Meeting the Bar: Lost connections

View from Brighton Pier to West Pier Skeleton and Brighton

From the walls
of the commercial heart we walk–

unconscious of dusk,
painting our faces shadowy and red,

unconscious of the lines,
forming around us and unconscious
of ourselves

We don’t remember where we started
and our aiming point’s escaped our view

as we walk independent
in the wake of others–

It is hot,

sweat runs in trickles from our forehead
and the organ’s silenced in our hand

We cross the night right-angled
and our bonds loose

still – if you’re a deliberate observer,
they are there–

and you will see
sitting on this bench on Brighton Pier,

silently observing,

the deck thick
with threads of lost connections
as i leave


This is the original text:

Dusk–of a summer night by Theodor Dreiser

And the tall walls of the commercial heart of an American city of
perhaps 400,000 inhabitants--such walls as in time may linger as a
mere fable.

And up the broad street, now comparatively hushed, a little band
of six,--a man of about fifty, short, stout, with bushy hair
protruding from under a round black felt hat, a most unimportant-
looking person, who carried a small portable organ such as is
customarily used by street preachers and singers.  And with him a
woman perhaps five years his junior, taller, not so broad, but
solid of frame and vigorous, very plain in face and dress, and yet
not homely, leading with one hand a small boy of seven and in the
other carrying a Bible and several hymn books.  With these three,
but walking independently behind, was a girl of fifteen, a boy of
twelve and another girl of nine, all following obediently, but not
too enthusiastically, in the wake of the others.

It was hot, yet with a sweet languor about it all.

Crossing at right angles the great thoroughfare on which they
walked, was a second canyon-like way, threaded by throngs and
vehicles and various lines of cars which clanged their bells and
made such progress as they might amid swiftly moving streams of
traffic.  Yet the little group seemed unconscious of anything save
a set purpose to make its way between the contending lines of
traffic and pedestrians which flowed by them.


At dVerse we’re running a Prose to Poetry challenge today – 3 pm EST. Means we take some text from a book and turn it step by step into poetry. The base for my above poem was taken from the opening of Theodor Dreiser’s American Tragedy. Oh and the pic is where i sat and wrote this…on Brighton Pier yesterday..


39 responses to “Meeting the Bar: Lost connections

  1. Great pic, must have been a nice serene scene as you wrote this verse note. You may have been silently observing but you sure captured a whole lot and brought it forth in anything but silence.

  2. Wow! Nice convergence of Dreiser and claudia! Love this type of transformation

    This poem really has created a solid identity and message — or rather set of messages open to intepretation. Very well done!

  3. Heavy, poignant and penned by a true word-artist. You keep raising the bar, Claudia and we come to expect more and more of you and of ourselves.

  4. this is a wonderful piece claudia, so finely crafted and felt…there is a bit of desperation in that becoming unconcious, the lost connections there at the end leave me with the greatest shiver though.

  5. Fantastic write (I really am starting to sound like a broken record in these comments!) But seriously loved the stroll within your imagery, and the pic is awesome.

  6. Claudia, the piece is wonderful, love the movement and the sentimentality here. But I’m curious, as I don’t know this book and can’t recall this form, prose to poem. I’ve known forms where you write a poem based on a book, but bit confused. Do you simply take the authors words and put them in poetic context or do you infuse your own words in as well. Hmm. very intrigued, guess I’ll have to wait to read up on it at 3:)

  7. “the deck thick
    with threads of lost connections
    as i leave”
    I love the grace of this poem.How it glides from line to line, each stanza connected by the lightest of threads.
    Quite beautiful!

  8. this is really deep:

    as we walk independent
    in the wake of others–

    has some thematic resemblance to the poem i posted here. hmmmmm interesting. {did not read yours first}

  9. What a powerhouse book I remember that being! Wow and the movie A PLACE IN THE SUN with Elizabeth Taylor at her most beautiful and Monty Clift too. Dazzling in black and white, the tragedy so real, so immediate. Greed and beauty .. the beauty, a standout in the choice you used. Very poetic!

  10. From the walls
    of the commercial heart we walk–

    unconscious of dusk,
    painting our faces shadowy and red…

    sitting on this bench on Brighton Pier,

    silently observing,

    the deck thick
    with threads of lost connections
    as i leave…

    Hi! Claudia…
    What a very beautiful, descriptive, and very vivid poem…The very beautiful photo takes your readers to the pier with you…too! [I love partly cloudy days too!]

    Thanks, for sharing the…Dusk–of a summer night by Theodor Dreiser…too!
    deedee 😉

  11. Claudia, I am struck by the subtlety of sorrow in this. There is such finesse in these verses. You’ve revived the prose with great poetry.

  12. Very interesting what you have done with this piece, I like it very much. You have bought an edge that the original lacks.

    Never been to Brighton, I hope you are having fun there.

  13. This is beautiful. I love how you condensed the meaning of the passage, gave it your own personality, came up with a poem. The last stanza stands out:

    the deck thick
    with threads of lost connections
    as i leave

    I like that you are writing poems of Brighton as you are there.

  14. Gorgeous pic, Claudia, and the poem was a few steps ahead and beyond the prose for me, very clean, cutting and full of a mood of suspension. The prose painted that as feeling as well, how lost we each are amid the crowd, but your poem did it with a more real emotion, for me.

  15. Love this! Count me another fan of “we cross the night right-angled” among so much else. You transcend– eclipse!–Dreiser, and your poem stands in its own right, completely independent of the prompt/challenge. Brava, Claudia!
    (I like the picture, too.)

  16. First, what an atmospheric image you captured! A marvelous spot to sit and write….and what came from that session of solitude in the midst of activity is truly beautiful. It enhances the original text for me, deepens the whole scene, makes me want more while being satisfied with what I have.