The Ghosts of Ron Defer

The Ghosts of Ron Defer
by halifax
Here and there I’d learned his name.
It was spoken between the adults,
Always with a look down at me
To be sure I had no idea what was said.
Of course I had no idea, sure though I was that I did.
My mom had loved a boy in her circle of friends.
It wasn’t my father but before him,
He was a friend of a friend with our families crossed somehow.
It sounds now to me as confusing.
The silence that came with his name
Told me more about him than I wanted to know.
Just then, when his name came up again,
I had the chance to ask for more.
Without thinking, I thought I’d better not.
I kept the look on my face like I didn’t understand.
Even today, with my grandfather a great great,
My mother close behind,
I didn’t change the look.
I think I know why.
Of course, I have no idea sure though I am that I do.

0 thoughts on “The Ghosts of Ron Defer

  1. There’s nothing that really draws me into this poem. Sure, it’s got a tangled, unique situation happening, but there is no image that entertains the reader (other than the one posted above the poem). I don’t care about the ghost. It’s also hard to read, and it seems intended that way. I’m all for challenging poems, but only when they are well executed.

  2. While a bit harsh, I can agree a bit with the above comment. The poem is confusing and didn’t really leave me with much. I can assume thats the purpose of this poem. I used to experiment with poetry in trying to write a poem that said absolutely nothing, but it was more zaney I guess. Anyone else see something in this?

  3. Sounds like the narrator of this poem is a bastard child, and everybody talks in whispers. The poem relies pretty heavily on an improvised meter which is sort of interesting – gives it a little bit of an AA Milne feel in places, which seems appropriate being it speaks from childhood memories. Its not the greatest poem I’ve ever read, but its not too bad either. kind of eccentric and engaging if you ask me.

  4. Explanations from me would only serve as further evidence of poetic failure. I enjoyed writing it. It helped me to write it. The audience dictates success. It failed for some notable readers.
    Fogman, while I am a bastard it’s not because of unknown parentage.
    In the future, I’ll strive to keep my shared writings better executed and on the inside of approachable.

  5. I wouldn’t classify this as a failure. Tonite I had a long conversation about this very thing. There’s obviously something about this wanting to break thru and thats whats possible interesting me. What’s inspiring such a dialogue. There’s an odd common ground established beneath the fog of this… and I am for one am interested to see a better told truth thru this form.

  6. I don’t think ‘approachable’ is entirely the issue. I’ve read plenty of excellent poems, by Celan for instance, that are far more oblique than this one. Nor is the poem a ‘failure’ – its only your own creative output, and like I said above I found it to be somewhat interesting. With further edits, you could probably find elements to strengthen and new ideas to bring out the emotional strength of the situation you’re talking about. I think its fairly ripe. My take on it relating to the ‘bastard’ child comes from my own experience, and the whispering too. If anything, the poem is only underdeveloped.

  7. Yeah, it’s tough spilling your guts and then having people point at it… especially with a poem as personal as this. You get used to it after a while.
    From my meager perspective, I felt that “The Ghosts of Ron Defer” alludes to a child’s, and later, a man’s curious imaginings of his identity and attempt to reconcile a child’s perspective of idealism (and innocence, perhaps) with adult reality…hence ‘ghosts’ are all the possible shades of the unknown associated with ‘Ron Defer’, who I believe is the boy’s biological father [hinted at in the first four lines: “It {his name, Ron Defer} was spoken between the adults,/ Always with a look down at me” (‘a look down’ having a double meaning…literally down to a child and then down as in a disapproving/judging immorality sort of way; [the idea is further purported by this statement a couple lines later: “My mom had loved a boy in her circle of friends./ It wasn’t my father [the acting step?] but before him.]
    The child has an inkling of an idea what’s up in the poem, but remarkable has the wisdom not to pursue his natural need ‘to know’…”Of course I had no idea, sure though I was that I did.” Even more amazing, the child turned to man persists in this unsettling decision…”Of course, I have no idea sure though I am that I do” (referring to “I kept the look on my face like I didn’t understand.” when Ron Defer’s name came up in conversation.)
    The poem, ironically, describes a transition where there is no apparent change in the child/man subject’s line of thinking…but that’s only on the surface! Look deeper and there is a profound evolution in understanding and ‘coming to grips’. This is only an opinion…I may be reading too much into it.
    The poem’s form struck me as unique: Lines of 3,4,and 5 with 3 couplets sporting an irregularity that is life itself. The two single lines beginning with ‘Of course’ (one on line 5 and the other ending the poem) are really the poem’s hinges, as if the poem were a door and to walk into its beauty all one need do is ‘knock’ along these thematic laterals.
    I also appreciated much of the poetic ‘touch’ thruout poem such as the use of inversion in syntax to illustrate feeling: “He was a friend of a friend with our families crossed somehow./ It sounds now to me as confusing.”
    Nicely written!
    Me personally, I took a different road, and looked up my ‘biological father’ who I hadn’t seen in 20 years since I was 7…we had relations for a while but, you know, it just wasn’t meant to be…it opened up a big can of worms and skeletons in the closet. Of course, I had a bit of an idea that would happen even though I thought I didn’t.

  8. That pretty much nails it together Quasimofo. Even so, it is a poem that hasn’t made the transition to a mature finished work. I really need to improve the content and increase the depth or layers of meaning to make it worth the read.
    Pat is right in his reading. He got nothing out of it. In my own rereading (after his critique) I recognized that it is hollow with nothing that pushes a reader to care about the titled subject of the poem. “The Ghosts of Ron Defer” is a poem that asks for more of the reader then the content rewards for the effort.
    I think I can make it an easier read. I may have to interview my mom on who Ron Defer is in order to make that happen. I’ll see what I can make happen the next time I talk to her.

  9. My mother refused to talk about Ron Defer. I changed the title to “Shades of Ron Defer”. I rewrote the entire thing. This is my new version of the poem:
    In my nights of picturing Mother barren
    There creeps a name into the frame,
    A taunting whispered unwanted secret.
    Thousands of words in each I own of her.
    Words enough I have never want for finding.
    His name is not relevant to the story I tell.
    The scrapbook shows a white sateen dress,
    A tall cake for taking the wives communion,
    Distanced red eyes in a foreign crowd blur into brown,
    Full cups and gaping plates in line waiting for the picture,
    Centered consuming the first piece is our father,
    And his bride’s patient face wearing her share unashamed.
    Flip through to the first two siblings buried face deep
    And tousled after a bath together tugging at her robe.
    We were stealing the strength she wore.
    Her eyes look heavy but tender in terrycloth.
    The photographer’s shadow pop flashed from her vanity.
    It stood mirrored on the wall behind her.
    Plastic sheet turns to show two more in tow.
    Totaled four for now her children look to her.
    An orange sun season with Polaroid burn
    Shows tables full sharing her communion again.
    The host sits displayed honey-glazed and transfigured.
    Emptied plates she’ll baptize later litter the scene.
    Seen through pages the testament of a sacrifice.
    Alone she’d named it and called it out in anger,
    “Working my fingers down to the fucking bone!”
    And showed us her hand as proof it was true.
    Kissing her cheek in the shot is I in stripes and plaid.
    My sisters wear bright cotton, posing with faked smiles.
    Hearing a name from a time when she was not my savior
    Unsettles my tight box of witness pictures.
    The wise shades of black and white pictures omit him.
    Pretty scenes composed to tell of purity and poise
    Defer for now though the thought pries.
    I have held the story true too long to make corrections.

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