This Poem was Submitted By: Rachel F. Spinoza On Date: 2003-08-31 11:10:38 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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  Here is where the rag man steps on spiders on the cracked sidewalk  He is chanting:  Got you - gotyou - gotyou. Gotenyu Here, concrete pillars  rich with graffiti, loom black and red  splashed in pattern more worthy  of The Getty than this ghetto near the 210 freeway this godforsaken debris of a California dream.  Here is where last night at midnight  I heard a child’s voice  screaming from a window: Lookmommy, lookmommy  lookmommy, Mars!

Copyright © August 2003 Rachel F. Spinoza

This Poem was Critiqued By: Paul R Lindenmeyer On Date: 2003-09-07 20:00:29
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Rachel, your words paint the picture of humanity seeping out of concrete and asphalt, the sounds of the city, the graffiti, along with the old and young chanting give a wonderful snapshot of life amidst the metropolis. The assonance and story are a great meld. Very enjoyable to an ex city dweller. Thanks for posting.

This Poem was Critiqued By: Thomas H. Smihula On Date: 2003-09-04 09:33:40
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.09722
Rachel you take a moment in time and give not only a story but give me the visual along with it. I see three scenes in the first section a man looking for rags and while doing so trying to get them before they reach the cracks in the sidewalk. In the second section I do see the pillars of graffiti but I also see walls of art through my mind of graffiti that I have seen in the past that I would have liked to see as art but unfortunately it is still graffiti. Finally life is not what is expected and a young child seeing in amazement the brightest object in the sky beside the moon brings you back to reality. This is what I saw. My only suggestion would be to break this into three stanzas but that is really just my viewpoint. I like the verbiage you use in this one. Well done. Tom
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jeff Green On Date: 2003-09-02 02:57:58
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.12500
This is write perty. I love the colloquial language. Although I generally look a the Getty as a graveyard for dead art, it works so well with ghetto that I will not quibble. The free way does seem a bit jammed by war gods lately too. But I would loose the exclamation point, dono I just don't like 'um, too frivolous. Thanks for posting, got my vote.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Darlene A Moore On Date: 2003-09-01 13:15:38
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.08571
I really like the surprise..the ending...the suspense...what would a child after the previous painted scenes shout...and Mars is quite unexpected, an uplifting note to a depressive corner of the universe. Very well executed...definitely no suggestions for changes. One question...where is the narrator of the poem, someone walking along, driving past in a car? Another inhabitant of an apartment there?
This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2003-09-01 09:06:12
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.66667
Hello there, my friend, This poem lifts our eyes unto the hills, metaphorically at least, whence cometh both hope and help for our downtrodden lives. The child's cry of joy is just so perfect, the Creator's voice speaking through new eyes filled with wonder. On the night Mars was closest to earth, it was cloudy here, so I couldn't drag out my telescope to look at it. But I knew it was there. Earlier, I'd seen the polar ice cap and was suitably thrilled. Here is where the rag man steps on spiders on the cracked sidewalk He is chanting: Got you - gotyou - gotyou. Gotenyu The visual image of this man, whose only task seems to be killing spiders, is both pathetic and chilling. He is picking on the only thing that seems to be frailer than himself. The spiders must represent terrifying forces in his world that, in reality, are stomping on him. This is his tiny measure of control over the universe, I think. But the "got you" turns into something than sounds awfully close to "G-d in you", the divine connector that links all things. It reminds us of what is, yet the man appears to be rejecting even this small spark. He sees, but does not accept. Here, concrete pillars rich with graffiti, loom black and red splashed in pattern more worthy of The Getty than this ghetto near the 210 freeway The "black and red" patterns could be taken as foreshadowing of Mars itself, since these are its primary color patterns (plus the white ice) when viewed through a decent telescope. Use of "rich" transforms the graffiti into something that approaches purposeful art (the only kind many of the ghetto's inhabitants can possibly know). It's an affirmation of being alive and even joyous, with the inner light burning despite the outer squalor. "More worthy of the Getty than this ghetto" is both excellent wordplay and an apt juxtaposition; talent lies in unexpected places. this godforsaken debris of a California dream. Ah, how almost-despairing ... I like the debris/dream alliteration, and the total opposition of these two words. But it is only "almost" because of your next few lines. Here is where last night at midnight I heard a child’s voice screaming from a window: Lookmommy, lookmommy lookmommy, Mars! This is just amazing. The condensed "lookmommy" conveys excitement, childish eagerness, and an urgency that adults don't feel much anymore. We MUST look upwards, and we MUST be enthused by the prospect above our heads. We cannot let our adult pain wear us down to the level of sidewalk cracks and spider targets. I love this piece. It's not complex in structure or even diction but thematically, you can't deliver any message that's more important to us all. Brava, Brenda
This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2003-09-01 08:20:32
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.12000
Do you have access to these things my friend? Freeway near your own home, rag man and little boys in comparison.......I am missing much here in the country for I never hear yelling in the night and not even the sound of a train whistle as it passes through town......your piece is structured well, your words allow the reader to see the rag man placing him within the sidewalk cracks stomping on spiders as he chants....gotyou got you and the pilars red and black......significant of certain things I would imagine and then the little boy in wonder of what is appearing in the night sky ...the planet Mars....and his excitement perhaps in sharing it with him mom......lookmommy little boys excitement and dreams perhaps for the future compared to the rag man's loss dreams of his youth and his present situation......thanks for sharing and I hope I have not crucified your intentions though this is what has been presented to this reader....thank you for sharing and I hope those little boys and girls that might find this know in their hearts that dreams are made for turning into reality so onward with that Mars showing and space travel for future safe and God Bless, Claire
This Poem was Critiqued By: Irene E Fraley On Date: 2003-08-31 19:08:31
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.24242
Really good one Rachel! Contrast is a tool that is used well in this poem. "Here", says the poet, "in this place of lost dreams and desperation, wonder and hope still thrive in the mind of a child". The imagery in the poem portrays a place of desolation and perhaps maddness, which is in stark contrast to the excitement of the child's voice. The pillars are painted with contrasting red and blacks, the speech pattern of the rag man's "gotyou" is in contrast with the speech pattern of the child's "Lookmommy!" The whole thing works together to give the child's voice and his wonder more strength. I think this is powerful writing. Thanks Rachel Rene
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2003-08-31 16:41:21
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.82143
Dear Rachel: In this poem you give us a view of life as it takes place, richly, in places we often (as a society) overlook, or to which we turn our collective backs. You help us to *feel* the intensity of longing of those caught in these places. This is a subtle piece, and undoubtedly I have missed some of the layers of meaning, but this poem makes me want to pursue understanding, to look toward and not away. I sense my common humanity with all who speak within this poem - the rag man and his chant, the child who screams "Lookmommy . . .Mars!" This is the second poem of yours which I have read recently with a reference to the red planet in it. The first referenced 'wounded Mars' and this one references wounded humanity, I believe. But it isn't 'their wound' which you show us, but our own, if we will only allow ourselves to recognize it as such. Here is where the rag man steps on spiders on the cracked sidewalk These lines elicit the childhood chant, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back" for this reader. And the rag man is chanting He is chanting: Got you - gotyou - gotyou. Gotenyu As in "A gut morgn dir, gotenyu" - from a Yiddish song? Here, concrete pillars rich with graffiti, loom black and red The visual imagery is at once harsh, even threatening, but somehow comforting. It is 'home' to some, I think you want us to realize. splashed in pattern more worthy of The Getty than this ghetto near the 210 freeway Here we visualize the graffiti we've each seen in our own cities, much of which does indeed seem almost museum quality - or perhaps what is sometimes seen in museums is 'street graffiti' quality. this godforsaken debris of a California dream. Here is where last night at midnight The question arises for me after reading the above concerning whether the "debris" of a "California dream" (long neglected idealism?) is only so because of our (collective) neglect and disenfranchisement of the poor, the mentally ill, and the young (graffiti artists) and very young (the child who shouts in excitement at the sight of Mars). I heard a child’s voice screaming from a window: Lookmommy, lookmommy lookmommy, Mars! This poem hits hard. It needs to. How can we nurture those who live in the rubble of "The Freeway" - the speedy, convenient, 'free way' in which we each pursue our personal dreams, unaware of those who are not 'free' to do so partially because of our own blindness? These are my thoughts in response to this piece. Powerful, thoughtful work. Brava! All my best, Joanne
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