Anyone dabble in poetry? Although I began writing a bit of verse last spring, I have rarely worked up the nerve to show the results to anyone. I guess I am wondering if anyone would be interested in a creative exchange of constructive criticism. Post your pieces if so! I'm too chicken to post the first one, even though I made the topic. Whoops. ;)
I've written what I would call "lyric" poetry on and off for years (more off than on for the past 5). I'd be happy to comment on anything anyone asks me to.
Don't be shy, Shine! If it'll make you more comfortable, I'll post one of mine as a response to this post. Feel free to comment or discuss as you all see fit! :D (Please note that I am particularly thick-skinned, so I will take any comments, questions, or suggestions in the best possible way.)
Still drunk remembering
how strong you love, Star
and how much I drink warm gasoline,
play at lighting matches--
try to recall, shed
light of my own, on
my own resurrect
bring back but one of heaven's embers--
hot sighs from your just-parted
lips, heavy with the scent of feathers
and clouds too close to earth--
tears upward-falling luminescent
caught in the August-static current
of the world reflected
in the pearl-globe of your eye
dreaming heat and I
recast a summer-child diving
into the river-smoldering-wet
on the brim of your lashes flooding
and in the end,
beautiful (beautifully bright
visible for miles
and miles on this charged, clarion night
where even the clouds pull
back from your voice remembered.
I am as alien here
as lightning playing
across cloudless sky-white
transient scars, cataracts
in my upward-falling view--
I will burn again, Star
as you burned
love as you loved--
ignited by the friction
between smoke and shadows
eddied behind your voice echoed.
Fire spreads like water--
the liquid breath
of the god you swallowed,
the gasoline in our bellies
escaping our pores--
the electric breath
of angels pinned
by single threads of static
growing sharper in the wind--
I burn, liquid
invoking you is flowing:
Your absence reeks of feathers.
Yay, I'm glad to find some poets! Ok, I just have to take the plunge and throw a few out there. I guess I kind of jump around through different styles and meters; I really haven't studied poetry at all, so I am completely clueless as to the formal names of various rhyme schemes and meters. (Except for iambic pentameter, which seems to always pop up in lectures.) Anyways, here are a few attempts:
Spilling still past the brim
A distal draught, a bitter brew
Days of malaise and solitude
Tethered thoughts harangue him
Vested horrors, gather round!
A bludgeoned babe with silent scream
Again the nightmare slays the dream
With seraph corpses raining down
What will it takes to draw a breath
‘Til patience grants the victory
His ally still my enemy
Sickle shine of cherished death
As Heathcliff unto Earnshaw called
So I beseech thee, bones and all,
Upon this empty coverlet
With teared remorse and thick regret.
Again I break the bonds of trust
With wicked words and slurs unjust
To cut you to your deepest depth
Deserving not my fleeting breath.
Now fortune surely leaves me blessed
When others flee my senselessness
You take my head upon your breast
Forgetting words that loved me less.
As you remain throughout the fall
So love me sweetly, bones and all.
No clarity draws through mongrel veins
No memories sustaining
Wisdom of ruptured ancestral chain
In bygone past remaining
No lucid day is born of clouds
No evident course ahead
From barren trails, to which are bound
Brilliant tears that ancients bled
Forward myriad of alternates
Risen from past multitudes
Oblivion for the fortunate
Who tolerate this longitude
I'm a terrible loser for not having commented yet -- I'm sorry, I've just been really busy and/or drunk since you posted. Today isn't looking any less busy (or sober), but I will comment sometime tomorrow if not later today. :D
Shine, you definitely have excellent control of meter, diction, and rhyme. As you may have noticed from my pieces, I don't typically work in traditional forms or meters, so it's a little more difficult for me to appraise poems that are written in form – I realize that part of the challenge for someone working in form/meter/rhyme is to make best use of externally-mandated constraints, however, since I’m not seeped in the tradition, so to speak, I’m an outsider talking in. I'll do my best, though.
As far as these three poems, Diaspora is my favorite (I’ll only be commenting on that one for the time being, the other two I’ll comment on at a later time).
The purpose and images are (to me, at least) clearest, and the word choice takes turns being painfully descriptive ("mongrel veins") to refreshingly unexpected ("longitude"). I notice a subtle antithesis in this piece: there is, on the one side, a set of images and words which imply length (longitude, forward, trails, course, chain, vein) and another set that implies dispersal (oblivion, multitudes, myriad, clouds). I think this antithesis is key: for any people who have suffered a Diaspora, there is the painful break between the long line of history, culture, and even genetics reaching into the past and the divergent streams/dispersal of the people of the present leading into an increasingly oblivion-like future.
Some may take offense to this poem (or, more accurately, their interpretation of it) as it could be read as an argument against "multiculturalism" (i.e., the negative implications of "mongrel veins" and such); however, I see it as working from within a certain perspective: it's not arguing against the "myriad of alternates" but lamenting what is lost in these moments ("ruptured ancestral chain"). Coming from a displaced culture myself (my family came from Cuba one generation ago), I have what’s called second-hand memory: even though Cubans do not comprise one “race” or “ethnicity” or religious group, there is a very strong sense of shared history, shared culture, and shared difficulties which, for Cuban-Americans of my father’s and grandmother’s generation, is being painfully lost because of our removal from the island. On the off chance that someone does interpret this piece poorly, I would recommend reminding them of the title: it implies a forced removal from one's home geography-culture-historical moment, not multiculturalism in the modern sense of willing intermingling.
I bring this up because while the term “Diaspora” traditionally refers to Jewish history, it is not limited to it. So some readers may immediately assume that you are speaking strictly about Jewish history or making a comment on it, which may shade their reading. However, other than the title I don’t notice any specific allusions to Jewish history or religion, which strongly implies to me that the poem isn’t necessarily talking about the Jewish Diaspora but of Diasporas in general – an experience that is quite wide-spread in this world (ironically, mostly thanks to religion).
Again, since I don't work in form or rhyme, I can't say whether a poetry journal would consider this a good piece. For what my opinion is worth, I think it's a great piece and that it does a good job of getting a message across strongly given the formal constraints on it. I do have a couple of small suggestions: First, the phrase "bygone past" is redundant and the line it appears in, overall, doesn’t seem to add much meaning to the stanza as a whole. I’m wondering if this line might be more effective if you find a way of returning to or commenting on the image of the chain from the previous line: so far the image is a positive one (links to the past), but you may be able to foreshadow the complex stance you take in the last stanza (that those who are obliterated are the fortunate ones).
Second, the word "myriad" is of those "poetic" words that we only ever use in poetry (I say that though I'm sure somewhere in my writing I've used it too) – I don’t know if there’s another word you can use that will be less “frou-frou” or carry a more appropriate meaning, or if there are other changes you could make to the poem to increase the appropriateness of the word (“myriad” means both “many” and “ten thousand” – could this be a potentially significant number in the poem as a whole?).
My last suggestion (which I don’t know is a tenable one because I’m not sure if your form is limited to 3 stanzas) would be to make the middle stanza into two separate ones – the first line, with its images of days and clouds, could introduce an entire stanza using those kinds of images (for some reason, I’m thinking of navigation – the use of stars one is familiar with to guide life and travel and how moving away from home creates a new sky) while the last 3 lines all focus on the image of roads and trails (with the last line implying that tears were shed both building the roads and seeing the lines of history abandoned).
I know I’ve written a lot here (that’s what you get for asking for comments! ;) but I’d like to hear what you think when you have the chance. If I have misinterpreted at some point, please let me know so I can take a second look. And thanks for sharing! :)