38 thoughts on “Quadrille – A Classic

  1. That second stanza in particular ROCKS.
    This:
    “Small for a boxer
    But not for a poet”

    And that rapid-fire:
    crunch and clench
    …bone, time, wives, milk, eggs –
    tattoos and fists

    is like being pummeled by words. PERFECTION.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was born in 1969, and didn’t necessarily read that line literally, but liked it, either way. I also once (briefly, thankfully) had a first husband who could throw things through the wall quite easily, with no help from a chute of any kind.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks. I was willing to hang out right about where you read it, but I could change from “wall” to “milk chute” and drop a word somewhere else. Thoughts? Or leave it alone?

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  2. Okay, I’m getting into this kind of late for the conversation. Here’s my take: it doesn’t matter whether I know what that means or not. Fact is, I didn’t… until I thought it through. But that’s the point of good poetry (you know, like The Waste Land 🙂 ), that you have to spend time… spar with it… bare knuckle it. The reason I wouldn’t have known it at first glance is because 1.) we never used a milkman, 2.) we didn’t have milk chutes or doors (that I ever saw), and 3.) most delivered milk was left in a box on the back stoop (probably to freeze or curdle, depending on the season).

    Your poem is awesome. Leave it be and stop sweating!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your writing.
    I really do.
    I just wish I was given just a little more help.
    I even boxed my first year at Cornell where I was middle weight. I had to look up Bantamweight <118 lbs — and I must say, I've never seen a chicken anywhere near that weight. 😉

    So I looked all over for boxer called "The Milkman"
    and found a movie called the Calcium kid.

    Then found Harry Forbes in Troy NY but way before 1962.

    I found lots of more stuff, but gave up.

    So, did you just make this up or based on something?

    Comments:
    1) I don't get the title
    2) loved the first stanza
    3) Don't get the poet line in the second. The rest was great, but

    as I said, it leaves me wondering if I am suppose to know this guy. Maybe the title could have been a better valet.

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    1. Backing up, I read the later posts before, just seeing this now…

      We had a milk chute when I was a kid, and Virgil, the milkman would deliver milk through it in a cloud of cigarette smoke. But you’ve figured that out by now. We kids would chat him up and he would tell us tales of his exploits as a boxer growing up in upstate NY. So the first lines are literal. I can see how it set you up though to wonder if it was some kind of famed fighter down on his luck or such, esp. with “The Classic” as a title.

      I took a calculated risk with “throwing through the wall”, as you’ve read in the comments. I knew it wasn’t going to be common knowledge, so wrestled (boxed) with how to go about that line. I went with the “punching through the wall” as it was stronger, and if anyone picked up about the milk chutes, that was great, but not expected or required. Even if I’d been literal, that wouldn’t have worked either, as clearly the whole milk-chute thing wasn’t that common. Punching through the wall seemed like something most people could visualize and react to.

      So — “Classic”, “Virgil”, “Troy”, “Rome”. I don’t expect most readers to jump up and yell, “Hey, the Aeneid!” I did assume that somewhere most people might associate the name “Virgil”, “Troy” and “Rome” with “Sort of that classic stuff, you know, Greeks ‘n stuff”. No more than that. Then back to the title, “oh yeah, A Classic! I get it! ho ho ho, the guy was a character (a classic) and his name has something to do with Greek stuff! (Latin, actually, but I’m trying to paraphrase the mind of most readers).

      Is that necessary to understanding the poem? I don’t think so, or at least I hope not. I was aiming for something more visceral, punching through the wall, wives, bones, boxers, clenches — and maybe some poetry for him, for them, for us in that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @ qBit

        (1) Cool story, but I didn’t get any of that out of the poem. Now knowing that you milkman was also a former boxer changes everything. But it would have been nice to have been given that. I wager precious few of people complimenting your poem get it.
        It is a cool story indeed.

        (2) You said: So — “Classic”, “Virgil”, “Troy”, “Rome”. I don’t expect most readers to jump up and yell, “Hey, the Aeneid!” I did assume that somewhere most people might associate the name “Virgil”, “Troy” and “Rome” with “Sort of that classic stuff, you know, Greeks ‘n stuff”.

        Yep, that is private, elite language. It is what makes the average person dislike poetry, I think. It is the author trying to be interesting for themselves, not for the reader. Or maybe just the precious few. That is my humble opinion.

        (3) You said: Is that necessary to understanding the poem? I don’t think so, or at least I hope not. I was aiming for something more visceral, punching through the wall, wives, bones, boxers, clenches — and maybe some poetry for him, for them, for us in that.

        Right, the type of poetry you and I like is different — or your interests are perhaps broader than mine. But I think many of the poets I enjoy would also be critical of your point here. Yet many poets you like would agree with you. Seems a post-modernistic divide of sorts.

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    2. FYI, if you Google “Virgil” “Troy” “Rome”, the first thing that pops up is the Wikipedia article for The Aeneid: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeneid. I think reasonable to apply the same standard you used for looking up Baryon and muon! Most Liberal Arts majors would get this pretty easily, and many without Google. That said, my milk chute — *that* was obscure.

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  4. Oh, so I read the comments (your notes) and this is really about a milkman. And no, I didn’t know about Milk chutes either, and I am not too young!

    But now the second stanza is a puzzle.

    Can’t win here.

    I don’t get it.

    You see, Charlie above is OK with not understanding. He wouldn’t have if he hadn’t read comments — reading it several times wouldn’t even have helped him.

    BTW, I have put my hand threw walls in my past too, but not like the milkman, in an easy chute, but like a boxer with anger. Why? Because my father raised me right.

    —-


    wait for it.
    —-

    He taught me never to hit women, so I hit walls.
    (that was in my 20’s and 30’s though, now I am a sweet guy)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So much interesting here. Thank you for taking all this time and giving it thought. I was going to post this over in Billy, with a long note explaining how for me, this was *more* of a Billy poem than my prior ventur. Because it is about a real-world observation of *mine* (when I was a kid) and not the 3rd party observation in my mouse poem. But in my voice, not attempting to use any of Billy’s devices. I thought it would be an interesting and useful contrast (still do), so would love to pick this all up further!

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      1. Well, Billy doesn’t leave us hanging nearly as much as this.
        Your second verse, if about your youth memories of your milk man is then very confusing to me.

        Small for a boxer (he wasn’t small for a bantamweight — so why small?)
        But not for a poet – (why would the milkman be a poet? This really threw me)
        His crunch and clench (they made you use “crunch” for this, would you have?)
        Of bone, time, wives, milk, eggs – (did he hit wives? bones?)
        tattoos and fists (did the milkman have tattoos on his fist?)
        Swinging fame
        From Troy, NY
        To Rome. (and Troy and Rome NY are 2 hours apart by modern roads, but in 1962, did your milkman cover that range?)

        Or is the second stanza about a fictional poet now?
        I’m confused.
        That is what I would have reported on Feedback Poetry.
        If this was a billy-esque poem, how would you change the title to valet me in a bit?

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        1. I will come back on that, getting late! Agreed, it isn’t Billy-esq at all the way I rendered it. Just closer to Billy *for me* in the way I used an observation of the world. That has been valuable to me, and what I want to keep.

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  5. I like Virgil the milkman. I like that he isn’t too light to be apoet either. We didn’t have a milk chute (being afraid the glass bottles would break) but we had a cool metal box on the kitchen porch for milk to be left in. Cream, butter, eggs – all of it. I liked this poem a lot. don’t know what Sabio is blathering about but it sounds like typical Sabio – “I don’t understand”. I understood it all and loved it.

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