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My Father's Eyes Were Blue
Caducus

My Father's eyes were blue
 1
lighthouse-bright,
 2
and he’d sit by my bed
 3
stroking my hair
 4
coaling my forehead.
 5
I knew he kissed me every night,
 6
for I awoke in tattoos
 7
from where he held me.
 8
 
 
My Father's eyes were blue.
 9
His face was always black,
 10
he lit rooms with his smile
 11
but blood followed laughter
 12
and I hugged his leg,
 13
not letting go till his wheezing stopped.
 14
 
 
My Father's eyes turned pale,
 15
albino white.
 16
I had just become a man,
 17
and I sat by his bed
 18
stroking his hair
 19
coaling his forehead
 20
kissed his eyes closed,
 21
and laid on his chest
 22
a book he always read me
 23
when he thought I was sleeping.
 24

24 Jun 05

Rated 8.8 (7.8) by 30 users.
Active (30): 2, 2, 6, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
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Comments:

What does coaling his forehead mean?  I do get that this might be coal miner but I've never heard the term coaling a forehead.

This is sad and eleganty told.
 — Isabelle5

You're right its a rarely used word and but it fit right without actually blatantly saying 'coal miner', just gently suggestive.
 — unknown

Simply amazing. L6-9 are positively the best. 10 and going in my favorites.
 — Leigh

Who wrote this?  I'd like to know.  It's lovely.
 — Isabelle5

Didn't get the coaling part until I read the comments. Now I do! Well done and beautiful. I love it. A fitting tribute if that's really about your Dad and right on good work even if it's not. Simple and sweet. Going in my favorites. If you've got a minute, check out the poem I wrote, sleep well Dad. I think there's some similarity.
 — wamblicante

wOw
 — unknown

isabelle :-)
 — Caducus

good god this is absolutely exquisitely written. i am floored. bravo/a.
 — noodleman

i think you could lose 24. and it would be exquisiter.
 — noodleman

What a beautiful piece of writing - the extended metaphor of the eyes works so well,
 — opal

beautiful poem, i loved it. the feelings are genuine and heart flet.
 — crabbyoldbag

this hurts :(
 — unknown

done mr noodle
 — Caducus

Fabulous poem! I simply adore 6-8! Although, in 7 I'd use "with" instead of "in".

By the by, it should be "Father's"... "Fathers" is plural while "Father's" is possessive - I do that all the time too.

If I were you I also might consider making the following changes:

stroking his hair and  19
coaling his forehead  20
before I kissed his eyes closed,  21
and laid on his chest  22

I think reads easier this way...

Anywho, just a few ideas. Whatever you do, it rocks!

-Ashley
 — sit_and_wait

|17 -- i had just become a man?

This is wonderful.
 — OKcomputer

caducus. wow.

noodle.
 — unknown

i'm so sorry for your loss. :(
 — midare

I love how it changed from him being the care-taker, to you becoming the care-taker.  It's so very true.
 — beautynbeast

yeah, what beautynbeast said^.  that is so true.  it's funny how when we grow old it's like we sort of turn into babies again.  sometimes we get so we can't eat on our own, can’t talk well, can't do things for our self, etc.....it's a strange cycle...

this is beautifully written...so sad.  i'm sorry about your loss.  this is one fabulous poem, though.
 — woman_power

Good - just a couple of things: l17 either 'I just became a man' or 'I had just become a man'. I would add 'my head' in l22...I teetered on that one.
 — sam

eh cad - ignore me re l22 - going to bed now - 'night sir.
 — sam

sweet dreams sam
 — Caducus

this is so....desperately beautiful.
 — Charlie

My comment disappeared so I'll repeat.

I'm not a fan of keeping tenses the same throughout.  If it can be done, change them.  Maybe the last stanza could be written in the present tense to develop a strong distinction between what was your father/is your father; what you were/are.

The last stanza is very powerful.  So is line 12 /but blood followed laughter/
Perhaps this line can be further explored in another poem about your family ties.

Excellent.
 — cynthmala

I think that the poem is saved by the sincerity with which was written and that it makes it worthwhile
 — lodza

bravo...very sad. sorry about your dad.
 — TPTNW

A fine poem with an almost ethereal feel
 — larrylark

I think there needs to be another stanza added in here somewhere... But what you've got is excellent
 — iamswanson

Beautiful, very comforting.
 — lauran

I'm not sure about line 12 - starting with 'but' blood. Maybe it could be rephrased to be stronger.

I  love this poem from a child's persepctive of his coal miner father
tragic and touching

Lines 7 and 8 are beautiful - significant imagery there
 — kellybelle

I simply love all of your poetry. You're a wonderful writer. Lovely piece.
 — Gabriella

unbelievable.  I love line 24, should NOT be taken out.
 — elliott3

yes please do not alter this in any way. please.
 — noodleman

Good God, this is amazing.  Wonderfully done.  If only I could write such a thing.
 — acoustic9

Apostrophe the "Fathers". Twelve downwards were so, so sad. I would say good work, but that cheapens the sentiment. So I'll just say that this affected me in ways that not many poems tend to make me feel these days, anymore.
-wendz
 — unknown

Interesting.
 — ramher

coaling - cool expo
 — unknown

an amzing work of art i well love crack baby as i have said and umm.. you amae me with all of your writng
 — speech_less

:-(
 — unknown

I cannot say the choice of words impress me in this poem.

The significance of lighthouse escapes me and sounds terrible when read aloud and totally out of context with the rest of the poem.
There are numerous terms that would have been a better fit.

Did you consider Davy lamp bright? There are many items relating to the mining environment, carbine bright is one of several

Coaling is a term usually used by charcoal burner’s referring to the wood to charcoal conversion, though it can apply to loading hoppers or colliers hence the term coaling station.

Coaly is normally the term referring to items grimed by coal.
The correct term in respect of besmearing with coal dust as in your case should have been colly not coaling.

As in the term, her coat begrimed with colly black. (collied)
Line 12 is a bad description, sputum blood stained or other wise would have been more in keeping with the hacking spew of chronically ill coal miners
Line 16 is a terrible cliqued line, bloodless blue or any of the bloodless terms would have been much  better

I quite liked the emotive theme through out and it finished well, but unfortunately the poem was spoilt for me by the extremely poor word choice and descriptive terms.

Colliers are a breed apart, this did not for me at least, convey the sense of a real coal miner, though the emergence of a minor was well presented.

Arminius Prodicus
 — unknown

Arminius Prodicus

Thanks for your critique which i think you wrote the way i critique should be written full of why's and suggestions to give the criticism equilibrium.

Okay then let me explain some things. I considered using 'davy lamp bright' or words to that effect but decided to use light house for a number of reasons and it wasnt just thrown in there for the sake of it.

Lighthouses like miners become a beacon when operated, they shine in darkness and the main point i used it was to underline how his eyes became a beacon to his son amongst all the grime covering his face when he returned home. Also his son was a lost vessel who was guided through life by his father- his hero. In addition lighthouses are often located in very remote places (like miners) and lighthouses need a keeper as this miner needed his family. He was like a mobile lighthouse.

About the illness hinted at in line 12 i wanted to suggest it and walk away from it leaving the reader to conjure up their own images.

'Albino white' was used as its the most antonymous in colour to black or coal.

The coaling part was a risk i took without being too technical i dont regret it as if i would have said the correct term 'coaly his forehead' it would have sounded ridiculous.

I would like to find a way in changing it though as the poems important to me and i am so pleased you took so much time in your comment and feel priveleged you would do that and I thank you dearly for it.

Caducus
 — unknown

Hi Caducus,
It is heart warming to get a reasoned reply occasionally on PC.

Having lived on a farm in Northumberland that was itself surrounded by pits and their villages, I had a close affinity to miners and their way of live.

In fact many of the pit workings went far out under the adjacent sea, so may be the lighthouse analogy is not such a bad one on reflection.

Reconsidering the light in his eyes, modern miners use Oldham battery type mining lights for safety reasons.
Some of those early ones had carbon arc lighting more modern ones had tungsten filaments with parabolic reflectors.

I still remember miners walking home from back shift
illuminated only by the tiny light of their carbine Davy lamps flickering like so many fireflies on a dark night.

Possibly, amongst that lot is the illumination you require.

Pneumoconiosis. The collied lung of the coal miner is a heart-rending disease to watch a suffer go through, choking to death seems an apt description....

I do love to see a poem develop through its various stages
I have never finished a poem in my life, that why I have no
more than a nodding acquaintance to the term poet.

In the UK and in the north of England and Scotland collied is a popular term as is colly, In Scotland you could possibly hear the words
“You Colly Bastard You” it often being a considered term of endearment.

Regarding the eye again being a farmers son walleye was a familiar term maybe not wholly appropriate, but maybe a fresh look at the problem, and cataracts also give a white clouded appearance.

I would be interested to see how this poem develops.

Arminius Prodicus
 — unknown

Arminius

thanks for your reply again. I am a little poem lagged at the moment lol but would appreciate your help in phrasing these incomplete passages in my poem by way of actually using your experience and marry the ideas into the poem. Please help out here to avoid me getting it slightly wrong.

I am not afraid to admit when i need help - especially when perfection is what i strive for and with your background it would give some much needed nostalgia and authenticity.

thanks dearly

cad
 — unknown

it is good... but i have heard the story before; your life seems to be on a map and so does the poem.  I can see the begining and the end but i just don't feel any middle, maybe because i never felt the way you feel in this but i don't know it is alright...
 — onestepshort

Dude- do you want a hug?

The writing is fanastic, the poetry is awesome- but the stuff behind and beneath it, that's what grabbed me, having something going on with my father, emotional or otherwise.

Great job, man- keep writing!

10
 — sacred573

spectacular! *speechless*
 — Kauf

oops, i meant to rate 10 but it came out 1, is there any way to adjust this.  genuine mistake! very sorry.
 — Kauf

I do apologise, I did mean to come back to this poem, just see how it was getting on.

I do not know if my terminology would suit your geographical example, for example prior to the Davy lamp, its predecessor invented by Stevenson was known in the northern coalfields as the Geordie, due to it, first being used in the coal mines of Northumberland.

I would love to see this poem in some form of rhyming format

Just as an example

My father’s eyes were argent blue,
they shone as lighthouse bright,
he’d sit there by my timbered bed
to stroke, slumbers hair, at night.

Coaling he upon my cool forehead,
truly kissed in sheer delight
what blacken lips did soul impart
and morn’s tattooed marks, affright.

Just a thought.

Arminius Prodicus
 — unknown

Wow.  This one made me cry.
Great job conveying your feelings.  I really liked it!
 — aforbing

This is a good poem, with a good idea. I would change stroking to stoking, however, since you use the word coaling. Good poem, though. Loose form, which isn’t a bad thing.
 — Opinion

Arminius

Love the interpretation of this poem you did its brilliant.
 — Caducus

is this the same "father" in "entering puberty" i  think it is o golly gee
 — unknown

Well "spoken."
 — In_Relief

This is a poignant and bittersweet poem that stirs deeply.  You have painted two vivid pictures that produce emotion.  I did not understand the 'coaling' until I read the comments.  The world turns and our roles with it.  You must have loved him dearly.
 — Literatti

i love this. i read it all the time.
 — noodleman

oh cheers noodleman
 — unknown

bgbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb bfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff
 — unknown

my father's eyes are green.
 — unknown

The voice is perfectly sorrowful for this. Good work.
 — Hear

Yeah, I hate that this gives me that feeling in the pits of my stomach.
 — Hear

poignant and thoughtful...I gather he was a coal-miner...and died of black lung disease?
I like the subtle hints (face was always black, blood followed laughter, wheezing and coaling his forhead) used to convey that sad and all to common condition.
nice work here
 — Susan

In my favorites, now. I read this a long time ago, and yet, it's still in my mind. Good work.
 — Hear

wow.....

-angel
 — unknown

There is a gentle humbleness in this piece and I applaud you!  Thank you for sharing.  Excellent.

A fellow poet.
 — unknown

UP SHE GOES
 — unknown

Line 24 is such a sweet touch on top of a wonderful piece. A tender tribute .
 — oblivious

This is so lovely.  I could only dream of being able to write like this.  I wish I knew who wrote this so I could read the rest of your work.  This poem gave me chills and goosebumps.  It's better than a lot of poetry that's published in books.  I really love it.
 — Emilily

:-(
 — Sionna

this is so beautiful and sad, it brought tears to my eyes.
 — sparrow

this is really beautiful! no criticisms, I love it just the way it is.
 — OwlGirl

Glad to see this back up here. Actually it's the poem that convinced me to try PC.

-B
 — unknown

I love this poem.  I don't know if I've commented before, but I had given it a ten.  And now I see that it was for good reason.  A great reason.  Beautiful.
 — fallinforyou

perfect
 — BrokenWords

Awesome Poem.
-Drew
 — Him

Stunning.  "10."
 — starr

I often read this poem. I must like it because I just keep coming back to it. It has been said, but I like to join the crowd…
 — unknown

A few polishing comments, and some matters of style:
L1,9,15 and the title: "Father's" not "fathers" (also, it shouldn't be capitalized on the first, ninth, or fifteenth line unless you want a very victorian sensibility in your poem, which I don't think it needs)
L2: Lighthouse-bright (add the hyphen) unless you want it to be more than an adjective.
Coaling is an excellent word, however uncommon.
L7: I'd remove "for" from the beginning of the line...
L14: Perhaps replace "not letting go" with "holding on" because it's more compact...but both are cliche, not necessarily to this poem's detriment, however.
L16: albino-white: can't avoid the hyphen this time, unless you want a comma, which would make the description redundant.
L22: has a double meaning. Intentional? (has to wait for the next line to determine that you laid something other than yourself on his chest).

That said, I find this poem to be excellent, and rather more worthy of the top spots than many I've seen. I call this a nine pending some of the polishing.
 — phyridean

Oh, wow, this is very touching. I got a little shiver when I read the end. Lovely!!!

I especially love the simplicity and efficiency of line 12.

I hate to be annoying, but why didn't you place the possessive apostrophe in Father's? It  is very distracting to me, especially since you've punctuated the rest of the poem.
 — Maela

Instant favorite! I am speechless.
 — marionette

touching and beautiful.
I added it to my favorites!
 — violet

liked it, great.
 — unknown

This is sad and beautiful.  I like how the characters become reversed in the first and last stanzas but that the scene remains the same.  
 — starr

It's a lovely poem about a protective father.
 — Meep

albino eyes are pink, not white.
 — unknown

correction to previous statement**
Albino ANIMALS have red eyes, and not blue.

Human albinos hoever, DO have blue eyes.
 — unknown

My father's eyes are hazel.
 — unknown

This is as beautiful as Memoirs of a miner's son...If not more...
 — Nostalgia

i dont know if anyone got this from the poem, but could it be read as abuse, possibly sexual abuse. Did anyone get that from this poem? I don't say this as any disrespect to the author or his father. Just a question.
 — unknown

This is lovely, to prior comment I wondered early on that the father/child/bed might move out of innocence but reread after your raised the Q of abuse and do not find it in anyway indicated (beyond the unfortunate ubiquity of abuse in our community) ie in the readers mind.  
I think for this poem which speaks to the more usual experience of hardworking devotion of  the loving father, though less often spelled out such a referance (in the mind of the reader) only adds to the impact of tenderness.
 — unknown

lovely poem. some minor suggestions to improve the flow:
L1 end with a comma
L2 change comma to a period
L3 delete "and", capitalise start of line
L3&4 end with a comma
L9 change period to a comma
L10 uncapitalise start of line, change comma to a period
L11 capitalise start of line
L14 change "till" to "'til" perhaps?
L17 delete comma
L18, 19 end with a comma
L20 end with a period
L21 "I kissed..", delete comma
L23 change "a" to "the", "read to me"
 — inutile

"Kissed his eyes closed" is such a beautiful expression. Absolutely the greatest term to describe saying goodbye to a loved one I have ever heard. Forget pennies.
 — Burrito

Wow, I normally don't like top rated ones on this site but this deserves to be up there. Very nicely written and so sad. I could almost feel this although thankfully I've not experienced this.
 — tony

great emotion.
 — lanezfairy

i loved this story.

I knew he kissed me every night,  
for I awoke in tattoos  
from where he held me

nice passage.

i had to read below to find out what coaling meant, and that clarified much.

sweet, poignant piece. elegantly told.

thank you
ilene
 — ilenelush

It looks like there has been a battle royal on the message boards in regards to this poem..
Mor, most uncharacteristically has come down heavily in favor of this poem.

Mor, as some older members know, is in fact Arminius Prodicus.
I wonder what he thinks of it so far.  
 — unknown

I like this poem greatly, however line seven did not appeal to me in the least, and tattoos imply permanence.
Where in fact in that is not so, I would have preferred  something like smudged affection as being nearer to the reality of a begrimed and loving father, administering the nightly ritual of affections embrace.

Mor.
 — Mor

real. transitory. moving.
 — unknown

*flails* OMG! This is like really good....I like it alot
Question though What's Coaling a forhead???? I'm kinda confused on that....is it by any chance when coal tranfers from one's hand to another's forhead?
 — totalyLost

Compliments come hard to me; I seem to find it easier
to write in a poetic format

Let not the black and colly hand of fate
In its true coaling touch, relate
For love too comes in many norms
And in its smudged affection forms.

of which a memory,
it now swarms.
As in those words
it too performs.
and imprints itself
upon the minds
when in the morning
Its love, it finds.

Mor.
 — Mor

i know you seem to have discussed 'coaling my forehead' already, but i just dont think it works.....also when i think of lighthouses i picture a bright yellow/white light....which conflicts with the 'blue'.....but keep on keeping on man, your writing is snug and tight (which is a compliment)
 — unknown

i like it a lot :)
 — brittany16

If Brittany likes it, I like it too.
 — unknown

My father’s eyes were blue
They shone as cobalt demons true.

Cobalt, when in its impure state of an oxide is then mixed with siliceous sand and infused together with an alkaline flux, gives us smalt, that beautiful blue Glass or enamel.
Cobalt, being from the German, the goblin of the mines. The coalminer’s demon.

It appears to me incredible that any one is having problems understanding a beautiful poem written in the vernacular of the miner. What would be the point of it written otherwise?

Mor.
 — Mor

I think there should be some form of punctuation after line 20, a comma preferably.
 — Rixes

I can feel your heart in this poem.
 — amio

There is little I could offer in the way of suggested improvements, as it's quite as close to perfect as one might find on PC. It reminded me a bit of the sweet sentimentality of Robert Munsch's "Love You Forever". If that (and this) doesn't tear your heart out, you haven't one. Bravo!
 — DrakeScott

wow i so love this poem that i shared it with my mom teary-eyed... and, this is only my second favorite poem among all poems on this site, and heaven, i have known only now that the two are by the same author... wow...
 — majan

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