This Poem was Submitted By: Sandra J Kelley On Date: 2004-03-13 21:24:47 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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Poems I Cannot Write

I cannot write love poems. Each time I try  I write instead sunsets,  grey or pink, over Lake Ontario when the wind picks up and the tops of the waves go from white to flame then to inky black, or, I write about lightning in August, how it is so humid that even before the rain my hair is plastered dripping to my head, sometimes, it is blankets of snow forming, did you know snow  can fall on an almost clear moonlit night, white flakes illuminated  against the black sky?

Copyright © March 2004 Sandra J Kelley

Additional Notes:
Well, I have revised this one since I last posted it and am thinking of including it in the anthology so any help is appreciateed. Sandra

This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2004-04-06 14:24:28
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.96774
Sandra: I want to critique this in the way that you do, so helpfully, trimming, fine-tuning a word, hearing the heart of the poet beating beneath the flimsy symbols of words. But I can't. I can't critique as you do, just as you "cannot write love poems." Every poem you write, in one way or another, is a love poem. The irony and the glory of this understated yet ecstatic poem is its ability to do exactly what it is you say you cannot do. By expressing your emotions through the elements, you take us to the essence of aliveness. We feel what it is to be a flesh and blood and bones human, aware in every sense, keen to every nuanced line. I have read this many times and always return to it. Each time I've thought of new ways I wanted to respond to it for you - and each time it simply takes my breath (and words) away. This is my way of saying 'YES' to this in the anthology. It is one of your finest. It is "Sandra J. Kelley" at her most passionate, most wry, and one who keeps my nature-loving, romantic soul grand company. I cannot write love poems. Each time I try I write instead sunsets, grey or pink, over Lake Ontario when the wind picks up and the tops of the waves go from white to flame then to inky black, In the phrase "love poems" you are alluding to romantic poems, I think. But your nuances, the stance you take, could apply equally well to 'religious' poems, or 'mystical' poems, or poems 'about' enchantment. It becomes immaterial, because as readers, we are brought into the moment by your exquisitely passionate imagery. And your use of the short 'i' and long 'i' sounds, for example, is like a sustained exhalation -- but one of anticipation rather than culmination, at least in this reader's opinion. "pink/wind/picks/inky/humid/dripping/did/moonlit/illuminated" for example. The first person singular pronoun in the poem, the "I" in "Poems I Cannot Write" is repeated in the sounds in "write/lightning/sometimes/night/white"--and these sounds are evocative of the "flame" in L7. Colors add heightened intensity to this sensory-sensual piece: grey, pink, white, flame and black. One suggestion only -- what about replacing the second "black" in the last line? Perhaps -- ebony -- onyx -- raven -- sable -- charcoal -- slate -- dusky, for example. No other word says "black" better than your original choice, I realize, but in a poem of this length, repeated words stand out. or, I write about lightning in August, how it is so humid that even before the rain my hair is plastered dripping to my head, --Maybe a period here, or a semi-colon. sometimes, it is blankets of snow forming, --perhaps a period here, as well did you know snow can fall on an almost clear moonlit night, white flakes illuminated against the black sky? I am completely engulfed by the final lines, as much as I was intrigued and mesmerized by the first lines, and thrilled by the middle. The sense of something impending, about to happen, of anticipated delight is so keen with "blankets of snow forming" and the question you pose. I love the soft sounds of "did you know snow" which seems to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It is like hearing someone whispering in the dark. Almost a reference to physics--but the question immediately placed me in the moment, made me feel my own response to the vision of the "white flakes illuminated" against a night sky, on a "clear moonlit night." These lines bring back the awe, the sense of immanence and magic that I've felt watching snow fall on nights like these. This is a breath-taking, luminous work. My thanks, Sandra, for a "love poem" you certainly have written here! I am a bit in love with it, and wish it well on its journey into the world of print and book signings. Brava! Kudos for a superb poem, once more. All my best, Joanne

This Poem was Critiqued By: Marcia McCaslin On Date: 2004-04-05 22:07:45
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.66667
Hi Sandra--I can't be sure I have any help for you, but I sure do have empathy and that's why I'm commenting. I KNOW JUST WHAT YOU MEAN! Sounds funny, I guess, for most folks who quite naturally write love poems, but for me, it's next-to impossible. I do write love poems about OTHER people in love, but can'[t quite get it out for me. You too, huh? In country music (which I write) a love song is essential and they call it being "commercial"--Well, like you, I can write about cowboys and horses and "cool mountain mornings" but just can't get the heart-to-heart on paper (or tape). However,k what you have here is a lovely nature description with a little touch of Physics thrown in for good measure at the very end. You know, your colors are alive on the page and you make the reader feel the wind. Your title is great--saying what you can't do--and then doing what you can do--and very well. I would vote yes for the anthology. Thankis for a great read! My Best, Marcia
This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2004-04-04 15:50:16
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.84615
Sandra, this reads as essentially finished, to me. My only small suggestion would be a period instead of a comma after "head" and also after "forming", to give the following lines their own caps and make of them separate ideas/questions. I can relate to it 100%, as well. In fact, I have a poem here that also deals with my own inability to write love poems, as they're too damn hard [I mean, who cares about one's intensely personal struggles in that department?]!! Universality is the only thing that matters, really, because we all suffer disappointment and elation. In this poem, you've achieved that universal approach, with your remarkable visuals. In many ways, I can intuit the use of environmental metaphor for the various aspects of love, expressed in words that hide true intent. The sunsets may be the endings of relationships; the lightning could easily substitute for physical passion and conflicts that arise from it; the snow could signify cooling of ardor, even though it may have been unexpected. The moonlit night suggests romantic inclinations, with a surprise shift in plans out of that deceptively clear sky. You've twice referred to "black" - which is a backdrop against which one plays out his or her small story. It's an indifferent setting. The lonely feel so isolated; being unloved is like a prelude to dying, I think. You might want to change one of the blacks to a synonym like jet or obsidian or just dark. But the repetition reinforces the speaker's sense of being by herself in an unfeeling world. Still, we grab beauty where we find it, and joy can come from a space beyond human creation. It's better than nothing, I tell myself. Lovely - haunting - writing; I'd include it if I were you. I hope you'll tell us when this collection is published. My Best, Brenda
This Poem was Critiqued By: Thomas Edward Wright On Date: 2004-03-31 14:15:38
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.25806
wonder if you should return to the opening theme in the closing?
This Poem was Critiqued By: Leo Wilder On Date: 2004-03-22 14:59:36
Critiquer Rating During Critique: Unknown
Sandra, This is a love poem. "I write instead sunsets, grey or pink, over Lake Ontario" This is love. "I write about lightning in August" This too is love. I love your love poems. Leo
This Poem was Critiqued By: Wayne R. Leach On Date: 2004-03-16 22:58:22
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.65909
Very picturesque piece, Sandra. I enjoyed it immensely - and yes, I did know about the snow, living in Maine. :>) I see you've selected one of the most difficult categories of poetry to explain and not write about, love. This is one that everyone must write sooner or later, I guess. The suggestion I might make would be to see if, after L1's sentence, there might be another place to end one before the last line. I think maybe a little more hesitation by placing a period or semi-colon after "black", then maybe another period before the final question. The idea is well presented and presented in an excellent form with a nice easy rhythm to it, making for an enjoyable read. I would change none of the imagery, and really try to keep the tempo as is, should you decide to edit at all. Best wishes, wl. P.S. - I know a lot of critiquers copy in the whole poem and comment line by line, at length. I am not one to agree with that policy, so forgive me if this format isn't to your liking. Thanks for posting.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Sherri L Smith On Date: 2004-03-14 18:39:05
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Dear Sandra, Maybe you don't think you can write love poems, but I disagree with that. You have written about the glories of nature and how you love it, and to me that is a love poem. In my view, a love poem to God, as the creator of all those glorious sites that you describe in such vivid imagery. This one is very nice Sandra, it will be on my favorites list! Sherri
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jennifer j Hill On Date: 2004-03-14 14:53:37
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Dear Sandra, This is beautiful. Your use of irony is excellent with this title and first line. If indeed those things aren't love, what is. Your technique of decribing the color of the wave tips before (white), during (flame) and after (inky black)sunset is spectacular imagry. I especially enjoy "inky black" as I have seen the water at night take on the look of ink so your words call up that memory. I can feel the wet plastered hair and see the see the snowflakes fall against the black backdrop. This imagry of calling upon memory is slendidly executed! I don't have any suggestions for revision, but couldn't let this go without taking the time to comment and wish you well with your anthology. Good luck to you, Jennifer
This Poem was Critiqued By: Rachel F. Spinoza On Date: 2004-03-14 11:15:06
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.87500
Poems I Cannot Write great ironic title - i I cannot write love poems. Each time I try  I write instead sunsets,  grey or pink, over Lake Ontario [lovely] when the wind picks up and the tops of the waves [perhaps "turn" for a softer vowel here?"go from white to flame then to inky [too ordinary an adjective]black, or, I write about lightning in August, how it is so humid that even before the rain my hair is plastered dripping to my head [WOnderful - we can feel it - great tactile desciption] sometimes, it is blankets of snow forming, did you know snow  can fall on an almost clear moonlit night, white flakes illuminated  against the black sky? lovely, lovely ending to a wonderfuly visual piece best of luck wih the collection, Rach
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jordan Brendez Bandojo On Date: 2004-03-14 00:04:22
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.69231
Hi Sandra, Though you can't write love poems, but you can write LOVEly images to make a poem lovely as this one. As for me, I usually write love poems. Maybe because I still in my twenty's where love and admirations abound. And if you're inlove, you usually write love poems. Anyway, congratulations to your making of book. I hope it would be realized as soon as possible. Back to your poem, it is rife with splendid imageries that entice this reader. It is always refreshing and relaxing watching beautiful sunsets and waves but I am afraid of lightning! Hehe! The inclusion of the proper noun Lake Ontario manifests originality. I like the use of question to end the poem. It makes the readers participate to the thought. The image it throw is wonderful "snow can fall on an almost clear moonlit night". The only line that makes me think of suggestion is: "it is blankets of snow forming", you are using "it" which is a singular, so maybe making "bankets" singular without an 's'. Or maybe, "they are blankets". Not a big deal though. Overall, the poem stands strong in ints splendid imagery and nice presentation. Do you have a website where we can probably view your works of anthology? Jordan
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