Cleaving, the Video

Bluebird and Owl, Favorite Mugs

Back in September of 2016, my poem, “Cleaving,” was published in the online literary magazine, Yellow Chair Review.  I almost forgot that five years ago, my two youngest sons and I did a little recording of it for YouTube. But after the editing of the poem and the video, we decided that it was good enough to submit for publication somewhere and kept it “under wraps.”

At that time I had started sporadically submitting things to be published and most places considered anything Google-able to be “previously published.” Almost nobody wants to print previously published poems. And though the words were not “printed,” they did appear onscreen in the minute and forty-five-second clip, so we thought it best to just “temporarily” shelve the wonderful piece of production, as of that time seen only by a few friends.

Well, I’ve been submitting more regularly and frequently the last two years, and thankfully Yellow Chair Review saw fit to include “Cleaving” in its 8th issue. Six months have passed and while you can read it there on their pages, along with two other poems they were gracious enough to publish, I decided it was time to dust off the video. 

Certainly, I could have re-recorded it but why? The audio quality could be better and our video prowess has probably improved but it was so much fun recording the thing with my boys. And after all, that is part of what The Dad Poet blog is about. The boys were teenagers when we did this, now ages 20 and 22. It’s not like they are getting younger. Besides, the adorable pair of bird mugs, the bluebird and the owl, have long since been cracked and lost as coffee casualties. The poem, though, has barely been changed, other than perhaps a word or a comma.

So belatedly, here is the video of the poem called “Cleaving,” which I wrote originally, not to mourn a lost relationship so much as to explore the fascinating fact that the verb “to cleave” is actually an antonym of itself. Some call words like this contronyms. That is to say, words that have two opposite meanings. To cleave can mean to break apart as well as to hold together.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Alan says:

    Hey, that’s my owl cup!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WHERE have you BEEN all these years!? ☺ hahaha


  2. Love it! Nice camera work too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Scott! That camera work was all Micah–when he was 15! He’s started blogging and recording his voice again over at his blog:

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brian Dean Powers says:

    What stood out for me was your emphasis and slight pause at the word “compromised.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Part of how that worked out was the way I do my line endings. The word just hanging there, that wasn’t an accident and so it allowed me to come down a little harder on the beginning of the next line, though I may have dragged that comma out a bit. It’s funny, I used to get questioned in workshops for my line endings until a professor pointed out to me what she thought I was doing. I kinda have a whole theory in my head about it, though I admit it’s entirely flexible and variable, but it does inform how I read a piece, or how I hear it informs how I line it.
      I’m glad it worked for you. That’s gratifying to hear. Forgive me for taking it as an opportunity to become this self-absorbed and to go on about my process. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Brian Dean Powers says:

      There really aren’t any rules for line breaks, just some general ideas. I mostly go with my gut feeling.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Yes, that’s true. There are no rules for line endings but I agonize myself over reasons for them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. J. A. Panian says:

    I adore contronyms!! What a fabulous word! (I’d forgotten what they were called.)
    Another one that I love is “ravel.”

    Love the cutting of the text with the video footage and the domestic depth in this. Just how resonant every little, often over-looked, thing can be. The poems live within and around us, overlaying and underlying the mundane.

    BTW, seeing you pull that cleaver out of the soapy water made me cringe, I’m afraid. Too many years in food-service. Putting ‘sharps’ in dish-water is a big no-no. Cut myself a number of times this way. But this just adds another layer to the poem for me. What hidden hurts (potential and realized) lie hidden beneath the cleansing, lemon-scented surface?
    Seriously. Makes me wince.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Yes, I agree. I worked in restaurants for years and that scene was all very calculated. Noticed how slowly it went. And though you can’t tell from the camera’s angle, I had my eye on the handle though the suds the whole time. Probably wasn’t setting a good example, though. And I admit, seeing that footage still freaks me out.
      Thank you for those kind and engaging comments!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. J. A. Panian says:

      I see that I should have given you more credit ( no shocker there).
      Very well calculated indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I guess it’s bad to say that I am happy this gives people a jolt? I mean the poem stands on its own and Yellow Chair found it worth publishing, but dang, the interpretation with this video is half poem, half creepy horror short. 🙂 Still gives me the shivers.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. J. A. Panian says:

      Not bad to say at all. As long as a poem makes someone actively *feel* something (I.e. Other than boredom. etc) I figure it’s doing its job.
      Someone just commented that one of my photos, combined with my chosen title, made them “shudder”. Still trying how to say I’m glad without saying “Yay! My stuff made you feel bad!”
      But really. If it had that effect, I am gratified.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, coming back to all of this now and I find that already Yellow Chair Review has shut its doors and the website itself is no longer available. Grr . . . Good thing I have a second chapbook coming out with all three of these poems in it! More details about Angels & Adultery soon!


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