Bed and Board, Newport in June

by | Jonathan Cardew - February Day 1

Breakfast the next morning has an awkward tinge. All the could-be-coupled around a table of eggs. Each arrived in staggered line the night before at the thin-walled lodgings. Only now to match the muffled sounds of earlier to singe-blushed faces. The silence, too, has a color that accompanies the two who stayed in The -bluest- Blue Room. Even amongst a larger shared hush, they are easy to spot. Less new, more old boot. No one lingers over their tea or fresh-squeezed juice. The slight chatter of weather and of traffic, what is showing at the local cinema (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and where the best place to lunch resides are broached, delicately. Each privately notes not to dine there, now. But any chance to banter is rushed. Bacon can’t be chewed fast enough. There’s a series of glances, who will make their excuses first, an air, a collective wondering, is it too much of a scene if we all get up at once? Last one to Land’s End and the ghost of Edith Wharton…, one jokes and let’s tail off. Rather, it’s a general hum-bunched march towards the red front door.

12 Comments

  1. Jennifer Todhunter

    As always of your work, this skirts the line of poetry and prose so beautifully there is no distinguishing between the two. I feel there is room for more specificity, a greater build of the time before and during and a hint of what comes afterwards. I loved the line “No one lingers over their tea or fresh-squeezed juice.” and wanted more of a moment after that, something to connect to, a person or a thing, no matter how fleeting. Even if this is generally about this B+B, I would love to see that snapshot that I have grown to adore in your work.

    • Rogan

      Thank you, Jen! Really appreciate the note to dig deeper. It does need something more grounding it, I think.

  2. Jonathan Cardew

    Rogan,

    It’s like a breath of fresh air reading your prose. Great to read your work again in these courses! I had to say this line out loud because it is so lumpy and alliterative: “All the could-be-coupled around a table of eggs.” This line could be a story unto itself.

    And then we have poetry! Phrases like “The silence, too, has a color” and “The slight chatter of weather and of traffic” creates this beautiful mood in the piece and the ending delivers a visual punch with the red door.

    I love paragraph pieces like this. Such satisfaction, to land at the end of a well-crafted paragraph. Not sure what you want to do with this, but here are a few suggestions:

    HOW ABOUTS:

    1. Edith Wharton? To change the dynamics, bring Edith Wharton front and center (even arbitrarily), perhaps in the first line: “Last one to Land’s End and the ghost of Edith Wharton…, one jokes and let’s tail off.” This might anchor us to the story more.

    2. Following on from the previous suggestion, you could write an entirely new piece entitled: The Ghost of Edith Wharton.

    3. I agree with Jen’s comments about more persons, things.

    VENUES:

    Who knows, right, but I still like to think of those venues. As I was reading it, I thought of Newfound, perhaps because of the mention of Land’s End.

    Thanks for sharing! Let me know if you have any questions.

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

  3. Benjamin Niespodziany

    “Even amongst a larger shared hush, they are easy to spot. Less new, more old boot.”

    Love the language here! Every line feels like it has a mouth full of food in the best of ways. It’s smooth, but it really forces you to read slowly the poetics of this piece.

    I really like “a general hum-bunched march towards the red front door” but part of me wants to see this piece end on the question: “Is it too much of a scene if we all get up at once?” Leaves a bit more ambiguity, maybe, instead of a closed book. Beautiful piece regardless. I could see myself reading a whole collection of little bed & breakfast slice-of-life snapshots like this.

  4. Al Kratz

    Good stuff. I loved this one “The silence, too, has a color that accompanies the two who stayed in The -bluest- Blue Room” I did expect too to land on something more specific, like I felt with these two. more old boot, that we were zooming in on them and moving from the collective we to them specific, but I wasn’t disappointed by any means not to. It seems like the hints are there and maybe that’s the point of this awkward tinge, that even the people within it don’t get specific but stay in the general hum.

  5. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Rogan, feels like forever since I’ve had the pleasure of reading a new piece from you. This is lovely, subtle and lush. The “we” or the collective is explored in all of its B & B-ness or air-b&b or that group entity that comes down from the night prior. It also reminded me why I so dislike the cramped-ness and tight, spare air of such a place, no matter how “nice” the accommodations. The forced cheeriness of hosts, and forced politeness with guests. I was also seeking a closer, personal experience. And if not that, then something that REALLY GOES AWRY! So happy you are here. Giddy, almost.

  6. Len Kuntz

    Hi Rogan,

    Your writing has such a distinct voice to it. I loved how quiet this is in the beginning, then the tempo picks up some urgency at the end. All of the colors and white space make a piece that requires a lot of study and introspection. I especially liked this bit–“a collective wondering.” It seems to sum up what’s happening. As a whole, so poetic and terrific.

  7. Todd Clay Stuart

    Rogan, I love the poetry in this. I love the collective we in this. I’d be like, glad they left, that means more bacon for me. haha I think you could add more specifics here, but you don’t want to overload a single breathless paragraph or prose poem like this, so you probably wouldn’t want to make it significantly longer. Maybe just a few more specific, telling details, and possibly more Edith Wharton. Nice work!

  8. John Steines

    Hello Rogan. This reads so smoothly, with only hints it seems, for me to draw my own conclusions. I wonder why you mention: ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ and what exactly is the locked-in reference (if that is the reference)? I can guess and make it up, which is fine. You seem to have a lot of unspoken here, intimation, which I love, and am so protective of within my own work, that the fewer clues within the mystery seem to hold more power. Just not everyone will see that or link in, and I know that about my own work. As other’s have commented, I feel I need just a touch more to send me off into my weekend ‘expedition’. Cheers. Always beautiful work.

  9. David O'Connor

    Rogan, this really captures those communal breakfasts in transit. I love all the references woven in–adds layers. That last line, and most of the prose, is pure poetry. Beautiful sounds strung together, nice one!

  10. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Rogan, Always a pleasure to read your work. I’m a fan, and this is such a lovely bit of human interaction. I love the staggered ‘i” sounds in “Each arrived in staggered line” and the image that line portrays. The wryness of this: “and where the best place to lunch resides are broached, delicately. Each privately notes not to dine there, now.” I love this as it is, but I could easily see this as one part of a longer story.

  11. Wilson Koewing

    Rogan,

    I really enjoyed the framing of this piece and the entry point. It was like opening up an intricate little box. I guess ultimately my only suggestion would be specifics. It possesses a little bit of that sort of vagueness that can sometimes make poetry inaccessible for me. I guess I just want to be beat over the head and not have to do a lot of work to figure out what I’m reading about. lol. Lovely language.

    Best,
    Wilson

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