This Poem was Submitted By: Rick Barnes On Date: 2003-11-15 16:00:54 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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Finding Hope

Configured as they are,  Breaking the ash gray sky Into fractal jigsaw pieces, Bare trees hold that heavy November scape in their outstretched Dormant and barren arms. This is what hope looks like, After the harvest, To northern birds  Preparing to stay the winter.

Copyright © November 2003 Rick Barnes

This Poem was Critiqued By: Erzahl Leo M. Espino On Date: 2003-12-07 17:28:38
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.72727
Hi Rick, This is another display of your profundity about life in general. When you see something, though it be “season” or “nature” or “creatures”, the real essence and inspiring meaning of this never escapes your pen. Here in your entry “Finding Hope”, those Northern birds are the inspiration in “preparing to stay the winter”. Your description of the backdrop of November sky is visually gloomy yet entertaining especially the use of your words “jigsaw pieces”. In every short poem you made, it perfectly delivers a complete thought. Satisfying your audience with a good answer. I never thought that “finding hope” can be seen in the midst of the clouds, in the flock of birds, in seasons. Thank you Rick for another remarkable message that is truly unforgettable. Excellent! Keep on writing and I will keep on reading! :) As always, Erzahl :)

This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2003-12-06 18:30:21
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.92683
Hi Rick: I can't pass this one by. You offer us such a new perspective on the whole concept of hope; one person's desolation is another person's promised land. Or bird's, in this case! The neutrality of sky color and unprepossessing shapes of the trees make this seem as if it will become a descriptive lyirc poem about late fall. Then the philosophical undercurrent surfaces! The final four lines are exhilarating. Those "northern birds" care little for barrenness or dormancy; they just want respite from an even worse scenario. "Configured" starts with a sense of strict order, and "Fractal jigsaw pieces" still hints at defined edges, which is also a fresh way to describe trees against cloud. "Breaking/fractal" work so well together! The personified trees that "hold" the landscape in the "outstretched .. arms" sound patient and enduring. "Dormant and barren" strips them of leaf and visible life. Yet they stand firm and bear up under the burden of late autumn. "This is what hope looks like" is a wonderful shift to the birds' viewpoint. "After the harvest" implies there is little left for human beings here, but for birds, more than sufficient. How ironic that this naked resting-place is a tourist spot in winter! Excellent writing, with so much said in such a condensed space. This "northern bird" has certainly enjoyed it! Stay Warm, Brenda
This Poem was Critiqued By: Sean Donaghy On Date: 2003-12-06 11:36:42
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 8.86111
Rick - This is quite the gem! I'm really glad I took to the critique list at this late date and found this. The imagery is clear and powerful. You make the reader feel the season. I'm zippering the mack all the way up and pulling on an extra pair of socks! Thanks for the read Sean
This Poem was Critiqued By: Sandra J Kelley On Date: 2003-12-04 17:34:42
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.06452
Rick, your wonderful discriptions paint a picture that is very complex. First grey ash and bare trees start to create a feeling of dispair then you say this is what hope looks like and that makes you think of potential and the fact that there is hope in all things. I love this poem. Sandra
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jordan Brendez Bandojo On Date: 2003-12-02 04:28:37
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.76471
Hi Rick, The number of lines in you poem equals to the number that is my favorite number, 10! SMILE! Am just excited to critique this highly incredible poem that says everything in just a few words 44 words in total! All these words are essential to flow the influx of ideas. And considering that the theme is significant, that is universally applicable, it brings an inevitable impulse to the readers. No wonder that it scores high in the winners' list. With minimized words, the imagery is vivid and very fascinating. I can picture out the nice visual of the bare trees breaking teh ash gray sky. The firs input "Configured as they are" makes a compelling opening that draws the reader further. "into fractal jigsaw pieces" is an exquisite description, your trademark. This proves that your language is high in quality. Ah, the metaphor of hope you are portraying. Very original in concept as you associate this to northern birds preparing to stay in winter amidst of scarcity of foods or whaterver. This is laconically written yet you managed to apply poetic devices like allits, assonance, metaphors, etc. that create a very nice visual the readers can see and they make the poem more enlivining. Nothing to suggest for improvement. I can a quotation to complete my critique, "This is small but terrible!" Thank you for sharing. The hope of this poem to be one of the top poems is great. Jordan
This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2003-11-21 23:26:36
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.52941
To my winter birds hope is found in the feeders still in place from last winter knowing though the trees are bare the food is still here.......silly me......nice structure poet, good word flow allowing for images to come and go and for those to remain forever ........I look forward to the winter birds for they bring beauty back to the yard.....the feeders are near the kitchen windows so I can see them all, the red cardinals which are so very pretty to watch as the female , darker in color or shades of brown, checks out the area first to make certain its safe for mer mate.....the yellow and blue birds that return to feed and the little chicadees......certainly do find them strong for such little for now there remains a few leaves on the trees and the big Pine trees never lose their glow but they certainly do have a way of filling the yard with pine cones.....which this reader picks and uses for crafts......enjoyed this very much as you can tell my friend for it brought forth memories of winters past and hopes of winters to come.....thanks for posting and sharing these thoughts with us. I hope where you are the winter birds are just as pretty as safe, God Bless, Claire
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2003-11-20 15:13:31
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.90909
Rick: I'm confounded, searching for words to respond to this piece. It strikes me where I live - in the solar plexus. Reading it is like being held in the "outstretched/Dormant and barren arms" of those bare trees. I love the double emphasis of "Bare trees" and "barren arms," and the assonant 'e' sounds in "pieces/trees." The first line telegraphs a kind of complete surrender and acceptance of *what is* as opposed, for example, to *what might have been* - this is the hope of the realist. The speaker encompasses the scene, observes its rather sterile offering, yet speaks to the sublimity and perfection of the fractal pattern made by the limbs of the tree in the "ash gray sky." It feels like an existential kind of landscape; however, there is a welcoming in it, too, for unsentimental readers who will observe that the "barren arms" are, indeed, arms. Northern birds are usually hardy species, accustomed to harsh conditions and cold. The birds make no complaint, but zero in on exactly what they'd hoped to find - a place to "stay the winter." There are no allusions to spring, flowers, abundance or any other pastoral scene. But the bleak "November scape" of what IS! It becomes less bleak for our identification with the northern birds, who allow what may be their fate - or is it the opposite of fate (title of Amy Tan's new book)? Perhaps we may choose only how we accept our 'fate' or circumstances. I'm reminded of something I read, (I know not where) about how, once we settle in, we may cease struggling with our limitations. Not in a masochistic way, but without pretense and with the simplicity of grace accepted. I am not trying to reduce the poem's theme to "making the best of limited circumstances" or any oversimplified observation of that nature. You have opened possibilities within this piece of looking at things straight on, and seeing *what is there* with an absolutely non-judging presence. This is a poem which makes me want to expand within the intricacies of the "fractal jigsaw pieces" of ash gray sky, to probe in a direction I hadn't thought of exploring. Once more, I am perplexed with the need to use words other than 'profound' to respond to a Rick Barnes poem. I can't find many. <smile> Quite honestly, the piece feels very personal to me, as if my own inner "November scape" - the one I dress up with romantic flora and fauna, welcomes me as I exist at this moment. This poem contains a different kind of feeling than I have encountered in your poetry thus far. I don't know if it my subjective response to the piece, a difference in your voice, or a combination of both. In any case, I am grateful. I feel like an aphid caught in a blast of wind. Not exactly comfortable, but wondering where *this* will take me. Bravo, Rick. No one writes (thinks) as you do. All my best, Joanne
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jane A Day On Date: 2003-11-20 14:05:08
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Dear Rick-- Ohhhhhh. So good. I love the dour and scientific tones here (configured, fractal, Dormant) and then contrasted with the fragile language of hope. I also enjoy the sense of time in this poem of after the harvest. And the alliteration is nicely done in hold the heavy. Great little touches everywhere. This is an image poets have thought on endlessly but still it is one I always love to return to. Thanks! Jane PS. You line This is what hope looks like, is so solid and emotive. I am not sure such a telling title is needed. Then that line really rings as a surprise.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Thomas Edward Wright On Date: 2003-11-19 22:38:43
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Well done, as usual Mr. Barnes. Do you need "fractal" and "jigsaw" ?? Whatever. Nice image. t.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Annette L Cowling On Date: 2003-11-17 16:09:35
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.00000
Rick - There is plenty of inspiration in nature as winter begins to take hold and you certainly found your inspiration with this poem. I love your descriptions and the title is excellent. Thanks for providing a truly great poem to read. Annette
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jennifer j Hill On Date: 2003-11-16 15:58:42
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.00000
Dear Rick, Wow Poet! What a great visual you give the reader with this concept of the trees breaking up the sky like a jigsaw puzzle. There are times when poetry thrills me to the core and this is one of those times. But I get ahead of myself in my enthusiasm. To begin with, This poem brings to mind november, in every way. First with the title, "Finding Hope", which conveys to this reader that in the bleak gray sky of late fall, there is the aroma of new hope in the november air. Many view it as a heralding of the coming birth of Christ. "Configured" is an apt description of the bare tree branches as they reach toward the sky. Your other decriptors (outstretched, dormant, barren)make this imagry even sharper. The idea of the branches holding up the sky conjures an image that is absolutely delightful... Makes me downright giddy just thinking about it. Your words like breaking, gray, and barren give a bleakness that contrasts with the idea of finding hope from the title. You masterfully employ assonance throughout this piece too many times to mention each separately. Your ending sentence, after this lovely idea of outstretched arms just heaves this poet right off the cliff and airborne to fly with the hopeful birds. Well, Rick you just made this afternoon worth while. I am home sick while my husband is using what will probably be the last oppertunity (65 degree day) to sail this year. So thank you much. Blessings, Jennifer
This Poem was Critiqued By: Mell W. Morris On Date: 2003-11-16 14:11:13
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Rick: I just answered your critique with the words that I hoped to see one of your poems soon and voila! Your title is irresistible for who is not searching for hope? I really like the metaphor of leaf-stripped tree as hope for birds who will not seek southern climes for the winter. As always, you say a great deal with an economy of words. "Configured as they are, Breaking the ash gray sky Into fractal jigsaw pieces, Bare trees hold that heavy November scape in their outstretched Dormant and barren arms." What a great opening line: "Configured as they are" and then the personification of tree breaking the sky into jigsaw pieces. "Ash gray" is a fine descriptor and November's scape defined as "heavy" is exquisite. Your word "outstretched" stretches out of the do you do these wonderfully creative things? Your linguistics also shines with "dormant and barren". "This what hope looks like, ...nice allits... After the harvest, To northern birds Preparing to stay the winter." You have employed some wondrous devices to enhance the harmony of your poem: seven hard K sounds make me want to dance (not easy with my discs), internal rhymes of gray/stay and so many instances of assonance, I cannot list all. Bare/barren/preparing has the nice repetitive "barren" and your last three lines include the assonance of aftER/northERn/bIRds/wintER. A true symphony for this "sound" person's ears. Your poem also has the message for me that if birds can find hope in bare trees, we ought to be able to find hope in myriad places as we abound in nature's beauty. Ah, the glory of your writing in that many diverse interpretations may be made and it gives a plethora of riches, no matter the import. It also says to me that there is value in staying with your "roots" as the northern birds remain in their homeland in lieu of migrating. They are not flock followers but independent in behavior. I am tiring but I could go on and on as your nature poems are packed with imagery and meaning rarely found. This is a gem, Rick, and I speak the truth. Kudos and I hope it does well in the contest although I know you don't care about same. (It will be on my list.) Best, Mell-o
This Poem was Critiqued By: Wanda S. Thibodeaux On Date: 2003-11-16 10:39:10
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Dear Rick, Such a fitting piece for the season. I can relate well to the image of stark limbs outstretched and upward. How this scene could denote hope is obvious to me as well as the northern bird. Sometimes women have their colors done and once when this was a fad, I learned I was winter. I knew that already about myself but loved having it confirmed. This poem reminded me so much of a winter in North Carolina. The news had announced a big ice storm on the way, everyone was stressing over the roads, etc. I had never seen a real ice storm. It came. We had a lot of trees around our house, standing naked- and as you are pointing out here, presenting themselves, completely vulnerable to the elements with arms widespread. When I walked out on my deck the next morning, I didn't even breath for several moments, I was totally awestruck at the beauty. My trees stood, clothed in ice, they were diamond trees, shimmering in the sun. That picture was fixed in my soul for a lifetime. There was ice from every tip to the ground, I have my pictures still of that day. I have to explain that miracles mean different things to different people. To me, I could only class that vision as a miracle. Not twenty minutes after I took the pictures, I slid off the deck, nearly breaking my neck, while teasing my lab, Cheyenne, with a sausage biscuit. Guess I deserved it. Anyway, I haven't been able to participate on the site due to a ruptured disk in my neck and even worse, rotator cuff problems. I'm trying to avoid surgery with therapy and rest. Your poem was uplifting to me. Right now, I need hope myself. Thanks for the memory. You have such a talent for words and getting to the heart of the matter. Some people take all day to make a point, like me...ha! Take good care and never stop writing. Wanda
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