This Poem was Submitted By: Mell W. Morris On Date: 2005-03-09 16:49:32 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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Remaining Superior

The hills of Minnesota are everywhere I go from austere badlands to the roll of green interior. There when the sun sets, a play of light and shadow steals my breath. One night leaving Duluth toward north then east along Lake Superior with the idea of driving to Thunder Bay, I entered a fog bank unlike anything I'd ever witnessed. It was the crepuscular time of day, bats on the wing, one fog light far away and it was as if no one else lived here but me. I thought of running off the road to the deep Superior where I would eterne with an old wrecked ship and mermaids for companions. The legend lives on from the Chippewa down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee. The lake it is said never gives up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy.

Copyright © March 2005 Mell W. Morris

Additional Notes:
Last stanza from "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot

This Poem was Critiqued By: Tony P Spicuglia On Date: 2005-04-01 22:33:03
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.79310
Mell, finally I get a critique done of one of yours and find that your poem hasn’t been spirited to the (to coin an analogy) bottom of the critiquing list!! Of course the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald is well known, but I wonder how many know more than the cursory history on that epic ship/journey. Your concentration on the “properties” of Lake Superior in inclement times grants great value to the entire event. Remaining Superior – You begin with an excellent dualism in you choice of title. Lake Superior, remaining superior, excellent beginning, just getting warmed up for the ride!! The hills of Minnesota are everywhere I go from austere badlands to the roll of green interior. There when the sun sets, a play of light and shadow steals my breath. – Mell, (you couldn’t know this, but if I win the Lottery, Minnesota is where I want to settle, so you have picked my playground). You description is so apt, the green interior left by the glaciers, and “mountains” (not mountains like the western ranges) but highlands shoved up by the last ice age. I can imagine, particularly if Lake Superior was catching the retreating sun from over my shoulder, I would be breathless as well. One night leaving Duluth toward north then east along Lake Superior with the idea of driving to Thunder Bay, I entered a fog bank unlike anything I'd ever witnessed. – Ah the fog bank, I can say only San Francisco and the Great Lakes compare. Superior, not as often as Lake Michigan (because Lake Michigan’s Temperature sea/air more often support it), but the fog is just as you describe it. I was reading your stanza, and kind of dreamed of the drive, on a nice day, and am sure it would captivate my soul. It was the crepuscular time of day, bats on the wing, one fog light far away and it was as if no one else lived here but me. – first off, had to research “crepuscular”, a great word. And you begin, you are on a roll, bats ( I dislike bats, one of the few animals I have little fondness for), on wing, and you are setting the scene, I know I am in the car with you, and the tension is exquisite. I thought of running off the road to the deep Superior where I would eterne with an old wrecked ship and mermaids for companions. – Even the thought, even though we have found her, and seen her, I still think of the crew, and down there, somewhere, they lie. On a lighter edge, I recall in “Ghostbusters” when the Titanic returned, and all the ghosts, of those gone so long, came home. You provide such a feel to the homecoming, or, if you will, the re-acquaintance. The legend lives on from the Chippewa down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee. – The “Big Water” and she is much feistier than the ocean, for to be land locked grants many more variables than an ocean normally sees. There is sweetness to such a tale, sweetness that nature herself has something in store beyond the wiles of all, including mankind. You have me thinking of what that might be. The lake it is said never gives up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy. – Gloomy/Gumee, what a great rhyme!! It holds a foreboding, just because it is. “Never gives up her dead” and that is so true. Like the North Atlantic, the water temperature preserves and compresses so the lost sink, and are often not found. The North Atlantic and Lake Superior have much in common. Mell, this a fine tale that captures many aspects of the Lake and the people who are associated with it. The “Big Water”, is just that, but the tales, compare. I am glad I got to read this piece. I made my night.

This Poem was Critiqued By: Rick Barnes On Date: 2005-04-01 08:56:32
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Mell, I had no idea. Everytime I turn around you are somewhere else. Mell the writer refuses to be type cast, characterized or led into someone elses next chapter. I don't know of any other writer who can surprise quite the way you do. I can read three lines and know it is an Uppendahl, a Tate, or a Spinoza, but I'll be damned if I'm not surprised with where Morris takes me each and every adventure she takes me on. The whole idea of you and north never crossed my mind. I know so little about you. How can this be? How can feel so deeply about someone and have nothing but fragments as evidence? I need more of your writng. I want stories. Please Mell, send me your stories. You so completely capture the intrigue and secret desire to be engulfed in that unconquerable mystery that is our own finality. Death as a seductress inviting us into the twilight, wrapping us in fog with but one distant fog light inviting us into the deep Superior. (Brilliant use of the word.) Did you live in Minnesota at one time? You will have to explain Texas to me. I just don't get Texas. Minnesota I understand. Even New Jersey. But Texas? Oh well, thanks for inviting mne into Mell's world with such beatifully complex piece. Rick
This Poem was Critiqued By: Dellena Rovito On Date: 2005-03-28 19:54:22
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.44444
Mell, You are Superior! There's nothing so scary then to be in the fog. On a highway it's frightful for fear of another car. On the water it's fear of hitting a boat or hitting shore. I've experienced both and I don't like it! Even total blackness is wicked. Even foggy in the head is tough.. I liked the gitchee gumee. I remember the words well. So glad you didn't end up in the 'drink'. I like light and shadows steal my breath. [as you do mine] I like 'crepuscular' too.... More Mell, I say more! you are the best! dellena
This Poem was Critiqued By: Thomas Edward Wright On Date: 2005-03-20 11:01:11
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Mell- At least you are in a good State of Mind. Blah-té is Paté The queen is a bee. And such. Sundae. With a cherry. t.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Troy D Skroch On Date: 2005-03-14 20:09:26
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Mell, I thought I read somewhere that you are from Texas? Northern Minnesota is wilder than a Texas rattle snake race. LOL Ok, ok, I'm the only one laughing at my bad humor. I've driven to Thunder Bay many times. I especially like to make the drive at about 2am in the morning when the moose are hunting cars, camouflaged in fog. It is actually considered a dangerous road to travel at night and is one of the loneliest night drives I've been on. After you leave Silver Bay it seems like there is nothing at night. During the day is another story. There are 6-7 state parks along that route as well as the Superior Hiking Trail. When you get close to Canada if you look way out into Superior you can see Isle Royal. Plus there are a ton of rivers and waterfalls you can pull over to view. Gooseberry Falls is amazing. I'm planning to take the family up the North Shore this fall when the leaves start turning. Now to your poem. First off I like the title. A great play on words with a meaning that nobody is going to argue with you about. I think that Lake Superior will always be “superior”. I just love to walk the polished stone beaches in any weather. The whole wild, cold, rocky coast along that drive makes me feel small and threatens to consume me unless I stand up to it’s strength. A very poetic place indeed. In the first stanza you write about the sun setting and “a play of light and shadow steals my breath”. Are you seeing the sun setting in color over a hilly terrain, valleys cut with shadow, or are you seeing the sun setting over lakes and forests where parts are encased in shadow and other parts are still streaked with sun.? And into the night you go, which I touched on already. But we haven’t talked about the Gordon Lightfoot song. Isn’t that a haunting song. Being that I’m from Wisconsin I’m very familiar with the ballad, but it always gives me goose bumps when the cook tells everyone that it’s been “good to know ya”. Brr. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a storm on Superior, it’s amazing! The waves hit the rock walls on the North side hard enough to send spray up more than a hundred feet. Mell, thanks for getting me excited for the colors this fall, and giving me the goose bumps. Did you know that if you fell out of a boat into Superior that you would die of hypothermia before you could swim 100 yards? Of course that is, if you were an Olympic swimmer. If you weren’t an Olympic swimmer you would drowned before you reached 20 yards. Brr. Thanks again Mell, Troy
This Poem was Critiqued By: marilyn terwilleger On Date: 2005-03-14 15:17:39
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.88889
Hi Mell, Reading this piece for the first time I thought what lovely words and amazing decriptors you have used to limn this story but a second and third read gave me an entirely different aspect. Remaining Superior... Lake Superior will remain the same for eons to come..but can we remain superior..can we conquer our problems...rise above them and remain in charge? That would be our quest in be stronger than the demons that assualt us as we travel life's precarious path. In the second stanza you tell us your intention is to drive to Thunder Bay but you encounter a dense fog bank..the worst you have ever witnessed. It was the crepuscular (love this word) time of day..there were bats on the wing and only one fog light and you felt alone, deserted. A person not fighting for their very existance, would never entertain the notion of running off the road head long into the lake. However, to someone who is weary of the internal struggle to stay afloat it would seem like an easy way out...after all how bad could it be you would see old wrecked ships and mermainds and would not be alone. Just in time you remember the old legend from the Chippewa about 'the shores of Gitche Gume' and how the lake never gives up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy. Somehow this last stanza gives this reader hope that all is not lost for the poet, she must remember that death is final and must be deterred at all costs. Your writing skills, which are exemplary, are evident in this piece. Even if I have read more into it than you intended I want you to know having you for a mentor is the greatest honor I could have achieved on TPL. Now, when I write, I can hear you in my head telling me when I make an error...I often say to myself 'you better fix that..remember what Mell told you!' So needless to say I miss you and selfishly want my old Mell back because I have not yet been honed to perfection! This piece is wonderful, original, and to me has an inner meaning that I cannot ignore. I e-mailed you today so I hope I hear from you soon. Your friend and willing student....Marilyn
This Poem was Critiqued By: Turner Lee Williams On Date: 2005-03-12 11:29:21
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.46154
Mell–The initial descriptive/picturesque images of stanza #1 are in direct contrast to eerie sojourn induced by fog on this road trip (stanza #2). This atmosphere produces a depressive mood which in-turn create some trepidation (enjambment of stanzas #3/4); “I thought of running off the road to the deep Superior where I would eterne with an old wrecked ship and mermaids for companions.” The title/theme of the entire piece (IMO) is summed up by stanza #5 as a possible metaphor for maintaining/sustaining status quo/ego despite obstacles or somber events: reader gleans a subtle analogy from title, the last stanza and its sparse rimes (Gumee/gloomy; said/dead); “The legend lives on from the Chippewa down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee. The lake it is said never gives up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy.” Sorry if my review is off, but it is what I feel. TLW
This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2005-03-10 00:38:28
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Good morning poet........thank you for sharing this with the visuals you project with the flare of your pen, the bringing one into the piece itself,......the roll of green interior..... nicely put poet, makes for a very easy picture of this setting.... Nothing more breathless then a beautiful sunset......bright orange circle in the evening sky, a touch of pink and blues as it fades into the those drive homes after a long day of work in the summer when such happenings do take place........ even the gof you encountered reaches out and grabs......reminding me of many a night here in Tully when the fog settles in and the frogs jump across the road by the hundreds......not a story my friend, the truth...... I envy your heritage as well and how it is always there for the sharing...... Good structure, word flow, images as created by the flare of your pen.........hubby has told me many tales about the big lake you speak of......Gitche Gumee.....whether real or not always interesting to listen to......thank you for posting and allowing this reader to stop by and read.......take good care, God Bless, Claire
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne Duval Morgan On Date: 2005-03-09 19:21:51
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Yes, I caught that essence in the last stanza, but Mell honestly singuarly I've see all the oddities, however never having been to Gitchee Goome (Lake Superior), I can visualize from your great descriptive, the environment, even the nuances of history you speak of. Interesting poem, with a cadence that is great, and an unbelieveable story line. Only you Mell if I may use the language of the day, are right on with this poem, and once again your usage of the English language isn't equaled by anyone else here. I find the poem to be outstanding and written by a true artist. We'll never return to the use of proper wenglish, however poets such as yourself send constant reminders of what sentence structure and linguistics consist of, I really enjoy that show alone. It is a mood setting oem loaded with great sensation. Congratulations another masterpiece....Love Jo Mo
This Poem was Critiqued By: Nancy Ann Hemsworth On Date: 2005-03-09 18:43:37
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.75000
very visual write, and full of atmosphere. I could picture " the roll of green interior." very originally put! also "sun sets, a play of light and shadow steals my breath." great use of alliteration in the soft "s" sounds.,and the reader does inhale on the reading of this line... and then the atmosphere of your piece thickens like the fog you encountered, and I love the trip into your imagination down to the depths"where I would eterne with an old wrecked ship and mermaids for companions." wonderful image! and I really think the verse from "The Wresk of the Edmund Fitzgerald" was a wonderful way to finish this poem, gave it another depth of atmosphere and a familiarity to many who will read this. enjoyed your poem and the view that came with it, very much indeed.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2005-03-09 17:43:41
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Dear Mell-O: This has the effect of dirge-like chant which begins echoing in my mind. I hear it playing soulfully. A sense of the tragic pervades this piece, and the feel is gloomy, like chill, piercing fog. I hadn't realized until reading this how much I had internalized Gordon Lightfoot's song, at least the melody. The Native American drumbeat of the final stanza, the Chippewa, Gitche Gumee and the "lake it is said never gives up her dead" sound like the poet's own heritage reflected in poetic and musical form in response to circumstances which seem to pull one down in an undertow. And yet, along with its mournful quality I found much of great personal appeal in this work. It seems that the "hills of Minnesota" are pervasive. Much as in grief, when everywhere one looks are reminders of effects of the missing loved one, the poem reminds me that in the midst of powerful sorrow is also great beauty. The "play of light and shadow" which steals the poet's breath also steals mine. I love the rolling r's of "roll of green interior" -- I am going out on a limb here and pretending that the poet may be referring to something 'green' on the inside, that is, new and relatively untried. The "badlands" are part and parcel of the scenery. The good and bad, give and take of life. But the contrasting "play of light and shadow" suggests that something which may have been experienced as play by others has knocked the wind out of the speaker, stolen her breath. There's a lot of mystery suggested here. I may be reading more into it than you intended, but likely am seeing a great deal less. You remind me that so much more is always going on within poems, within their authors, within readers than can ever be encompassed in a few words or lines. At best we can connect with the images suggested, with the sounds and the beat. And our hearts beat in response to events and emotions of others of whom we know little but sense much. A powerful "sixth sense" is strongly suggested here. One night leaving Duluth toward north then east along Lake Superior with the idea of driving to Thunder Bay, I entered a fog bank unlike anything I'd ever witnessed. I really like the texture of the effortful sounds of 'th' ending "Duluth/north" and "Thunder." What is the fog bank which is "unlike anything I've ever witnessed" to the writer? What magic, light or dark, takes place in the fog? It's the realm of magicians, mystics and fairies. Writer, you've got me inside this fog bank, and I can't figure out which way is "north" or "east." How to get back out? It was the crepuscular time of day, bats on the wing, one fog light far away and it was as if no one else lived here but me. I thought of running off the road to the deep As if I weren't already frightened, the poet tells me that it is the "crepuscular time of day" which suggests crepe-hanging (death), pus (infection), and twilight (or the beginning of the end of light). The loneliness in these lines is affecting. Nothing of hope or cheer lives here, and the thought of "running off the road to the deep" seems like an attractive possibility. "Superior where I would eterne with an old wrecked ship and mermaids for companions" I think it is magnificently original, the way you have used "eterne" as a verb. The water down here is murky, the ship is wrecked, and the mermaids seem not to see me (either). The writer feels something to the depth of her being and as if "no one else lived here but me." The poem gives me the feeling similar to a state I get in which I can only describe as "the dreadfuls" -- as in a time of feeling hopelessness, isolation and dread. The title suggests that "Remaining Superior" is like a kind of living death. One can be right or be happy but not both. How do we get out of the lake, walk among the living once more? I'm sawing off the limb now, by guessing NOT 'remaining superior.' Mell-O, forgive me for floundering around like this (smile) but I am taking chances reading into this what you may not have intended to be there. In wee, small print, if I had it, I'd write (if I could) that maybe you (the poetess) have written a lamentation for the 'shipwreck' of recent note and the deafening silence that follows such happenings. In even tinier font, I'd write 'i'm sorry, friend' ... Humbly your LL Em., Joanne
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