This Poem was Submitted By: Thomas Edward Wright On Date: 2006-01-11 20:35:01 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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A Woman Combing

Also, After Stevens For My Wife, and Daughter Each nerve ends in a cul-de-sac About which are built great mansions, In which live the affluent, residua Of the millennial accumulations. Her day licks its bowl dry. In the light of the last spark, Almost, but not yet, dark, Shy hands ask a lock: Why? Alabaster fish test the net’s strength. A nail parts a wave from its sea. The hiss of hair and the sea waves. Piously she pulls in the catch. Leaves rustle in the trees, Breeze-pestered into motion. They dance in seriatim sanctum. Wrist, elbow, shoulder: thrum. A twelve-string guitar strummed. As if the grapes hung in bunches From great vines from the great earth So tense with nectar, verse – Small hours, two hands, comb-song and A slow boat on the quiet lake at dusk, Bass lurking beneath the black water, These dark locks falling in curls, And the soft song of the comb; The wind through the rushes; The sirens beckoning to her As the ruddered sun melts. This could be God, or an angel Clinging to His robe, or a knife In the heart of her old lover Watching from his black moon. And yet, this is not that. One Downs' girl in mahogany curls  Sits upon her mother's laughing knee Selling not a word of her life sentence.

Copyright © January 2006 Thomas Edward Wright

This Poem was Critiqued By: Thomas H. Smihula On Date: 2006-02-07 07:54:19
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.60526
This was harder for me to get into maybe because of the depth. There were parts of this that really caught my eye especially your second and fourth verse. I also enjoyed the fifth and six verse but was caught off guard by the lake when I expected the sea. Just a thought. Thanks for sharing.

This Poem was Critiqued By: Gerard Andrew Geiger On Date: 2006-02-04 15:19:43
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.54545
Dear TEW; A beautiful work..Lovingly describing the interaction of mother and daughter combing hair. Very fluid descriptions remarkable in its subtle touch and it alludes to the natural flow of water and life itself.... A Very moving and touching poem... Love it... Wonderful, as is;I do not have the skill to add to this work. Always your friend, Gerard
This Poem was Critiqued By: Mark Andrew Hislop On Date: 2006-01-22 22:32:40
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
TEW I notice you posted this on Critical Poet. Couldn't bring myself to critique d'Casco there without feeling like I was being unfaithful to TEW here. Think of it as my lame and probably too-late-in-the-day attempt to keep you here. And not there. So, here goes. It seems obvious that this is a very personal poem. Rather than the dedication, it is the "one Downs' girl" that makes this evident for me, and almost makes me want to pull my punches. Please forgive me if I don't. In general, this is hampered by a combination of things. This stanza is a good example of what I mean: Alabaster fish test the net’s strength. A nail parts a wave from its sea. The hiss of hair and the sea waves. Piously she pulls in the catch. It's as if it is a painting, a mosaic constructed by numbers, where the cut off point between shades is too evident. I'm not sure that there is evidence from within the Down world of perception that their experience of the world is so fractured. All the lines of this stanza, and the bulk of the lines of the poem, are end-stopped: rather than convey a world of brief impressions and short attentions spans, which might be useful and potentially illustrative of a world seen through Down syndrome eyes if restricted to one or two stanzas, they seem overused throughout, and it makes for a jerky read. The other part of the combination is imagery. So much of it is, taken by itself, strong and clear, but the images seem too often to stand for their own sake rather than being integral, or integrated, into the poem as a "whole image". For instance, "Alabaster fish test the net’s strength./A nail parts a wave from its sea./The hiss of hair and the sea waves./Piously she pulls in the catch." Apart from the sudden, jarring move to a watery setting, an image like "alabaster fish," while strong in its own right, seems not to carry the poem forward. In a similar vein, the juxtaposition of "And the soft song of the comb;/The wind through the rushes" depends on the reader to resort to parallelism to complete the simile. This is not necessarily in itself a poor device, but it does seem somehow lacking in freshness. Or something like "As ruddered sun melts" ... sun melting is a tactile and immediately accessible image, but trying to discern how it could be ruddered is an excercise in futility, unless (as one has no option but to do it one is to make sense of it) one says "riiiight, sustaining the nautical theme" ... but which still leaves one with nothing the internal eye can see. Overall, the interpolation of the aquatic/nautical imagery seems incongruous. So too does the final stanza's "One Downs' girl in mahogany curls/Sits upon her mother's laughing knee." The poem does not convey any sense of a laughing mother until this point. Rather, the mother's wistful melancholy is the underlying sentiment. If the Down's girl were laughing, that would seem an a more feasible contrast: for the mother to have any laughing bits just doesn't fit. I know we're all learners here, but if I apply the Wallace Stevens test of whether this poem has my internal audience listening and hearing exactly what the poem wants to convey, this does not pass. But it is clearly brimful of the potential to. MAH
This Poem was Critiqued By: Rachel F. Spinoza On Date: 2006-01-15 21:43:13
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
As this poem could have been inspired by god - or an angel. So tense and luscious with nectar, verse, meaning. Perfect, lovely Rachel
This Poem was Critiqued By: Terry A On Date: 2006-01-14 18:13:54
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Tom, The very rhythm of the poem evokes the brushing, the sea. Words that evoke so much love, such depth of caring; without ever once partaking of sentimentality, or relying on pat generalization. How imagery can be infused with the feelings of love, concern and joy, dignifying every aspect of life; lending it such beauty. The few Downs' children I have been in contact with, exhibited the only pure joy I have witnessed among people on earth, absolutely untainted. To be able to express that in language,the way you have done here, is remarkable. To see into the soul of something or someone so clearly and to make it shareable, is to me, what poetry is about. No suggestions to improve this poem, it is a gem, perfect cut. Terry
This Poem was Critiqued By: DeniMari Z. On Date: 2006-01-14 17:05:54
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.00000
Dear Thomas, Wow, is my first thought on your poem. Exceptional piece, I'm very much in awe after reading it. You have used powerful imagery in this, specifically unique lines that add to the art of poetry and I view this as art, in it's best form. Rather than touching on each aspect of this piece, which I found to be well worth reading, I would only like to say, this will be added to my list of favorites for this month. I see absolutely nothing to enhance this in any way and feel it stands on it's own. My best to you, Denimari
This Poem was Critiqued By: Mark Steven Scheffer On Date: 2006-01-13 15:17:12
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Ho, This, and about the last two or three from your pen, show one of those advancements that come to a poet, just come after an accumulation of reading and crafting - growing into one's genius. As I remarked elsewhere: I have been waiting for this ( I was facetious about the "now I can get drunk" part - though whatever "excuse" handy, Wright?). You have always been a wordsmith. Now, the "vision" comes apace. I feel like the godfather at a baptism, a First Holy Communion, a Confirmation. This is just such a grand poem. The imagination that "sees" shines through it, defying matter and time. One could pick almost any stanza, but these two are spectacular: Each nerve ends in a cul-de-sac About which are built great mansions, In which live the affluent, residua Of the millennial accumulations. and This could be God, or an angel Clinging to His robe, or a knife In the heart of her old lover Watching from his black moon. You can't teach that. I always knew it was around your corner. I cannot recall - I really cannot - a single instance where I've read something here or there - outside my pantheon of Crane, Dickinson, Stevens, Shelley, but you know the list - where I've actually said, "I wish I had written that." Until now, that is. Shit, I think I WILL get drunk. After all, is if Friday. :) Your Noxie There
This Poem was Critiqued By: James C. Horak On Date: 2006-01-12 21:36:26
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Thomas, the best poem I've so far reviewed this month. I'm fond of onomatopoeia and you've found it the one word, "thrum". Elegant. But that's a small aspect of this wonderful poem. Elegant too is the imagery in the comparison of nerve complex responding to the tug of a brush through hair, to the intricate structures (presumably) of Victorian suburbs. Poetically turning the line, "Her day licks its bowl dry" is of the highest caliber of this craft's language while, "Breeze-pestered into motion", by far your best image, is nothing less than a superb example of image building. The third stanza/verse is my favorite, sustaining throughout one completed vision, more than one image it is an incredible unity of many. Alabaster fish test the net's strength. A nail parts a wave from its sea. The hiss of hair and the sea waves. Piously she pulls in the catch. Nothing I can say less than to applaud could be anymore than trite. The rest of the poem carries well these highlights, but in the final verse/stanza, we are brought up by "One Downs' girl" that to me, can only mean Downs Syndrome, giving the final gifted line an utter meaning, "Selling not a word of her life sentence". And the poem, a depth for which this reader was quite unprepared. I seriously doubt that a better poem will be offered this month. Most likely, this will be my voting choice. JCH
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jordan Brendez Bandojo On Date: 2006-01-12 09:24:04
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Hi Tom, How much this poem touches my heart! I am in tears remembering my mom who is living at our province right now. It's been more than a year that I have not seen her. Your words and phrases here are just effective to make this reader long for my mother's embrace...This would be my best poem for this month! Jordan
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