This Poem was Submitted By: Mell W. Morris On Date: 2004-10-11 17:34:21 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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If You Could Live Your Life Backward

                  Blackbirds flew across the sun this morning.                   Was it an omen of mourning to come? If you had known it would turn Out like this, would you have Risen when he leaned in and Asked, 'Care to dance?' Would you have agreed to the Fourth of July parade where he Was pure patriot and you dripped Perspiration on the general? Pledge your allegiance, one God, Invisible. Sunset at 9:00pm, You risible, sweat drying cool; Fireworks viewed, inside you, too. Then, irritating habits, scattering Papers, tossing out Sunday cross- Words, his careless ways with your Emotions. If you'd heard and caught On before, would you still have Gone to the store and bought The lavender dress?

Copyright © October 2004 Mell W. Morris

This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2004-11-06 21:26:33
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Mell: This is a bit of a departure for you, I think. There's still the internal rhyme, although less than in some of your other works; there's still the acute eye that observes, reflects and translates what it sees. Anyway, I love the poem; it reminds me of "The Road Not Taken" in reverse, leading from effect back through a series of contributing events instead of the other way around. These are not "possibilities"; they have happened, and now the speaker is using hindsight by way of commenting on them. The road doesn't stretch ahead; we sense the unhappy destination, then trace the route backwards as the title implies. You start in media res, right in the center of the dance request, and then unravel the threads leading back in time to the purple dress. These two stanzas are linked, beginning and ending, which unifies the poem. Would you have agreed to the Fourth of July parade where he Was pure patriot and you dripped Perspiration on the general? What a comical image this conjures up! She seems, well, klutzy and he seems much more collected and controlled. But the perspiration implies anxiety, and a growing excitement. So far, so good. Pledge your allegiance, one God, Invisible. Sunset at 9:00pm, You risible, sweat drying cool; Fireworks viewed, inside you, too. Here, the use of "invisible" is an ironic sidenote - a nose-thumbing at fate, I think - and the internal rhyme of "risible" again suggests a certain clumsiness. The fireworks consitute a crisis in the relationship, the moment at which something irrevocable is about to transpire. Then there's an abrupt shift to the "Then ..." in the next stanza, when the glow is gone and the eager young woman has turned into a weary spouse [of course, they need not be married but it is easier to assume so, for the purposes of critique], whose indifferent husband seems to consider her as expendable as the papers. The tossed-out "cross-words" are capable of a dual meaning. Then, irritating habits, scattering Papers, tossing out Sunday cross- Words, his careless ways with your Emotions. If you'd heard and caught ... interesting word to use as a line break! It implies being trapped, as well as the missed insight she could have used early on. On before, would you still have Gone to the store and bought The lavender dress? The ending on a question works well here, because we have to figure out the answer. Do we sometimes, stubbornly, insist on our mistakes? Do we ever admit that we might have chosen differently - and better? If the woman accepts what her marriage has become, perhaps she'd not really consider herself as having taken a misstep. The "lavender dress" brings back a portrait of freshness and innocence. It's a soft color, as the girl who wore it must have been soft and vulnerable. Perhaps, in a way, she still is. I'd personally like to know the speaker's own identity, to understand why this person is questioning the woman in the poem. Are they sisters, perhaps? Mother and duaghter? Or - possibly - two aspects of the same self? Then again, the touch of mystery doesn't hurt. I can imagine more possibilities by not being specifically directed to one answer. This is a fine piece and I hope it will receive its due recognition. Each month you reveal another facet, a new indicator of your scope and versatility. All the Best, Brenda PS - Thanks so much for your words of encouragement on the forum; they mean a great deal to me.

This Poem was Critiqued By: Jennifer j Hill On Date: 2004-11-06 16:52:52
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.79167
Well Mell, you ask several questions here. Some very good ones indeed. This is a charmer and one of my favorite this month. Between this one and "Congress This Morning" one might not have to wonder about your ponderings this month. Or is it coincidence? Don't know, but at any rate this piece holds fast to your rule of making title count. This title feeds right into or is it off of the poem. And as if the title wasn't enough to pull me in, theres that question to start with: "Blackbirds flew across the sun this morning. Was it an omen of mourning to come?" Wild geese couldn't drag me away after that. And then the questions continue. Oh, I just love the way you just throw it out there with the first stanza. How could anyone not stop and ponder their own life choices after that opening? The second stanza has me just laughing so hard as I picture the narrator in the heat of a Texas 4th of July. What a funny image in my mind of the narrator no doubt dressed as part of the parade in costume that smothers and melts her. And after the parade the fireworkds displays that ensues. Both visual images and feelings of physical love ensue and fireworks on both accounts! In so few words you take the reader through alot here. Then s-4 brings us back down to earth. And I sometimes ask myself the same question and I hope the answer will always be the same resounding yes. You made me smile and laugh with this one. Your sense of humor does shine here. This is so full of nostalgia and I love it! Thanks for writing and sharingthis. Blessings, Jennifer
This Poem was Critiqued By: Thomas Edward Wright On Date: 2004-10-25 12:08:27
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Out standing in your field Yes, yes, yes.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Dellena Rovito On Date: 2004-10-22 18:45:17
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.25714
Mell, Of course you would have bought the lavender dress and probably some wonderful perfume too. You could never have changed that destiny. Even when men take women for granted, let anything happen to you, he would be devastated. Men just don't realize whats under their noses. What you must do is be happy yourself/no matter.' That will get his attention. The poem got me thinking and involved and entertained. Who could want more from poem? Thanks for the treat. Always Dellena
This Poem was Critiqued By: Gerard A Geiger On Date: 2004-10-18 11:20:16
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Dear Mell; A wonderful, masterful piece of work sketching a love and life lived in bits and pieces of poignant moments remembered as one remembers salt and pepper sprinkled on buttered corn. We cannot separate all the parts: bitter,salty,juicy cornflesh, sweet warm butter, on a warm summer evening, from the total whole of a full life with connecting moments, which by their excluded and forgotten nature...lead us to believe their uneventful dailyness was the meat of a full life shared among soulmates... I feel your sadness that the one you love is passing...YES..YES... you must confess...Of course you'd wear that Lavender Dress!! I believe we need "Some enchanted evening for background music"... I love this understated descriptive is a treasure. Nothing I can say can improve this work. Gerard
This Poem was Critiqued By: Tony P Spicuglia On Date: 2004-10-17 18:36:13
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Mell, this is brilliant, I do wish I knew more about the object of the inquery. I feel this piece was written as a eulogy, and means precisely what it says, and says so poignantly, however I also made a decision for me, with this piece. After the third reading, each time touching me more deeply, I chose to absorb the piece as a collection of analogies, in a large metaphor for myself and others. It worked well, but I missed the woman, till I again revisited her. Of course there is the mourning, I assume it is pure, and not that of divorce, which has it's own, tainted sorrow. The mourning for that lost, as everything is destined to be lost, eventually, in living, and dying. I let "ask you to dance", take me to decisions, many small decisions that were predicated on simple choices. She had one, and we all have one, and eventually, there must be a reckoning of some sort, whether it is the quality of life, or a specific result. Stanza two and three were a difficult transition for me. The pledge of loyalty, honor, to those you agree with and those you don't, but to a higher power in thier stead, and a higher "nationalis" regardless. The second to last stanza, before the dissolution, is the quality of life segment, did living meet the quality as advertised. I spent, personally a long time on this stanza, those answers are mine I believe. You ended, and I had some answers, and some not, but the "lavender dress" brought me back to the woman and the man, and whatever thier answers were, I was glad to have spent this moment with them. Thank you Mell, thank you very much.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Latorial D. Faison On Date: 2004-10-13 09:34:20
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.33333
Mell, this poem is the BOMB! Do you know how many women ask themselves this question (smile). What ever inspired you to write it? I'm curious. I love the style and format, the beginning two lines are powerful and tone setting, and then you move into the real scenarios. I think that you have given readers, male and female, issues with which they too can identify. You have provoked the thoughts of millions of people. How fitting to coin this question in a poem! I have thought this to myself, and while there are many things that I would change in my life, my husband is not one of them. I guess I'm fortunate. But I like to think that experience is our best teacher, and this poem is so wrapped up in that common idea. It teaches when it doesn't aim to, and I think that's wonderful. You pose a grand question that could keep all the world on Oprah just talking for hours or groups of guys and girls hanging out to share some fun and laughter. Thanks for sharing such a provocative, mind piercing piece this month. I enjoyed reading it, and I think that you have placed some interesting thoughts to minds of all readers here. Great job. Latorial
This Poem was Critiqued By: charles r pitts On Date: 2004-10-12 11:33:38
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 7.00000
Very thought-provoking, and humorous. This poem seems like things you would think to yourself in a moment of despair, but very accurately put on paper. It's the little things that drive you crazy and make you wonder such things. As a crossword fanatic, I can identify. "careless ways with your Emotions" speaks volumes in just five words. In those reflective moments where you question your lot in life, these are exactly the questions you would ask yourself. "Fireworks viewed, inside you, too." My favorite line-very clever and poignant. An example of true poetry: revealing the uniqueness of a commonality.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2004-10-11 18:28:05
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Mell-O: Ah, this poem asks the unanswerable question. You bring memories to the page, so vividly it made me blink in wonder -- had I been there, too? And if so, would I have made a motion to alert you: "he's not the one." Or, "he's the one, but beware, as he will scatter your heart with the crosswords." We never have this option, but for a moment, poet, you ask us, WOULD we, if we could? I was in your poem, experiencing the scenes as you painted them, living in the heroine's awarenss, but simultaneously, re-living my own 'point-of-no-return' again. My answer: yes, I would, I would. Your title simply sent me on a journey before I even 'opened' the poem to read. I was already reeling backward fast. The notion of doing so has caught hold of me, as has your poem. "Blackbirds flew across the sun this morning. Was it an omen of mourning to come?" Your epigram warns that mourning is presaged by beauty. That "morning" is already "mourning" but without the 'you' in it, for substance. We inhabit our lives, like garments, like the lavender dress. How could we do other? The blackbirds have the ability to see things from afar. They are excellent symbols for our opportunity to take the 'long view' and seeing what we see, decide if we had the option, not live as we lived. If you had known it would turn Out like this, would you have Risen when he leaned in and Asked, 'Care to dance?' I love this! How deftly you bring the reader into the moment. It's easy to imagine I hear his voice. It automatically gives me goosebumps, as it evokes another voice, asking me a similarly innocent-seeming question, one that changed the course of my life forever. I can imagine that his hair was shining, as were his eyes. What did he see as he "leaned in" to ask the question? Would you have agreed to the Fourth of July parade where he Was pure patriot and you dripped Perspiration on the general? Laughing/tearing up. It's funny and dear. The sense is that the speaker (you) felt a bit out of control, and the perspiration, with combined plosiveness of "pure patriot" and "parade", may symbolic, of a fit that wasn't exact, even then. But the richness of it, the earthiness, the losing of one's separate self to union with not to be missed, I feel you are showing us. Pledge your allegiance, one God, Invisible. Sunset at 9:00pm, You risible, sweat drying cool; Fireworks viewed, inside you, too. What fireworks in your wordplay here. You recreate the excitement of those moments, incredibly evocatively. "Pledge your allegiance" (plight my troth) "one God" (one man) "Invisible" (where is the 'real' man/God?) and note that you didn't write the expected "indivisible" -- the surprises and intrigues of this poem are part of its richness, like the scent of lavender, like the fireworks, like the "Invitation to the Dance" (Weber) and the 'Care to dance?' The invitation to the dance of life, the dance of two lovers, the dance of changing forever from what one once was to what one has become, is becoming. The last line above "Fireworks veiwed, inside you, too" evokes incredible sensuousness along with the remembered elation of the first pangs of first love. Nothing like it, not even close. You bring it to life here on the page, in this poem. I think you must have been there when my fiancé-to-be and I walked along the shore of Lake Tanwax, that April night. You knew, even then, that I'd say, "Yes." Then, irritating habits, scattering Papers, tossing out Sunday cross- Words, his careless ways with your Emotions. If you'd heard and caught Oh, what incredible wordplay. "cross-Words" -- cross words! The double-up letters, of 'rr/tt/ss/ss/ss" are almost doubled-over in anguish and disappointment. What a letdown it is to be loved, but then to be misunderstood, tossed and scattered by the winds of "his careless ways." Oh, the space between my shoulderblades aches incredibly. I think I am somehow overidentifying with this young woman. Or am I remembering? Was it I who was careless with words, who didn't read his emotions as he'd hoped? Or maybe it was an excess of emotions, things he'd not really liked to delve into, truthfully. Men sometimes are frightened by them as they see themselves reflected as vulnerable by their mates, I think. On before, would you still have Gone to the store and bought The lavender dress? It's funny. I have to tell you. This is your poem. But in a eerie sort of way that I don't understand, you've described a dress right out of my own closet. It was a lavender dress that I bought because it was 'exactly right' as a going-away dress for the new bride-to-be. I wore it with a white coat and gloves, gold pin. I can't begin to express the many emotions this poem stirs for me, the poignant regret for so many things, the remembered joy of the best parts of my own first/last/only love. You have a way with your poems of creating another plane of existence which is beyond time and place and very intimate in the gentlest possible way. Your ability to evoke emotions with your poetry is excelled by none. Once more, I am awed by your poetic gift. The circumstances are different, but I have a feeling that all love is painful. Knowing what we knew then, we'd of course make the same choices. But knowing what we now know, and moving back in time with prescient knowledge, would we turn and go another way? Or would we enter into the experience thinking to change the outcome, step-by-step, like a recipe that we decide to change, substituting applesauce for cream. I don't know what I would do if I had that magic. If I had magic at all, what I'd want would be to spare myself suffering, if we're looking at my own life. But knowing myself, I'd do it all over again. How impossible it seems to imagine 'roads not taken' and loves and losses not accepted as part of one's destiny. Maybe it hurts (a lot) but it is my hurt, I think the speaker may be showing us. It is your hurt, dear reader. It is your love and you would still buy the lavender dress. And yes, I would. How cleverly you show us that love is, after all, worth it. At least that's what you've shown me in this poem. It is funny and sad and wonderful, like you. Brava! This one rates a still pond, with floating lotus blossoms. Frogs optional. (If you want them, I will send for them!) Awed once more, LL Emeritus
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