Unappreciated by Joy Kettren


after Van Gogh’s Wild Roses and Thistle in a Vase

Insulting, to be placed
in this odiferously sweet
bath, forced to stand
next to roses, no less.
I am a soldier! I saved
a country. Symbol of bravery,
courage, loyalty!
While these blooms, with
whom I share a vase preen
like beauty queens.
Attempt to caress
with their silky petals.
Thorns hidden, ignored.
Like me. Envy?
Pah! Hardly.

Joy Kettren’s Questions:

1. The inspirations was Van Gogh’s “Wild Roses and Thistle in a Vase” Were the descriptors clear enough?

2. Did the poem appear to be complete, or did it need more?

3. Was the allusion to saving a country, being a soldier and symbol for valor understood? The reader would need to know a little about the history of the thistle and it’s symbolism or meaning.

Reply directly to the poet: joykettren (at) hotmail (dot) com
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  1. Scott Reid  •  Apr 24, 2012 @10:18 pm

    The reasons I like this, Joy, are for its tone, its point of view, and for its brevity of language.

    As for tone, I like the thistle looking down her nose at the roses. Most of us would look past the thistle to the roses, for their beauty and smell. That the thistle is speaking allows the poem to look past the roses. Insulting to be placed next to roses — love that.

    Point of view: a thistle persona poem. I don’t know of too many poems taking the point of view of the thistle. Not sure I understand the thistle reference in re: Van Gogh’s use of it in the painting. Do I need to know the thistle’s symbology for courage, bravery and loyalty? Maybe Van Gogh saw himself as a thistle among the roses of the post-impressionists.

    Brevity of language here helps tighten the focus and conclude with the dismissal of the beauty queens.

    Maybe rethink the title. It seems a bit too broad for the sentiments stated here.

    Thanks for your post.

    Scott Reid

  2. Joy  •  Apr 25, 2012 @8:13 am

    Scott, thanks for the great critique. Yeah, I wasn’t sure the symbolic history was needed, except for that being the reason for the thistle’s feeling of superiority. Thanks again for taking the time to give this a thoughtful review.

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