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Useless Boys

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by

Justin Yoon

on 6 October 2016

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Transcript of Useless Boys

There's an automotive warehouse
in the north end of the city
backing on a field that for
a few weeks every summer
is full of daisies. My father
has his lunch out there. The warehouse,
his twenty-years stint; clocks stretched around
his legs; a pay cheque over his
mouth. The years are showing,
responsibilities wrecking
his heart.

Such a moth-life is not for me-
remember how we'd talk?...all our
plans were promises not to be
like our fathers. No direction
to go, just a finger of a
man telling us which way not to.
We were going to be free, dashed
away by any wind that came
along. No padlocked love, no tokens.
We said we were afraid of mousegrey
interiors, of men who limped,
of buildings where they paid you to age.

So how did it go?...one of my
arms has turned into a pen. I'm
blind now but there's braille. I build
a better world on paper
then sell it. Someone told me you
were living in an air
conditioner, just counting the
money. Here's to you. We must have
been crazy. Lucky us, useless
boys, found cures for all our dreams.

Barry Dempster
Useless Boys
Technical Elements & Effects
There's an automotive warehouse
in the north end of the city
backing on a field that for
a few weeks every summer
5 is full of daisies. My father
has his lunch out there. The warehouse,
his twenty-years stint; clocks stretched around
his legs; a pay cheque over his
mouth. The years are showing,
10 responsibilities wrecking
his heart.

Such a moth-life is not for me-
remember how we'd talk?...all our
plans were promises not to be
15 like our fathers. No direction
to go, just a finger of a
man telling us which way not to.
We were going to be free, dashed
away by any wind that came
20 along. No padlocked love, no tokens.
We said we were afraid of mousegrey
interiors, of men who limped,
of buildings where they paid you to age.

So how did it go?...one of my
25 arms has turned into a pen. I'm
blind now but there's braille. I build
a better world on paper
then sell it. Someone told me you
were living in an air
30 conditioner, just counting the
money. Here's to you. We must have
been crazy. Lucky us, useless
boys, found cures for all our dreams.

Barry Dempster
Tone & Major Idea
In “Useless Boys” by Barry Dempster, the tone of the poem is sad, tired, and longing. The speaker is just frustrated with his misfortunes and wants to become a writer so that others can share in his mediocrity. “The years are showing, responsibilities wrecking his heart (lines 9-11)”; this quotation demonstrates the feeling of sadness experienced by the speaker which is transmitted into the poem into the transition from light and pretty “a field that for a few weeks every summer is full of daisies (lines 3-5)” to dull and dreary in the first quotation. A feeling of tiredness is felt through the passage “Clocks stretched around his legs, a pay cheque over his mouth (lines 7-9)” and “I build a better world on paper (lines 26-27).” The first quote of the last sentence represents the tiredness and discomfort that his father experienced as his life was sucked away into his job and away from his family; in the second quote we see how the speaker views the world as dreary and difficult and how he turns to writing as an escape which all cumulates to being sad and tired. We get a hint of longing in the second stanza “Remember how we’d talk?...all our plans were promises not to be like our fathers (lines 13-15)” through the use of past tense words as well as him referring to his father which he views with scorn now but probably viewed with admiration back in the day. Overall this poem has a tone of sadness, longing, and tiredness which are all represented through transitions from light to dark, strong imagery and accurate word choice.

References: https://www.wattpad.com/87335911-papers-for-school-useless-dreamers-grade-12
Title Significance
Throughout the poem, we see that the author is cynical and does not want to commit to anything in his life. He sees himself as both trying to not be useless and already a useless boy. He feels he himself has become a “useless boy” by avoiding commitment in his life. From the second stanza to the third, we see that at one point he had hope for the future and now he does not; he has given up on any ideal of life he had when he was younger.
By Justin Yoon, Arteen Rafiei,
Tyler Robertson, Nigel Anderson, and Shea Murphy
Useless Boys Presentation
Real World Connection
The theme of “Useless boys” is relatable with the song “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon; the song is about going through a mid life crisis, similar to “Useless boys” which is about lowering standards and giving up on your dreams to take the safe road. In the song, the line “I want a shot at redemption, don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard” is sung. This relates to the line in the poem “Lucky us, useless boys, found cures for all our dreams.” The cure for their dreams has "given up" on them; now that they are going through life they regret the decisions that they have made. When Paul Simon says that he wants a shot at redemption, he means that he wants to start over and fix the mistakes that he made.







Coldplay's “Viva La Vida” relates with the theme of“Useless Boys” as well. “Viva La Vida” is about how he used to own his life or world and now he has fallen off the rails; he now looks back on his prime years and realizes the mistake he hass made. “I used to rule the world, now in the morning I sleep alone.” This relates to the line in the poem, “such a moth life is not for me, remember how we’d talk, all our promises were not to be like our fathers.” The poem talks about how he gave up on his dreams and ambitions and eventually ended up no better than his father.






"Traffic In The Sky" by Jack Johnson clearly represents the same message expressed in "Useless Boys." The song is about people in this life who have given up on themselves and have no ambitions in life anymore, “Puzzle pieces in the ground, no one ever seems to be digging, instead they're looking up toward the heavens with theories on the heavens, their shadows on the way to the heavens." This line shows a very bleak outlook on life, it describes people giving up on their life and saying that its over. “such a moth life is not for me, remember how we’d talk, all our promises were not to be like our fathers.” Useless boys is also about giving up on your dreams and taking the safe road.


"field that for a few"
Alliteration, directs attention and places emphasis to the daisy-filled fields that his father's lunch breaks are held at
"blind now but there's braille. I build a better world on paper then sell it" Alliteration, places further emphasis on the narrator's inadequate and unfortunate life
"one of my arms has turned into a pen"
Hyperbole, exaggerating how his continuous work
as a writer has taken over his life
"his twenty-years stint; clocks stretched around his legs; a pay cheque over his mouth."
Caesura, these semicolons serve a function to create dramatic pauses in the poem; it allots time to think about and empathize with the father's living standards
"Such a moth-life is not for me-remember how we'd talk?"
Caesura, places a dramatic pause between the author's thought of how he desires an exciting life and his memories of discussing with his brother, allowing us to sympathize with the narrator
"stint"
Connotation, invokes a feeling of negativity; a fixed job that is repetitive
"mousegrey"
Connotation, invokes a feeling of blandness, boring, dull
The first half of the stanza contains Imagery that describes the automotive warehouse; this helps us visualize the setting
Second stanza to third, Situational Irony
Ironic since he wanted to avoid his father's "moth-life," but as he becomes a writer he realizes that his life is similar to his father's
"moth-life"
Metaphor, compares his father's
life to one of a moth's; monotonous, boring, and basic
"living in an air conditioner"
Metaphor, associates his brother's workplace with one of comfort and relaxation
"Lucky us, useless boys, found cures for all our dreams"
Verbal Irony, the author's situation is the opposite of lucky; further indicates his unsatisfactory life
"dashed away by any wind that came along"
Personification, attributes the wind as a "guide" of sorts
The whole poem is an example of a "Stream of Consciousness" piece of literature, where the narrative is in the form of a character's thoughts. It allows for the character's inner thoughts to be revealed, bringing more depth into the narrative.
"clocks stretched around his legs"
Symbolism, symbolic of the time (clocks) that the father spends in the factory and
the physical duress it exposes him to (stretched around his legs)
The major idea(s) communicated by Barry Dempster in "Useless Boys" is portrayed with his feelings and emotions about his father; he does not find his father’s lifestyle to his liking. He even refers to his father as someone to avoid becoming in line 13-15; “…all our plans were promises not to be like our fathers.” This suggests a certain animosity toward his father and this can be identified as a major idea in the poem. The disapproval of the speaker toward the excessive commitment his father displays for his job is clear. The speaker believes that he must segment his time appropriately with his family. The commitment that the father possesses is so immense that the speaker observes him as a separated entity from himself and his family. Overall, the major overlying idea of the poem is portrayed through the grudge the speaker has over his father. This emotion is then displayed through the actual speaker himself. The speaker discovers that to his regret, he has overtaken his father's legacy of which he was not fond of. The speaker faces his biggest fear as he undergoes the change which manipulates him to mirror of his father. He was not expecting the sudden change in behavior, it was not his expectation to see himself in his father's shoes. The speaker had arrived to a point where he didn't even realize how he could have possibly gotten there.
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