance;
an occasional pageant – picnic or funeral – joins the blood,
a biennial application of glue,
occasions muddled with the stickiness of blood;
mother hammering the grandmother, son
nailing father, the family portrait gathering a rich patina.


Steeped in the traditions of the portrait hall,
the young mother thought

to measure out love in spoonfuls,
smoothing away excess, screwing it into a tied-up sock.
Blasphemy to mount to ecstasy over your child.  No.
 fit the furniture
like a bowl of tulips or tea set, shaped to
its interval.  But the small white fist that gripped her finger
leveled training,

proper restraint transmuting aged wine to deep wellspring,
casks burst to loose a flow of sparkling clarity. 


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8 Comments on “Image, Simile, Metaphor in Poetry–A Keel To Float Your Poem–(“Family Finishes”)”

  1. brian miller Says:

    love in spoonfuls makes me a bit sad actually….also the remaking of the offspring in their image…makes me wonder what they had kids for…

  2. zongrik Says:

    reminds me of how friends from “The South” describe their childhood and families.

  3. Oh the children of the 50s and 60s can relate. The superstitions of “old countries” and the penuriousness of the Depression ruled. Don’t brag on your kids, don’t love too much – the angels/devils will take them, beware the sin of pride, keep up with the Jones, be kinder to neighbors and strangers than to family because life is a pageant or a parade and we’re all taking our places, finding our marks, speaking our lines until what?…we find out nobody cares.
    This is sad, and the metaphors are stunning!

  4. David King Says:

    The first three lines of 1 are brilliant. The rest no less so. I have read this post through a couple of times. Will probably do so again. It is wonderfully dense and layered.

  5. claudia Says: should be never be measured in spoons but in tons if someone asks me… esp. liked
    Passion fit the furniture
    like a bowl of tulips or tea set, shaped to
    its interval..

  6. Mama Zen Says:

    This is incredibly well done!

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    Nothing does dysfunction like family–well, except for maybe politics. You draw a fine line here between what is and what should be, and end up on the winning side, I think.

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