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|Poem Title||Poet Name||Critique Given by Joanne M Uppendahl||Critique Date|
|Where Are You?||Joe Gustin||This reads like an elegy. Profoundly sad, poignant and deep. The final strophe hits hardest. "like witnessing a sky//that has never known the sun.". Beautiful, Joe.||2016-06-29 15:05:14|
|Sixteen Candles||Mark Steven Scheffer||MSS, This seems a revisiting of old memories, with an undercurrent of sorrow and anger. Perhaps a juxtaposition of the death of someone loved with a birthday celebration. Or a conflation of the two. What I do know is that I felt my stomach sink with dread at the final line, as if I had had forewarning. The mention of hospitals in S2, with a gravestone in the final line tells me that a tragedy has happened. The jaunty rhythm in S3 seems to mock the reality of what has taken place. The presence of the mother, and Eddie Stanky seem to portray an unfortunate pair (if they were a pair). My sense is that no one was there for the one in grief. It's a powerful poem, and I haven't really done it justice. The title had prepared me for sorrow. And age 16 is so very vulnerable. It's an honor to comment on this poem. I just listened to you read some of your recorded poems and am still very moved by them. JU||2016-06-25 20:33:42|
|Hummingbird||Joe Gustin||This poem has a number of features that are a delight to this reader. It reminds me a bit of the writings of Rumi, in which sensuality is engaged to convey spiritual yearning. I love the simplicity, and the remarkable use of sound throughout. "As if I were a night flower/worshiping the moon" is a thrilling image. Surely the contrast of night's darkness, with the luminosity of the moon pictures adoration in the heart of the lover. I have always felt that the way flowers move to the sun's angle gives an image of worship, as your night flowers do. Highly enjoyable!||2016-06-23 21:48:27|
|Sighs Caress the Sea||cheyenne smyth||Hi Cheyenne, This is lovely, and you've used sounds here so well. I particularly love the tone of the piece, the softness of it, the couple savoring every moment. It is as if these two have carved out a place for themselves to express their love. The narrator, in the final stanza, voices a stunning climax to the piece, so sibilant and soulful that it almost brings tears. Like fallen stars the diamond shores embrace all shadowed ships of fortune We dare the ocean with our breath held to break the silence of weltering water The water suggests emotional turmoil; perhaps the couple has been unable to meet with one another, for whatever reasons. The implication here is that they are meeting under "shadowed" circumstances, holding their breath, and finally, daring the ocean to "break the silence." There is a hidden aspect to this meeting, suggested by your word choices of "fallen/shadowed/ breath held" and others. Are they having to meet in secret, though their passion is strongly implied? I take your hand and press it to my lips while purple horizons slip away Redeemed in spilled grace we catch the light from tinted arches in widening walls of space These lines above suggest that the couple's love is perhaps a tryst, that the redemption, and "spilled grace" envelope them. It feels as if they have been constrained. I am curious about the tinted arches, but see them as symbolic. The couple now have more space around them, increased privacy, but the walls are perhaps ones which will enclose again upon the return voyage. For the moment, ecstasy prevails. You've used imagery and theme beautifully throughout. Below are my favorite lines, as they evoke an intense romantic and soulful mood. You are my wings that let me fly my sails to help me float your are the wind so I can breathe Our sighs caress the sea *** Wonderful closing line. It implies that this couple have found their moments of bliss together. The expansiveness of the entire poem, from what seems to be a world made just for them, makes this romantic poem a sheer delight to read.||2011-11-13 11:24:24|
|I Once Was Lost||Latorial D. Faison||Latorial, This is such a beautiful, heartfelt ars poetica, with form and meter handled deftly. I especially enjoyed the diction of â€œO leave me not upon this boughâ€ and am reminded of 19th Century poets, such as Wordsworth. The hymn-like closing lines are my favorites: "Let me write lifeâ€™s lamentations And of the worldâ€™s bleak salvations Deliver me from this day and the next That I might live in spirit with text Cast me not into the deep But reclaim me as a wayward sheep." The whole poem is highly enjoyable â€“ but the final lines bring home the truth of the poetâ€™s desire to be delivered from a chaotic world, and to write â€œin Spirit and in truth.â€ Beautifully done! It is a joy to read and comment on your work! Blessings, Joanne||2011-11-08 22:20:58|
|Good To Stop In!||Ellen K Lewis||Ellen, Enjoyed this very much. Reading it was a bit like a home-coming, and also similar to attending a writer's conference, and sitting at any table for any meal. and feeling at home and understood. I didn't meet many poets, but still the universal language of writers was a warming patter. I especially enjoyed your final stanza! Your line about the "word...if left unwritten" struck home with me. We are incomplete without one another; the reader and the writer, for a few moments, or maybe a lifetime, forming a unitary alliance. All my best, Joanne||2010-07-29 19:17:28|
|THE MUSICIAN||Monica ONeill||Hi Monica~ I love this poem for several reasons. One, it's great to read a poem of yours again. Another, it's beautifully succinct - your minimalist style emphasizing each thought. For another, it embraces my own philosophy of music. Last evening, I watched a wonderful program with Oliver Sacks, "Musical Minds", about how music can make the brain come alive. It even featured an MRI of his brain as he listened first to one musical work, and then to another. As he listened to one, various areas of his brain lit up - in different locations - not just one area 'devoted' to music. In listening to the second, there was some response, but more limited. It gave me great pleasure, as does your poem, to see the extent to which we are affected, body, mind and spirit, by music. The poem is synchronistic to me, as it emphasizes to a great extent what was shown in the film. "The Muscian" is honored in your poem, for his or her profession, "as no other" can produce the same response in us, to evoke something innate in us "by all that we are." Few other things reflect the soul of our species, as you've illustrated so wonderfully here, as music. Perhaps the closest equivalent is poetry. Thank you for this enjoyable, moving work! Joanne||2010-07-16 15:43:21|
|Once Upon a Then||Dellena Rovito||Dear Dellena, This part give me chills and goosebumps that are still present: Earth's hand hold did unravel Alone I live without her But as wind ripples the trees It leaves me to wonder There's a strong sense here - you've given us an impression of the presence of someone whom you sense "as the wind ripples the trees" - and your wonder is very palapable. I enjoyed this immensely, and find I'm choking up a bit, thinking of the dear ones whose presence I miss - especially "as the wind ripples the trees." It truly is "as if time never existed" when sensing someone or something from the past. Beautiful, soulful writing! Joanne||2010-07-14 20:26:24|
|The Bucket||cheyenne smyth||Cheyenne, Enjoyed this, though melancholy in theme. I felt the bucket as metaphor for what can no longer recapture what once was, but represents happier times. A bucket by the garden patch is busy with some rain to catch Itâ€™s old and owns some splintered cracks beside it sits the farmerâ€™s axe Nicely rhymed and metered throughout. I felt as though the bucket could symbolize someone or something of value to the narrator, or perhaps even oneself. We age and realize mortality; though the bucket still retains purpose, within view is its means of disposal - and a cruel-seeming one at that. Path to the house is dry and healed and weeds have soiled the ditch and field If only it had one good tree it would have meant so much to me It seems as though the surroundings, the house, ditch and field can yield no further growth - the narrator hoped for "one good tree" which perhaps might have meant that things could continue on a bit longer. A strong hint of having served its purpose is L1's reference to the path to the house being "dry and healed" - that is, the tears are dried, the wounds are healing. That's what this line suggests to this reader, at any rate. Itâ€™s sad when things wither and die and live with wrinkled wood or cry Bucket holes spill the drubbing rain Hopes to hold the drops pass in vain When the body starts to fail, as inevitably it will, and mortality looms ahead with greater visibility, hope dwindles - or at least, the hope of continuance in the present form. I canâ€™t visit this doleful place again, it hurts my heart to see its face with the shadowed windows that glare I weep knowing itâ€™s past repair A mournful closing to the piece seems to reflect that the speaker has visited many times, or perhaps grown up or lived in this "doleful place" - and that it must be grieved for and left behind, but not without appreciation for what it has meant, and acceptance or surrender to the closing of this chapter of life. Beautifully handled, if heart-rending. How hard it is to accept the closing of certain chapters of life! Joanne||2010-07-14 20:17:22|
|Sky Scraping||Dellena Rovito||Dellena, This is beautiful! It's wonderfully formatted - the spacing really does emphasize the poem effectively. I especially appreciate the poem's theme. Mountains grow upended crown capped by baby blue. Vaporous breaths form creamy dollop dropped cloud fluffs --splendid alliteration here strung as a pearl necklace around the collar of a pulsating vibrantly alive planet Earth. -- Yes! Each monumental existence is comprised of rocks which plethora's of music resonate from within. (plethoras) To the rhythm of time’s evolutionary prance across the land swaying hand in hand, the mountains dance. --beautiful assonance When power and matter's reciprocal action curvatures down the heights grandiose shall erode to ground. Mountains come and then they go. Your final line says so much. Even the most "grandiose" structures are limited in time, and to living processes. I love the way you've woven science into this artform - it's splendidly done. Favorite phrase: "time's evolutionary prance" This poem sings! My best to you, Joanne||2006-10-23 18:26:03|
|About Love||marilyn terwilleger||Marilyn, What memories this brings - signing on, finding poems to critique! I love romantic poems. This is definitely a poem for those old-fashioned hearts and flowers and soft music evenings. I enjoyed your rhymes and meter, but it's the sentiment that appeals to me most. I lie in (the)comfort of your arms succumbing to your blissful charms The bill and cooing of a turtledove held still within our splendrous love I swoon to sounds of a chanticleer praying you'll always keep me near But restless hearts may crave to roam like churning sea that stirs its foam A rose hangs heavy on the stem -- great metaphor here but to dispetal is a sin "dispetal" is an unusual word - it gives an impression So hearken to sweet tunes of the flute --if you omit "the" it would keep the tetrameter and walk with me in woods of fruit When clouds coat evening's amethyst cradle me in passion's lavender mist The colors are lovely. The narrator asks the one to whom she speaks (or sings) to stay with her, comforting and cradling her with passion. There's a sweet sadness about this, for as your poem shows us, at times "restless hearts may crave to roam." It's a very enjoyable read. Makes me glad I came back! Best to you, Joanne||2006-10-18 15:15:46|
|A Pillar||marilyn terwilleger||Marilyn, This poem strikes me very powerfully. The credo of the first two lines jumps out at me. It’s something that most of us learn the hard way. But I want to stick to responding to the poem as a poem. It starts out almost as a metered work, with four iambs, ending on a trochee in the first two lines. I got into the meter of the first five lines and then I couldn’t help wanting to play with it by taking out “of the” in L4 and combining it with L5 for one strong line of iambic pentameter. I realized that this isn’t your intent, and the poem doesn’t require it. The metaphor of “lacy maze” for life is an effective one, for lacy implies something that is insubstantial, like lacy clouds, for example. And the euphony of “trails/lazy/maze” is engaging. The thrust of the poem is very forceful, with the feeling of “I’ve learned this!” Combining two lives and trying to complete one’s one life with the two would be like combining skies and clouds, leading to nebulousness and lack of clarity. This poem has the voice of a strong woman, who has walked the trails, both with another and alone. The second strophe is equally strong. The doubled plosive b’s in “belongs/born” are emphatic. We are born as individual beings, the N seems to shout. The purity of soul is implied in the ‘downstream birth’—the birth leaving the individual unharmed, full intact. “Unsullied” shows the immaculateness of the child at birth. Perhaps, inwardly, you suggest we are all still this way, and must find our own inner strength and follow it. Be pillars unto ourselves. A tower of strength, one’s own rock. The invitation to scale one’s own mountains, following the sounds of echoes which only the soul can hear who is attuned to that still, small voice within. The sounds of “echoes beckon” is wonderful onomatopoeia. But here’s where the poem grabs me and holds me: And cry your own tears With wet unreadable eyes This couplet says everything about crying for oneself, by oneself, without need for interpretation or even for someone to dry those tears. Let the mysteries within each of us remain something that we can only turn to in self-discovery. This poem gives me shivers, and you can’t know the apropos quality of it for me, on this specific day in my life. Perhaps the term serendipity or synchronicity would apply. The final five lines are charged with energy. The shape of the poem serves to convey the sense of discovery. It makes me think of a conversation I had recently with some friends about taking a pilgrimage on the El Camino Real. Each one walks alone, though we may walk with one another. We may be silent witnesses, but we walk alone. The poem has the feeling of the rugged outdoors in your locale, and for me, at least, a suggestion of Native American Indian heritage. I might take out ‘somewhat’ as a qualifier, as it weakens the statement a little, but on the other hand, it is a true statement from the standpoint of the N. I love the poem and it lends me strength. Beautifully done! My best to you, Joanne||2006-09-16 12:36:47|
|Orchids of the Imagination||stephen g skipper||Steve, You haven't offended. Good heavens, you've made my day. You are able to give poetic form to your appreciation of Mell's friendship and mentorship to those of us who were part of her life on this website. It's a lovely poem, and I am so overwhelmed at the moment that I can't give the feedback that I want to give, but nevertheless, please accept my appreciation for your elegant words for her. Who better to send before us On life’s greatest adventure Than a gardener of thoughts Yes, she goes before us, and meets JoAnne Morgan along the path, as well as Doug Shy. I love it that you make us into a group of souls who have agreed to 'send before us' one of our beloved. And as she featured flowers so often in her poetry, a 'gardener of thoughts' -- so beautifully stated. Because with careful attention To the nurture of our nature A truly exotic bloom can be grown I love this - what to say? It is the careful attention that is most needed. As you know, as I know, how tender we are... A flower so created by such A delicate touch, a gentle breath And a beautiful mind Ah! A 'beautiful mind' is so reminiscent of Mell's essence; perhaps the only way we really know one another here -- and her effects were pervasive. Rhythm would be her roots Words her buds, poems her petals Understanding her sweet nectar You capture all of the imagery and the auditory effects here. I know that she would appreciate all of what you've written, but might deny or shrug away the 'sweet nectar' because she could be acerbic, but those of us who knew her love accepted that as another of her gifts. Full of the joy of a daisy All the eloquence of a lily With the commanding presence of a rose I love it! The symbolism of each of these flowers relates beautifully to Mell. The 'rose behind her ear' is one of the lasting images she left, and I don't know if you were here at the time that she wrote of this. Ah, yes, 'commanding' is very suitable. Flawed yet perfect Frail yet strong Simple yet profound All of these things, Steve. How well you have stated it. And how close I feel that she is in our remembrance of her. A poets soul travelling as light To a worthy place in The Eden of our dreams Ah, you capture the essence of Mell, I believe, in her willingness to lead, as a soul of light, as a poet. And my hope is to reunite with her once more, in that 'Eden' in which we will all be light beings. Thank you for writing this - it is a balm to me, in so many ways, and so very welcome. And I am certain that it will be greatly appreciated by everyone who reads, whether or not they respond with a critique. Bravo~! My best always, Joanne||2006-05-24 21:24:05|
|To dream of sleep||stephen g skipper||Steve, If dreamless sleep were the 'domain of the truly innocent' then none of us would sleep! There are a lot of intense thoughts in this poem, which sounds like you had a really difficult patch, trying to get to sleep while thinking of a lifetime's perceived errors, and fearing dreams can really one awake. In the time before sleep, when nothing occupies the mind, dread of unconsciousness seems a metaphor for dread of death, and uncertainty of what comes after, you show us here. I would like to see a whole poem on the theme of who it was that sang Gershwin's Summertime to you as a babe. There are a lot of worthy ideas here - perhaps a bit scattered, as are our thoughts when we can't get them into the delta rhythm preceding sleep. I'd really enjoy another poem on the outcome of that night's effort to slumber, and especially, that childhood memory of being sung to. Best wishes, Joanne||2006-05-23 10:27:39|
|Leaving||Rick Barnes||Rick, I am gravitating between speechlessness and a thousand words. I think that the part of your poem which struck me hardest is “we must not look back.” I can’t take a lot of strength from that, and I’m going to take it, as offered. I am not going to ‘critique’ this, for as you said, not so very long ago, “a poem IS.” I haven’t deviated very far from that ideal. I want to say a lot of things to this poem, for as you said, it has a life of its own, needs to be addressed as such. Haunted houses make up this town. Boarded up windows And walls torn down, Nothing but wind in the street, And a sky so empty, The sun’s retreat Over those imprisoning hills Complete the void. I feel as thought the poem describes ‘this town’ – this place we have made with our combined focused attention, or as it may be in many instances, inattention. The haunts are real, old cowboy boots lined up against the wall, maybe a cow skull or two in the dirt, glasses in the saloon turned over and the spills long ago evaporated. The wind howls. You already said it best. You painted a picture of emptiness, something longing to be filled with the life once present. Why are the hills imprisoning – because we must ‘look up’ to see them, and our ability to look up has been hampered by our looking down at our feet, or back, over our shoulders at what once was? For Mell, as she was, when she was simply being herself. But she's Not Here. Hearts full of winter, --- this line is searing, it aches Tattered old gown Of an expressionless face. ---with such an ache Arms full of nothing To take the place Of the abundance lost to such A graceless space. “Arms full of nothing” could be the entire poem for me. It seems redundant to repeat the entire poem back to you, since you know what you wrote. It’s just that you wrote what I would have if I could have found any words, but empty ones. These fill that void. The last line above seems to condense everything I thought and felt for the last few months into three words. Grace=elegance, refinement, polish, style. Mell had all of these. Gave these as gifts, as adornments. How can you hold tight to such gifts as these? They are delicate ruins now, but perhaps you are asking us (me) to take another look. We must not look back, We must not lose track Of a destination We can not possibly know Until we have all gone clear. We must move forever forward, Toward, “Not Here”. But Rick, we won’t want to have the conversation about the destination by the time we have all “gone clear.” I would relish you and I having an old-fashioned argument about this, once more. I won’t care by then, but I do care now. And you give me something to ease that caring-which-wants-to-look-back (and maybe be angry). Maybe stay angry, ‘forever backward.’ How did you happen along just when I was feeling so stuck that I’d stopped caring? About moving forward. It’s just like you to come around with a poem like this, when it’s needed most. At least by me. There’s something in this poem that feels to me like clemency. And typically I don’t think you’d take credit for it, but you need to know that I feel it. I almost forgot what it is like to want to write something. For Mell, as if she were reading. Thank you, with Lilacs Joanne||2006-05-22 19:38:30|
|Pushing Envelops||James Edward Schanne||Hello James, I take pleasure in your poetry, though I may miss your intent. What I like is your unusual imagery, the juxtaposition of the unexpected, the impossible. First I thought of a beleaguered mail-carrier, with your title. Then the image of the Mt Rushmore carvings, a presidential shoulder before my mind’s eye. What is ‘thrown to the shredder’ except perhaps shameful documents, things in envelops? "Hence, let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the works of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away" John Borglum, their creator, wrote. Then again, this could be an ars poetica, as you write “on the innate song waiting on the pen is there any ink left for sweets to draw” Has everything already been written, which is truly sweet? Is there yet ink? ears are hammered for appreciation – poetry slams, readings, et al. light is refracted by knees that are eyed – ‘eyed’ knees – do they see or are they seen? by heated tongues of interrogation –suggests espionage to me wagging desires as the supreme spied –tongues are wagging, indeed who are the supreme who ‘spied’? within tornadoes in the hearts unskilled that think time isn't to be used but filled This scans well, you use the form expertly, and I am mystified and intrigued. I am curious to read responses from other readers. It is good to see your work here, once more. Thank you for this unique offering. My best to you, Joanne||2006-05-03 12:35:25|
|Dawn Till Dusk||Jordan Brendez Bandojo||Jordan,
Your originality leaps from the screen. Zest, beauty and humor enliven your poem.
It's difficult to imagine a more joyful paean to the full season of a day's time.
What a welcome reading on an equally lovely spring day where I live! Your abundance
of fricative v's and zinging z's is like electricity running through your strophes.
The dawn clad in dewdrops by its mantle of frost
As zephyr across the Olympian sky swept,
The cockerel's crow roused the folks
Even the poke from deep slumber woke.
The last line above made me smile. The rhyme is funny, although I wondered if you meant
'pokey' so I looked it up, and found it to mean, one that lags! So, I am one, part of the
time. This is so amusing and droll a line, I'd like to steal it. ||2006-04-25 13:50:30|
|Outgrowth||Dellena Rovito||Dellena, This is as incredible a credo and poem as I have encountered anywhere. I am not unbiased about it, because you echo many of my own values. You speak coherently and with humility, and grace. It’s an honor to add comment. Title: Outgrowth In the most respectful way, I submit: I am a seedling of the world. I travel the forest of my days knowing all I embody I inherited from my parents. Traits that I posses have their origin. I am made of Earth, Sun, water, and fire, which sustain every life form’s existence. I love that you capitalize our planet, our star. That you would honor them this way speaks to your reverence. And I especially appreciate the way you begin the poem, as identifying yourself as a seedling. Inherent in the 'seedling' is enormous potential, given the right kind of nurture. I especially love the soft rhythm of L2 above. You are someone who dwells softly upon the Earth. The Earth as nurturer is my Mother: Life, which dwells in all things, I honor, as my sister and brother. Plant life, mountains, people, (beasts) big or small, rivers and streams, ground me. Winged water, rain’s fall and snow’s blow are provisions for purposeful aliveness. The wonderful ‘r’ sounds inform the first line of the strophe above, in a prayer-like declaration. You recognize the Earth as Mother, as home. “Winged water” made me smile. I sense the writer as knowing these elements as containing life, as more than provisions. The Sun as light and giver of life, is my Father. Faithfully, as Sun rises in the sky, my inner God rises also shining light on things ennobling. I’m a solar being, a spark of the Great Spirit fire. Love, sweetness, laughter, dancing singing, even anger, energy’s attributes I utilize, bountiful gifts I enjoy. It’s a complex thought, expressed above. For in the beginning of the poem, we recognize the narrator/speaker as a child of Mother Earth. But in this stanza, we see her as a child of Father Sun as well. The reconciliation of the earth element with the fire element, of the Earth with the Sun. I look to the Moon, too, as connection of the water element with earth and fire, and as the Luminary which lights the night. You weave the poem together in its completion, by your statement of belonging, not of ownership. It is an honor to reflect upon the deeper meanings contained herein, and to realize, once more, that Home can be defined in many ways. To recognize that, as humans, our true Home is made and continues to exist, by the grace of the Great Spirit. To consider that we are sparks in a Divine Fire is worthy of the entire journey. One day, may we share in truth the Oneness of which you speak so eloquently here. And peace. The Earth, Sun, and Cosmos do not belong to me, but I belong to them. The recognition of same, IMO, is the only road to peace. Brava! My best always, Joanne||2006-04-21 20:33:51|
|Woman||April Rose Ochinang Claessens||April, Title: Woman Is she the woman whose knees ‘did not tremble before Adonis’? This poem inspires me to answer it in poetic form. I am deeply attracted to poetry that reflects upon traditional and non-traditional gender roles. I love the sounds within this piece, the resonance of ‘bone/womb’, the multiple m’s in L2, 3 and 6, 7, respectively. Perhaps ‘m’ is the ultimate feminine sound - ‘Mother/Moon/Mama’ – for example. I really love the first line’s direct address to Woman, an archetypal all-in-all, perhaps even the Stonemother upon whose body we live. I’ve read this several times, and have no nits, but I think of, also, it without L4. I love the idea of the womb that has given “Light that freed the lambs.” Most of all, I love the address to the Divine Feminine in S2 and 3. Hail! O Strong one whose strength is borne not by a sword nor a pistol Rise! O crowned conqueror and take your armour which is your heart. Brilliant word play of “armour” and “amour” and the multitude of ‘r’ sounds throughout these strophes in which woman is called to rise, to take only her heart as shield. As well, you open the final stanzas with the perfect circle or “O” which is, at least to this reader, another very feminine symbol. I am not certain whether my remarks apply to your intent for the piece, but I found much beauty in it, and that is sufficient for me. Well done! You additional notes distracted me somewhat. I wanted to read and reread the poem without my eye being drawn down the page, but that is me. I will definitely have to read the poem in which you refer to Tantalus. Best to you, Joanne||2006-04-21 19:59:33|
|High Road||Kenneth R. Patton||Ken, This is searing, because of its truthfulness. I think this one belongs with your others, in your next book of poetry. It simply says so much about how hard it is to be conscious, aware, and also step out, to go fully where your soul is calling. But with mindfulness of how one's actions will affect the other. I can't begin to offer any technical suggestions - this doesn't call for any. "How do you gently excise a heart?" It hits me hard, for many reasons. Can it even be done, this excision? Or do we always have remnants of one another, vestigal, partial organs that keep on beating, like the frog heart from biology, long after the surgery has been performed. The Phoenix legend suggests that as we die, we are born anew. Surely divorce is a kind of death. I don't know about the choice between careful surgery or ripping it (the heart) out "clean and quick." The ambivalence of the poet and the poem's honesty make this one heart-rending. It's ironic, but I think, that the best poetry comes from intense emotion. This is a humbling poem to read. Bravo! My best, Joanne||2006-04-20 19:20:46|
|A Sonnet||marilyn terwilleger||Marilyn, First, I love the ‘little song’ in your sonnet. Its evocation strikes me to my core. It’s impossible to read this and not be moved. I have suggestions, though I’m not very proficient in this form. I do see that this one has great potential, with some minor fixes and I’m sure other readers will make cogent comments. Strongest is its emotional impact, along with the sounds and images. Take or toss any of my ideas. Title: A Sonnet Here are suggestions for meter – you need ten beats per line for iambic pentameter. And the rhythm of unstressed/stressed: Before (the) shades of deepest night doth fall I’ll sing my runes unto the sun, my love (perfect!) And if the nightingale’s voice sings my call Suggest: And if the nightingale will sing my call *for meter only The angels will rejoice in heaven above If I lose my way and become adrift Suggest: And if I lose my way and fall adrift * again, for meter only The mourning seas will weep until composed (perfect!) (Then) I shall wend my way (o’er) mountain’s cliff * meter And maybe to answer the question posed by ‘if’ in L5, as sonnets often pose a question/answer or a kind of ‘argument’ if you see what I mean. Till I hear your ode and souls are reposed (Until I hear your ode and soul’s repose) for meter For lovers have but only one true course – sublime! To (scale the) mountains high and valleys [so] deep (Just) as the melancholy sun (begins) to fade And leaping stars of night begin to peep The final couplet would ordinarily still carry the ten beats per lines, but you change in rhythm here can offer a divergent pattern. Still, if you are to continue with the Shakespearean patterning, and as the couplet presents the greatest problem of the English sonnet, I’d suggest adding another line to complete the poem, and making the lines below into one, perhaps as My love for you abides in shade that’s cloaked in hues of eve’s brocade I’d even wonder if ‘dressed’ or ‘masked’ or even veiled might work here. As for the final line, if you chose to work with pentameter for the couplet, I don’t have any suggestions, except I ‘feel’ it saying that though the love is cloaked, it will be as brilliant as sunlight when you are reunited. This is mournful and beautiful, Marilyn. It’s your truth expressed in song and unforgettably tender images. I hope my ideas for meter and for the couplet will prove helpful. Thank you for inviting our help. I hope you will continue to write more, for if this is your second, I can only imagine what your tenth will be like. My best always, Joanne||2006-04-20 18:59:28|
|Vernal Season (Haiku)||Thomas H. Smihula||Thomas, This is quite lovely. Modern haiku does not have to conform to the exact 5-7-5 meter. I love the sense you've given here that the pine trees are somewhat reluctantly 'accepting springtime' as these are trees without blooms, who can stand winter winds, who seem almost impervious to everything. But they, too, must yield to the softness of springtime. The sensory impressions given by the poem are especially appealing to me, as I love pine trees which are in abundance in the area where I live, and my favorite hang-out, the coast. I also have the sense that the 'needles' of the pine exhibit their strength, but perhaps as well, their weakness. There are times when being very strong is at odds with the need to surrender. Beautifully done. Best wishes, Joanne||2006-04-19 16:54:42|
|Physics Dream||Jordan Brendez Bandojo||Jordan, Title: Physics Dream Your scientific training gives an unique, piquant flavor to this very original poem. I smiled all the way through your playful, spiritually vibrant stanzas. Sun's peep has permeated through earth's nucleus, Vernal clime has reigned cockcrow; Hey, shun the baffling yore's interference! Welcome the "now's" lip-smacking dispersion. The celebration of spring sings with the “Sun’s peep” and I am imagining the earth as transparent. To live in the “now’s” seems very apropos of the awakening of a new season, to be reborn with the changing of the season. I love the witty “baffling yore’s interference” allusion. If clock ticks job well-done, Never more shall I dally away. "Time is money," my mind radiates, The saw that B. Franklin from limelight entailed. It seems that the clock’s ticks imply that every second counts! (Kronos?) The narrator reminds the reader that dalliance will not achieve brilliant inventions nor make best use of the passage of time. If love throbs like a pendulum, to and fro, Will convey periods of harmonic oscillation, Whence replete glee enlivens heyday, Ever quintessence of Jubilee. I sense the idea here that the inherent rhythms of the universe, the oscillation of particles, is really an expression of love, throbbing throughout creation. It is a lovely thought, worthy of celebration (Jubilee). If science and virtue are packed into armored quanta, Physics dream would zip towards blackhole, Yon loomed bolts of myriad chances That spring up new horizons. Wow! The stanza above is packed with ideas, of quantum physics, of probable universes (myriad chances) and constantly emerging “new horizons.” Your “Yon loomed bolts” is wonderfully assonant and original. Let prayer (hew) the belt of ether Count on God who doesn't play dice, Einstein had it confirmed More than he had proven E=mc^2. You close with the reference to Einstein’s statement about God. And imply that prayer is real and affects “the belt of ether.” This is stunning and thought-provoking! Playful yet profound, Jordan. I enjoyed this immensely. Fresh, lively and uplifting. My best always, Joanne (AKA “Auntie”)||2006-04-19 08:27:43|
|Night||Ronald D Istivan||Ronald, Poem title: Night Firstly, I really like the imagery of the first line, the incongruence of the moon hitting the pavement. Something as soft as moonlight is striking a hard, ungiving surface. That the night luminary is as bright as the sun is another paradoxical idea. But it’s your third couplet that ‘hits’ me as a reader. It’s ironic, at least retrospectively, that people who take their lives often do ‘advertise’ in a way. Your next couplet frightens me a bit as it seems to be from the perspective of one who has already experienced death or perhaps contemplates it. Again, the poem offers irony and contradiction – IMO, a very accurate picture of one contemplating suicide. But it’s the final line that delivers the greatest power, at least to me. The way it fluctuates, denies and even speaks in childlike voice -- “not nothing” -- as if the narrator/speaker denies even the existence of self. I found this poem to be very moving if a bit of a conundrum. I hope you will submit more of your writing here. “Never, not right now, no, never, not nothing, anyway.” Very compelling work. Best, Joanne||2006-04-18 20:51:09|
|My Husband"s Mother||marilyn terwilleger||Marilyn, This is a lovely, evocative poem. I've read it several times, and each time I think of women I've known from an earlier generation, and wander around in those thoughts for a while. You make the smells, sounds and her character vivid on the page. That we still love and remember those who have gone on before us is perhaps a clue to the real 'thread that binds' - love - and at least for me, gives hope that we cannot ever be truly separated by death. Her spirit lives on, and her robustness is captured here with your remembrance. Your "coffee perking" and "boxes of buttons" evoke a whole host of my own recollections. I sometimes wonder what my descedants will recall. Will it be the clacking of a keyboard, the music always playing, stories and poems read, a shared love of drawing and painting? Will it be email and cell phone conversations? Anyway, your poem moves me and I am so glad that you reposted it here. Many thanks. And smiles. Best always, Joanne||2006-04-18 20:29:40|
|Moonlit Night||marilyn terwilleger||Marilyn: You captured me in the title, already. Your first line is like a massage. The ‘uh’ sounds and sibilants induce a state of relaxed awareness. The ‘window pane’ suggests ‘widow pain’, at least it does to me, and dust and cellophane telegraph a sense of tender melancholy. Reverie with bittersweet remembrance – a minor chord in music to my ear. Though the memories ‘flit like larks’ they are elusive in the un-curtained sky. I thought about this term, ‘un-curtained’ and concluded that it seems as though a giant hand had taken down or drawn back the curtain, as if life were a play, and the curtain which opens before it had been removed as the play has concluded, the theatre empty. The poem’s tone is elegiac; what was once enchanted and seemingly to last forever has vanished. Clever ‘tic of an eye’ instead of the tick of a clock. The clock’s sound vs the slight spasm suggested by the tic – amazing parallelism. The verbs you use – rubs/flit/sit/awaiting – suit the poem’s reflective mode. While it is yet day, as the speaker is within the sunlight, she awaits the night. A suggestion of the longed-for presence of the one who is missing, with whom the speaker shared youth and memories. The liquid sounds of the doubled l's in 'cellophane/brilliance' are very effective, and the internal rhymes are wonderful. Very evocative – beautifully written – and brought a sting to my eyes, once more, as your poetry often does. I love this. Thank you for writing a new one. I hear a new voice emerging, and look forward to more. Though there is sadness in the poem, there is also hope for reunion. I believe in this with my whole heart. My very best always, Joanne||2006-04-17 19:37:18|
|Leave-taking||stephen g skipper||Steve:
This is a poem which IMO deserves to be heard. Reading it aloud, I
stumbled a bit over the pronunciation of ¡§Tautha De Danann¡¨ but
realize that some things are meant to be imagined and not attempted.
|10:26 Revisited||Sandra J Kelley||Sandra: I remember your earlier poem of 10:26. This one places the reader in the midst of the the situation. You make it so visible, so palpable. The scene, an intimate one, as if two lovers are standing beneath night sky, caught in a meaningful moment, as if time has stopped at 10:26, a time that “has not changed in years.” There are subtleties within your writing that I especially enjoy, the sounds – “blue black” plosives, and ‘sh’ in “sheen/shade” and the assonance of “hangs/grass/damp” as well as the internal rhymes of “black/back” for example. But beyond the fine-tuned crafting, which is really invisible, is the sense of awareness of the moment, of the sensation of the warm hand against the speaker’s back as the stable element in the poem, as the wind has made “every thing else unstable.” Blue black sheen of sky Hangs like a curtain around us Pierced by only a sprinkling Of stars. Grass under our feet Is cool but not yet damp. It too is a shade of black Here where there is so little Light. Your hand warm Against my back is solid The wind makes everything else Unstable. And again your hand Is the only warmth. The clock In the heart of town just Visible from the hilltop Proclaims 10:26. A time That has not changed in years. The sense of everything about to shift is enhance by the resonance of “us/unstable” the opening soft ‘u’ sound suggests, at least to me, that the pairing is time-limited, as the clock in the “heart of town” makes a proclamation of time “that has not changed in years.” The singularity of the warmth of the hand at the speaker’s back seems to me to be the strongest sensory element of the night’s darkness and chill. There is a feel about this poem, to me, of anguished yet vivid recollection. There is a sense that this couple will continue to meet in this way, with only a curtain of sky around them, and nowhere to be with one another as they desire to be, with the clock’s reminder of the lateness of the hour, the sameness of the situation, “Unstable.” It is beautiful and heartbreaking without being sentimental in any sense. I love it! Brava! My best, Joanne||2005-12-19 21:09:49|
|Yuletide Wish For TPL||marilyn terwilleger||Marilyn: It's lovely. I love the words "silence of the snow" -- this Christmas may you be surrounded in light. Hugs, Joanne||2005-12-14 17:36:14|
|Yuletide Wishes For Marilyn||Mell W. Morris||Mell-O: No crit required, but appreciation is a good thing, yes? I love the images - wondering how the bee got in there and out again. It's very musical and I hear Chopin instead of Tschiakovsky. I especially love "snow trees posed in pas de deux." The candles are lit, the vespers are being said. What a gracious idea, a cyber-card. I think you are dressed adroitly for the season in your Red Hat and are passing on a great idea for a tradition. I happen to have one in storage - not a red hat - a Yuletide greeting. ;-) Thanks for this reminder that 'tis the season, and this 2005 season will not come 'round again. And so I raise a toast to you ... Cheers! And stars ... ***** With love, LL Em||2005-12-12 20:38:00|
|08/12/05 (am)||stephen g skipper||Steve: "Hurts to write a rhyme" is a powerful line. It struck me hard. I know the feeling today. I am not sure I am getting your intent for it accurately but it resonated for me. There are times when it is more painful to write than to not write. Either way, it's tough to be a poet inside oneself, is it not. I think you bring that idea across incredibly well, at least for me. The first line takes me immediately to standing outdoors, listening to the flakes hit leaves and the ground. A kind of soft 'ponk' sound. Indoors, I can't hear it at all. It is a deep silence. You bring us into the silence immediately. Then you show us that it is an internal "mental blizzard" which shelters "silently." Enforced solitude "Brings a daylight loneliness" It’s colder inside You show very effectively how it can feel colder inside oneself than in any literal blizzard. The second line is another great one, IMO. But line three below is the one which really captures my attention, made the poem speak to me personally. New direction sought Alter-passion is needed Hurts to write a rhyme The final stanza sounds miserable. It suggests 'gilt' as well as 'guilt' and such gifts are costly to receive. I'm not sure I grasp the second line below, except to imagine that the gift has caused pain of which the giver is completely unaware. The poem makes me reflect upon such gifts as I have received like this. “Guilt”ed gifts received “Un” confessional payment Cold winters bring pain The final line seems to sum up the piece, for the cold inside and the cold outside meet the writer's/speaker's reluctance to write the rhyme for it hurts to do so. I believe I understand this reference and wish there were some way to remedy the situation. What helps one doesn't work for another, but what has helped me is, as you've suggested above, finding an "alter-passion" when poetry brings hurt. In spring and summer it's easier, because I can always work in my flowers. I hope there is some equivalent for you in winter. For me it's a task to find something else I love as much. May you find warmth and that writing again brings comfort. My best to you, Joanne||2005-12-08 18:33:18|
|Wishes (for Alanah)||stephen g skipper||Steve:
Title: Wishes (for Alanah)
This is lovely! No doubt your daughter delights in it, and it will be a family
tradition to cherish. I love the way it begins, and can picture a father reading
it to his children, his eyes twinkling, theirs wide and hopeful.
I really like the way stanza one takes the reader or listener, more likely,
in imagination “over/down/up/down” so that a dizzying sense of
expectancy is given. Of course, personally, down by the sea is where
I’d want to go if I were a child or adult listening. ||2005-12-04 20:32:28|
|Quorum||Mark Andrew Hislop||Dear Mark: Title: Quorum “Franking” is a word I had not encountered before, but learned it means the marking of the mail as ‘postage paid’ and therefore it, with many other references, alerts me to the theme of this poem, along the lines of ‘your time’s up, what’re you gonna do about it?’ “the mail is the principal doomsday device for making contagion from hay, like clockwork delivered by DNA” I’ll admit to being a bit lost here. I get the reference to DNA being a sort of incendiary device, with codes for deadly diseases locked within. But as you reassure us, “when it doesn’t have your name on it, you don’t die from it.” It takes a combination of factors to trigger the DNA ‘doomsday device’ – many of which remain unknown to us. Then, I believe you are referencing a coffin, the “man-sized rat trap” or perhaps it could be a car? In any event, it seems to be the conveyance in which one arrives (“recent arrivals can be surprised”) in the land of death, perhaps the Bardo of Mahayana Buddhism, the intermediate state between lives, when the mind experiences a series of hallucinations ending in its next birth. I’m still lost in this poem, but very intrigued: “Too late, they learn it’s too late to learn English after your dog’s gone off its Chump. (No, I don’t follow you.) Wait.” Right, Mark, I don’t follow you. I am wandering around in this strange place, aptly named by you, “the bowels of chaos.” “There is nothing” – An existentialist POV, as it sits alone on the line? “sparrows farting at sunrise” – Ah, the nature lover! Auditory imagery! This makes me laugh, as each morning I walk under tree limbs containing not sparrows, but large Canadian geese and mallard ducks. Their sound could be imagined as deafening, rather than the dainty little squeaks of sparrows. “But when you do get your discharge papers——yours——and feel pressed by the (is that—?) eagerness of your family members to watch you spring them open” Humor helps here, as everywhere else in life. There is that eagerness, unacknowledged, for the final gasps to be complete. You make it seem very personal by the emphasis on “yours.” It’s always easier to imagine someone else’s, those being the only deaths that anyone reading has actually experienced so far. You show how time instantly distorts. This makes sense to me as in my lifetime I have experienced events which changed the feel of time. It is reasonable to imagine that entering death does so more markedly. “watch: instantly the clock starts running backwards, your child becomes a sunset, or more accurately the adolescent hope of a shared sunset one day. Snap.” (The silver chord snapped asunder?) “Immediately, doesn't that set you wondering who you’re going to spend eternity with? Or how crowded it is in there and, critically, whether you will float.” The poem does set me to wondering. About how we will sense one another after the “snap” has occurred, and whether we will have freedom to wander about, and what it will feel like and where will we hang our ‘identities’ – will it be like going through the security checkpoint at an airport, when we are divested of those things which normally identify us as individuals? Wondering whether one will float brings up the obverse idea of ‘sinking’ and where would one sink? To? I enjoyed this poem and have gone on far too long making nonsense of my response to it. I hope I have caught some of your ideas. Thanks for the chance to ponder these things! I've enjoyed myself. My best, Joanne||2005-12-01 14:15:54|
|Separate ways||Mark Andrew Hislop||Dear Mark: I just can’t attempt to parse or deconstruct this in my typical way, not that you’ve asked me to. Many times when beginning to comment on a poem, I will do something like that, just by way of warm up to get to the part I want to say. Here the part I want to say is difficult, because your degree of honesty is so razor sharp that I feel cut on it. It separates out the trivial from momentous, at least for me. Most everything else other than the sundering of a relationship, whether through separation or death, in my opinion is trivial. My bleeding therefore is only for me, though struck anew by recognition in your poem of those common pathways shared. Also, some of the symbolic terms you use, ‘universe/worm-holed/augury/doom/old gods/spider goddesses/Olympus’ are some to which I am especially drawn. Life as a Greek drama – “crammed with curses” but feeling so very personal. Most vivid, like the vivisection it depicts: “Our opened hearts spasmed Like amputated frog legs under electrodes.” and a reference to the war term ‘shock and awe’ -- “Those few Mortal days we once borrowed from Olympus, shocking Our mouths with awe, now wrapped our children” and the price paid by those above who have no recourse is recognized by the writer as the greatest of all. I wasn’t going to analyze and I’m not, but I can’t get away from my unease at commenting on writing as revealing, as searing as this: “a photon From nowhere, forever lighting nothing” Maybe it will help to realize that your writing, if you are the photon, does give light. It makes a good reading-lamp for life review. For consideration of the aches of others, for casually observed partings. You don’t take the easy road here. You have given your best to the effort and somehow the light from this poem serves as a magnifying glass for looking back at oneself. Painful, but in a sense refreshing. Now we see… Excellent, Mark. My best, Jo||2005-11-29 21:08:08|
|October Blues||stephen g skipper||Steve: You give us a napkin-written poem that belies its hastily-written origins. Chances are it was years in the writing. You begin on a ‘low’ note, but end with the suggestion to the reader to look for you ‘in the morning light.’ You circumscribe the October Blues to a limited field of play. I believe your poetic depiction of depression as protective is apt and moving. You could not have hit upon a more apropos title for this reader than the one you have chosen, but for personal reasons. ‘Blues’ are some of my favorite music and the color amongst my most preferred. A poem about the blues has a great appeal and yours is fresh. I especially enjoy your description of her as a blanket “warm and soft/muffling life’s demands/as a mother would protect her young/surrogate created.” What about our psyche knows the limits of our endurance and how to protect us? I have something I call “Black Irish” moods from time to time. A fearsome bout of ‘blues’ I suppose inherited from my Irish grandmother who was given to fits of temper along with continuous quotation of her favorite poets. She had a line of poetry for every nuanced feeling, and if not, she’d paint. I basked in her approval and fled from her moods. It’s funny, how your poem recalls her to me vividly. She was born in October, but that’s probably not the reason. I think she would have enjoyed this poem. An innocent crying inspires me to attempt “non-surrender” -- I like the unexpected quality of this phrase hesitant childlike steps. We do attempt to shoulder our burdens and not give in completely to despair. I love the tender way you accept your crying as ‘innocent’ for truly it is, and identifying the steps taken as ‘childlike’ adds to the authenticity and gentle quality of this poem. Many would do well to observe the speaker’s stance. “Look for me in the morning light.” Lovely, indeed. Many thanks for this. Well done! Best to you, Joanne||2005-11-29 19:59:28|
|Shadow Beyond Solitude||marilyn terwilleger||Marilyn: I felt this poem, very deeply. I am torn between making suggestions, as you have let us know that this is a work in progress, and simply responding to your poem as it speaks to me. First, let me say that your anguish comes through strongly as does your determination to live life fully now, without the hindrance of extreme grief. You show clearly how you still honor the one to whom these words are addressed, still love him, and will remember him always. The first line’s ‘saved day’ for missing him is very poignant, but it also introduces the idea that now your missing him will not occupy all of your thoughts during waking hours. When you write “I've climbed my way over mountains high” you give a clear and accurate portrait of the effort required to live daily life in the face of grief. Ordinary day-to-day activities take this much effort. “And scorned the pelts of driving rain” shows how little impact external things can have when your inner life is stronger, because so focused and concentrated on the person whom you miss. I feel as though I have written these same words to you – and I wasn’t able to locate the earlier poem upon which this one is based. But I might have said very much the same thing about the theme and content. “I've strolled through shades of years alone” – here I am reminded of the first poem I memorized, WE Henley’s “Invictus”, IMO, in meter and intent, i.e. “My head is bloody, but unbowed.” While every day was a masquerade, and Strong was the silence that bellowed. Silence can be the loudest of sounds when you are listening for the footsteps or voice of the someone you love who has died. My favorite lines are these: “I find delight in a sapphire sky As the brazen light spins renewed.” The sun which has just kept on rising up every morning, brazenly, as it nothing has happened, now lights a “sapphire sky” for the speaker who begins to see colors again. How simply and elegantly you bring this idea across. Only as a suggestion: If at some future time you do decide to revise, I always like to see what a poem will look like with articles ‘a’ and ‘the’ removed where possible. Maybe the ‘a’ in L1 below, likewise in L3. Tiny little nits, but only ones of preference. The body of the poem and your language is evocative and very meaningful to me personally as a someone who has spent much time in grief. It is melancholy but hopeful, and very truthful. In this I think you cannot go wrong. The honesty of someone who has ‘been there’ and who listens to her inner voice is very compelling. Wonderful! With love, Joanne||2005-11-29 16:03:30|
|At The 318 Where||Thomas Edward Wright||Tom: It’s a nice riff of cc’s, and I can’t ignore that any more than I could ignore chocolate mousse cheesecake. And then your kinship with sounds, and light-swearing. It’s a Midwesterner’s all-out barbecue. I have to have some. I mean, who else would write “skive in sleek” and “licentiously lit up” (omitting the rest of the line) for comment, for sampling? And repeat ‘tender’ in your “tender/tenderly” way? Too much cabernet and merlot. And ess’s in “caresses yet-repressed” are almost throw-away in casualness. Cha! Your “sin-singed eyebrow” is so un-plucked. The only real sins are of omission. I’ve done nothing but repeat your good phrases. A toast to Mell. Toussen taks, Joanne||2005-11-27 22:42:30|
|For my father, when he will be on his deathbed||Mark Andrew Hislop||Mark: Your title is a great improvement! I think it enhances the entire poem. Thanks for not hiding the first version of this one, and resubmitting. It's even more moving with this change. Best to you, Joanne||2005-11-23 08:56:49|
|Senex||Mark Andrew Hislop||Mark: This isn't going to be a very articulate comment, but I need to make one. After reading a poem a certain number of times, and especially if it effects me emotionally, I believe I owe at least some response to the author. This poem is "infinitely more sad." Compassion and taking responsibility for actions which may not be undone are heartfelt, clearly. The poem rippled in my memory for quite a while after the first reading. And I reflected on how many poems I have written for people no longer living, or people whom I love who are living, but who will never read my words, either because I won't read or give the poem to them, either out of protectiveness towards them or myself, or my not wanting to be misunderstood. Poets perhaps have a tendency to express a lot of things in poems and less directly than more extroverted types. Of course there is no 'pure' type, IMO, as we are all a mixture of both, or variable depending on many other things. Another reflection which your poem prompted for me is the letters I have written or thought. Sometimes there are no second chances to tell people how much we value them. Maybe they know by our behavior, maybe not. I am thinking now specifically of someone, a friend whom I valued immensely, who was killed by a gunman, stalking someone else, at the college where he taught. I hadn't stayed in touch as planned when one day on the news I heard there had been a shooting and I knew instantly that it was him. I wrote a poem about the event and posted it here, but it did no good as far as telling him anything. It relieved only a small part of my sorrow. I would have liked to have told him that I knew he would have taken the bullet for the woman for whom it was intended were he given the option to do so. Whatever the forces that operate, whether random or synchronous, his fate was completed that day. I had no more chances to tell him anything, exchange hugs, express more about my appreciation for his playing the piano for my mother's memorial or anything else. So your poem does this for me - it's a reminder that it is permissible to tell people know, while I can, what they mean to me and why. So thank you for this, once more. My best to you, Joanne||2005-11-22 14:44:50|
|Thirty Days Has September||Mell W. Morris||Dear MellO- Génie Pourpre de la Poésie Vividly, and tastefully you’ve given us a portrait of an admirable woman, and a sour-ass of a man. The ‘green’ man and the purple lady, alas destined to clash. Your euphonious (there are certain words in this language which I believe need to be footnoted in the dictionary as belonging to you, and you alone) creation has woven a spell in which we see the Green Man who believes himself to be a Deity-in-the-making making off without the Princess of Purple. He is cashless, clueless, and conceited. But at one time, undoubtedly, he was her Prince, or at least a frog with the potential to be one! That his wife was ‘fey’ makes me think of the magical, the Irish, the supernatural, the clairvoyant. But she was not clear-seeing at the moment of falling-in-love with him, of the remote, cold-coffee setting aside gestures. Pleasing, melodious sounds – “cachet/panache” and “fey/fanciful/wife” – belie the less than “sweet/conceit” aftertaste of this ex-mate with “his poor taste erased.” He has not been completely erased, I suspect, but continues to believe his own conceit. And then, on the other hand, this could also be the story of another or others of whom the writer is aware. They seldom went out together and their differences grew slowly, leech-like. Perhaps it is also a cautionary tale, for those who are yet drifting but not completely riven. Because many marriages devolve with these differences noted above, and like the leech, swell with something taken from the lifeblood of another, and become monstrous. The sound of ‘leech’ almost creeps up my cheek and makes me shudder! It recalls a swimming summer in my teens when, oh, indescribable orfulness. She began to move her important things to the enclosed patio: CD player, her computer, a small half-bed, and piles and piles of books. This is, without the technical enhancements, almost the picture of a Victorian lady, or of the late Czarina, Alix, apart from her preoccupied Nicky. In her purple bedroom, she slept alone on a chaise, I think, and wrote and read in endless wait. In this instance, the heroine is better able to comfort herself with her own enchantment. That she is enchanted “in the swath and sweep of stars” makes me think of someone I know well, but I divagate. (I am purloining your words this evening, Enchantress!) That she is a ‘matador/Amazon’ who also “cried him a river” makes me smile, though sadly. OK, then I lied, because I remember Ella Fitzgerald’s “Cry Me a River” --and it’s too true. “Well you can cry me a river, Cry me a river, I cried a river over you.” She felt twitchy and on edge when she left her patio...akin to living in a small garden of flowers. Her lilacs by the back gate were lush this year and she felt happy and at peace and "peace comes dropping slow...midnight's all a glimmer and noon a purple glow." She smiled and bowed to the cries and shouts from the crowd...Brava!Ole! and Mr. IOU never knew what he was missing! The Yeats passage is so well-suited to this poem. It is rich with irony (An Amazon who cried a river) and MellO droll humor juxtaposed with purple pathos, but we never see self-pity in our lovely dweller amongst lilacs. The debtor never realized that he left the only reward worth having in life – the one who loved him! – for the false prize of his false pride. I devoured the poem from start to finish. And you must know, as I am sure you do, that if the shoe fits, it fits. And it might fit many afoot. Your poems surprise and delight me without fail. This, no exception! These comments do not do justice to the impact of this poem for me. Brava! With love, LL Em||2005-11-18 22:20:59|
|Temple of the Bard||Mary J Coffman||Dear Mary: This is an outstanding example of the terza rima form, IMO. Your friend is undoubtedly delighted with this tribute to her work. There are many things about this poem which I especially appreciate. I really admire the elegant language of this poem, for example your use of words like “lexis/nexus” – these are highly unusual end line rhymes! I am tempted to offer comment line-by-line, there is so much in which to luxuriate given here. The assonance of “soul’s/glow” and the soft, breathy ‘h’ of “heart’s haven” is sumptuous, especially read aloud. I’d have to delineate my reaction to “candescent/tenants/quiescent” and so much more to cover everything about the poetry-crafting in this work which gives me pleasure. One slight suggestion: In L1 of S3, I’d use “woven.” I’ve only seen the word “candescent” in one other poem that I recall here, and it is one which also éclairs your work. I love the phrase “eye’s pane” which implies, to me at least, what it states, but also, ‘painful vision’ at least in some sense. “Temple of the Bard” is refreshingly feminine, whilst we are most accustomed to the use of “bard” in the sense of a male identity, such as Shakespeare. You’ve given us an exquisite vision of a woman, a poet who ‘illuminates’ manuscripts with the gold derived from her passion and her receptive inspiration. My favorite stanza: Gilded doors unlock dreams of aspiration. Sanguinity saturates her many rooms, kindling quiescent imagination Glowing imagery, the sounds of ‘g’ and sibilants makes this stanza particularly appealing to me. This is a poem in which to rest one’s eyes, mind and heart. Magnificently done! Brava! My best always, Joanne||2005-11-16 20:13:58|
|The Vision Vanessa||Sean Donaghy||Dear Sean: Great to see another of your poems! As before, this one makes music. I hear it as sung, can't seem to avoid that, though I tried. I got a picture of Vanessa as one who has "shown the mirror to the clown" as I think we do for one another in all relationships. There is a depth to this piece that is belied by its rather casual style and musical charm. Your rhythm and rhyming are superb, but the quality of the piece that is most striking, at least to me, is the portrayal of one who is so easily judged and dismissed by society. And yet she is universally each one of us as well, if not openly in our nature, Vanessa lives in the realm of our unconscious motivations. She is part projection, part unowned self, part unfulfilled need. Someone may say "visions that you've chose" should be 'chosen' but I think that the whole of the poem supports the language, as it would be spoken by the narrator. Excellent! Thank you for this one! My best to you as always, Joanne||2005-11-16 19:55:20|
|Live On||Debbie Spicer||Debbie: What a meaningful and tender tribute to our beloved Jo Morgan. I know that you were especially close, and met in ‘real time.’ This is an example of the way that poetry can change things. You wrote yours, she responded; she wrote hers, you responded. She critiqued nearly every poem for a very long time. She referred to herself as a ‘gut critiquer’ but I would characterize her as a ‘heart critiquer.’ The support and encouragement for our writing and lives given by Jo will never be forgotten. Your poem will also introduce her to those who may not have met her in her last months. Indeed, she was “our star” and one who was generous with “revealing love along with truth.” I especially appreciate your closing stanza, as I feel her ‘presence’ here, too, and that she is aware of many of us with whom she was especially close. Luminescent and joyful We will miss you so Live on and on within our hearts Shadowing us with your soul. Thank you for this. It goes on my list! Beautiful! With love, Joanne||2005-11-15 11:37:26|
|Daylily||Dellena Rovito||Dellena: I love this poem because its symbolism evokes joy for me. The quiet, unseen daylily blooms “hot hued colored bold” as do we. Taking our brief time as time extended infinitely, we enjoy our “one full day of eminence.” The way you write this makes me feel that “one full day” is enough. It is complete in itself, even if unseen or away from the writer’s “line of sight.” Perhaps it is her physical manifestation, perhaps it is her soul. In either case, its beauty cannot be denied. I love this: “poised to validate existence.” But I love this more: intimately experiencing the elements: sky, wind, rain, earth and most essentially the sun. Yes! Maybe we will be unheralded, but perhaps existence itself is enough. Experiencing the elements, and “most essentially the sun” you show that we are part of a great light ourselves, whether we can see our personal light as significant or not does not seem to matter in this poem. It is the act of being oneself in the time allotted that counts. The lily is often seen as the symbol for life, death and rebirth. I think you more than hint at these associations in this lovely poem. You remind us to have faith, though in essence, while we are in the physical body, at least some part of us is also in the process of death. Fresh, wearing old, a day of life unfolded too quickly, according to the span of man. A lifetime for the lily is brief, according to our measure. To what greater beings is our span a mere flicker? If our bodies are “wearing old” are we not yet “fresh” in the simplicity of our inner being? I think you ask these questions here. You show that our spans are relative, and that we are of a substance as remarkably enduring as that of which our local star, the Sun, is made. The existence of this one single bloom upon the stem gives cause to celebrate. You show the eternity in the moment of a single bloom, the reason to celebrate our lives full-heartedly and with all of our passion, because we are part of the unfolding life of the elements which make up the universe, “most essentially the sun.” Brava! Well done, once more. My best always, Joanne||2005-11-11 19:50:17|
|Taking your leave||Mark Andrew Hislop||Mark: This poem is like a faceted gem. Turned this way and that, it reveals different colors and light. I have read it many times, and it's going to be hard for me to give you my internal response, because it is so internal. Externalizing these subtle emotions, as you have done in this poem, is a taxing thing for me, an introverted, gloomy type to do. But I am smiling even as I say this, as it would appear to be a lie to many who believe they know me well. We don’t know each other well in this world, I often feel. This is one of my fascinations with poetry, for it reveals that which is interior. Our inner dialogue, written so that others may read and take what they may from it. I take a lot, but I am uncertain how much of what I take is connected to your intent or experience of your own writing. I do know I enjoy your precision, honesty, fluidity, and use of language and especially sound. The poem makes me reflect, deeply, on relationships in my own life and the truth or falsity of them, according to present perspective. I especially enjoy your phrase “private alchemies” as I think this is what the process of writing promotes for both writer and reader. Reading this poem is an experience which will change my perceptions of things. I think this is the power of poetry. So, what do I do when, finally, I do discover my deepest truth after a lifetime diving blind? And then, reading these words, I felt that we are always “diving blind” but perceive, perhaps for a moment, that we see clearly. What will be the speaker’s (writer’s) next revelation? What is “deepest truth” for any of us? How do we recognize it, and do we act upon it, realizing that it may be part of a process which will reveal yet deeper fathoms? The way you have written it evokes so many emotions for me. The question “What do I do?” is so provocative, because it does seem apparent that truth must be acted upon if realized, if for no other reason than to test its verity. And you show how one person’s ‘truth’ may be unacceptable or unreal to another. How do we react to one another out of our separate truths? How can I now be true when I discover you are unlike me, just as you said? Your poem also reveals to me how painful it is to be a separate person. Yes, we do treasure our separateness, but most easily so when within the safety of relationships which we can define and by which we receive our self-definition. And then your final revelation: You said it, you have said it all these years, yet now it snatches at my throat, a suicide sip of unalloyed freedom, released by a cyanide, the kind you simply can’t be sure you really want to find. The “unalloyed freedom” calls so strongly as to be compelling. The cost, the “suicide sip” or death of what was once secure. Your ambivalence to this costly discover is so palpably worded below: And yet you really must take it. Or so it seems. Awareness is a terrible thing, or so it seems, for it asks the bearer to act upon it, without knowing the outcome. Do we really want to know the truth of things, you ask. Thank you for this thoughtful, piercing work. It discomfits me, it makes me want to know whether I want the “unalloyed freedom” that I seem to be seeking in my own life, as the cost is not clear. What are we apart from the relationships which define us at any given point in our lives? Best always, Joanne||2005-11-11 19:27:06|
|Somewhere||marilyn terwilleger||Marilyn: The way you have structured this poem immediately captures my attention, for the esthetics of its form meet its tone superbly well. The beginning and ending lines give boundaries for the intermediate lines, forming a definite container for “somewhere between.” We are suspended within this form with a sense of suffering in the present moment’s enclosure. Your write of your own pain, but readers will identify with this poem because of its authenticity. It strikes a very universal note. Somewhere between ruin and rapture lies my pain I have no rock of refuge You identify the pain as a place, or as a measurement on the scale of experience. In my mind this makes it more bearable, when considered this way, as part of a continuum, and not a permanent state. Your use of language is economical and intense. “I have no rock of refuge” bespeaks such complete vulnerability to the present circumstance. Even as lust for life throbs inside My soul Very effective use of enjambment here! I’m thinking of a quotation now by Martin Luther about the multitude of possible agonies stored up in the body. You show us your experience of this awareness, our existence in the body which contains “insidious seeds of agony” as a truly human state. Insofar as I am aware, only the human species is aware of the potential for greater or future suffering. Your use of sibilance, and especially the sounds of ‘u’ as in “ruin/refuge/lust/insidious/lurking” suggests a kind of container as well as the shape of the letter itself. And the two ‘u’ sounds – both short and deep vowels - at least to me, imply a moan. This poem has a psalm-like quality and is very poignantly written. I only wish that the inspiration for it would become a thing of the past for you, that your suffering will speedily end. It is beautiful and demonstrates great endurance on your part. How we are tried and tested in life at times! You are in my prayers and heart. My best always, Joanne||2005-11-09 18:33:35|
Ah, home at last! I need to hurry to get these comments to you before midnight.
|Crying in a rugby context||Mark Andrew Hislop||Mark: You would be disbelieving if I told you how many times I've read this, thinking I would respond later. And later is finally here. Your strokes of honesty are too bold to be ignored. Why do we get our feelings enwrapped in the shufflings of this site or any other, for that matter? Why does it matter to us? What in hell are we doing, revealing our attention-seeking innards? You ask: "Do you hoist them up like I do over the desert of my life, as if beneath my angst over state-sanctioned violence, or just beneath my angst—period—, lies some miraculous oasis, some holy water grail point to these wacky poetic races, where others can heal their sores, restore their sight and generally call me some kind of fucking genius?" Yes, and, no. And we all suffer, hence we write. Some of us write for other reasons, I think. It never makes sense, when you think about it and you have thought about it and given us the benefit of your thoughts. You show clearly how life is a desert and this makes no difference at all in the scheme of things, as violence continues, and these races have no ultimate ability to affect anything. Under cynicial veil, you don't hide very deeply that your caring and your personal chargin that this contest, any contest, makes no difference whatsoever. But writing does. The spoken and written word with the power to change things - to affect emotions, one way or another - is demonstrated amply here by you. I wish I could write a poem so honest for my own state of being in this moment. This poem has an effect, which is to make me reflect upon the reasons for doing anything. For that alone, congratulations! I think that it will undoubtedly do well in the contest. I like it for reasons that are difficult to explain, except that I admire its grit. And on the other hand, you show deep tenderness. I am very sorry for the loss of your Nanny. It is never easy. Best to you, Joanne||2005-11-01 23:38:46|
|MATRIARCH||Mark D. Kilburn||Mark:
It’s great to see a poem of yours once more. I love this tribute to the woman
who taught you so much, and who must feel much honored by this fine work. It
has the warmth I have come to expect from your poetry, and is beautifully
crafted as well. The nicest feature, in my opinion, is that you write this to
her while she is still living. As a personal aside, one of the things I will
never regret is that I wrote a letter to my father one Valentine’s Day,
telling him all of the things I had stored in my heart. We both cried
when he read it. It was one of those moments in life which you know
at the time is a milestone. Your poem reminds me and others to tell
our loved ones how much we care for them and why. You soften it
with humor, which keeps it from becoming too sentimental? In short,
I really love this poem! More specifically:
"She taught me my table manners,
when to lay my cards on the table
and how to play them,
long before we moved to table mesa."
There is much wit and wordplay with ‘table’
throughout S1. I can’t read this and not smile.
"Even though sometimes I made her,
fit to be tied."
Your warm humor informs this poem. I especially like the last line above.
How many times have we done this to our parents! I can only imagine
the kinds of things you may have done as a child to make her “fit to
be tied.” For me, they were things like bringing toads and lizards into
the house and letting them loose. I won’t go into more, it would be too
embarrassing. Ok, one incident. And that’s it! I made a ‘dummy’ once
of gardening clothes and pillows, and spread the resulting realistic-looking
person across the front lawn, with a spade in her gloves, her face to the
lawn, kerchief askew. Tires screeched in front of our house. I was not
old enough to know better, but a good artist with old clothes. That was
the last time I did anything like that!
"The eternal importance of reading
and the power of thought."
This will no doubt stir memories for other readers of who introduced
them to the love of the written word, and “the power of thought.”
"the religion of compassion, caring
and kindness, that’s still inside me."
That is evident here, and I’m certain that it is a great comfort to her that you
internalized these values.
"She taught me to respect my elders
even though now, I am one." – funny how that happens! ||2005-10-25 20:31:43|
|Autumn In Albion||stephen g skipper||Steve: There's a lot to rave about here! Your title is lyric and lovely. I would read any poem by any author with a title like this one. And you've ventured into the deeper waters of poetry to give your sons an autumn poem. They will be proud, undoubtedly. By 'deeper waters' I suppose I mean the task of doing what has been done so often, by so many other authors. I think the trick, and you have found it, is to do it in a fresh voice. I think this is excellent; the editor in me, the solicitous nit-picker wants to suggest merely reformatting and placing these lines in a slightly different form. If I may be so bold, I would like to send you my suggestions via email. I think you have begun to write in earnest! Then you might feel more free to reject or accept my tampering, since it's only an email and not a formal critique. By way of what shall appear here, I'd like to comment on my favorite lines, many of which I can only regret not writing. "Herne The Hunter heads for home" --the soft, hushed h's and marching cadence, very nice! "Where once verdant trees now shed --the sounds of 'vee', 'ee' and plosive 'd' are grand russet coloured leaves." "Siberian blasts replace gentle mistral breezes." --lovely! "Rising seas lash Alba’s crumbling coasts." --cadence is superb, the hard 'k' sound plus sibilance is ear-pleasing "Proud mountains stand aloof craggy shoulders dusted in snow." --great imagery "Deep still lakes silently keep the Aird Righ’s secrets." -- I'd love to know if I'm reading this in the right accent Keep writing, Steve. You are really going somewhere with this! My best always, Joanne PS Email to follow||2005-10-24 14:47:14|
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