#1
The Idea of God; Attic Bats; Sleeping in the Living Room, Midwinter
The lights are on in the kitchen, grandmother’s here,
the family is cooking and talking and watching television
in the other room
but the living room is near dark,
snow resting cold against the window panes, the sofa
warm only where I lie, huddled with throw pillows,
the ornaments glistening between
strung lights
It’s been so long since I’ve seen you
S., has the road reminded you of me
the west coast,
deserts and redwood trees
perfect days of driving towards
destinations that don’t mean much of anything.
There is a house I go to
that I’ve never been in
there is a bay window in the front, the kitchen nearby,
it faces west, a piano against the opposite wall
it is always sunset and the alcoves
hold only the faintest pools of light
there are other houses near
there isn’t much of a view
it’s not my dream house but it’s
the one I dream about.
The light is always yellow.
Without this hope
for you I am darkness, subversion
out of things to say
and straining to speak,
speaking – if only of this one passing day—
it’s been so long since I’ve loved anything.

A man out here was killed by
his 3 kids for what he did to
them when they were little,
and that’s how it is,
your father was lost at sea,
half-orphan, and then something
happens also to your mother.
Life and death are not equal,
and our days are not the same,
your name follows me in mid air
to the backwoods where
mine goes unspoken
and unheard for days on end.
Give it time, it’s nearly November
and another departure looms,
taking me farther still
from you.
A siren banshees down the county roads
far from cities and ordinary crime
and for a moment I think I am the last person
to know emergency.
Well,
no. Now, no—
what a stupid thing to think. I hardly know
anything—the siren called
and the dogs lit up the underbrush,
I only know it has to be bad
for them to be coming out here.
Even that night when I came home
I barely understood,
the neighbor in the driveway, phone in hand,
the police closing in.
We could have been anybody
standing there, without available
identities, figures in the dark,
circumstantial acquaintances,
barren and volatile
I wanted to cry but sometimes can’t
think to feel much of anything
while she still hasn’t come back—

How much does it matter
that I can remember this?
That I told you this?
You sat where I’m sitting,
you were wearing my clothes,
I liked that, morning came to the
mountains and I let you go
to cliffs, the plains, yuha desert, the
end of the world, nothing on all
sides, the checkpoint up ahead, Interstate 8, you
4,000 feet above San Diego,
I thought I wasn’t in love
but how does one know?
It is Winter. I am 15. the living room
is so cold, so white with furniture
and soft carpet, plates set out for dinner, the cold
through the walls, the cool cloth of the sofa, a dream of someone
I couldn’t contain even in imagination or in words
and now I’ve met you and I can’t explain you at all
nor where we stand in time, near winter, or was it winter? Pittsburgh
the old jail, the ice rink below skyscrapers
black glass of the glass company,
a parking garage, feigned warmth
passing the hotel bars
wondering if I’d ever spend New Years
alone, proud on one end and buried in
shame on the other, atlantic,
with no hope for refuge, point park, the chill of
the indistinguishable black river, the lumbering current,
the idea of two taken by it,
parallel for more than just a little while
long enough for parallel to become something
less certain, the distance extinguishable
and ambiguous,
and should tomorrow arrive
without you here
or should it arrive at all
I will remind myself of you,
of the vanishing lives of
this country, of selfish instances
of regret, of the sound of gravel
underfoot, broken glass, the front door
broken in, the backdoor left ajar
how much I needed nothing then
and how much I fear that now,
midwinter, disdainful miles over water
northern lights over lattitudes I’ve never
seen, snow lining the runway,
the aquarium of
the terminal, the roller wheels on carpet,
on tile, half hearted
stampede of the astonished, the mundane
normalcy of our state, of Virginia of
Pennsylvania, of a coast comprised
of the space between counted things,
houses, sidestreets, strip malls, miles of would-be forests,
actual forests, farmland and the old mountains,
motorcycle gangs charging from Indiana
to New Jersey, voices in the next room,
weird sex in the bathroom, loneliness, cleaning up
after parties for what and whom and what—
it’s nearly empty. Sometimes
I drive on I95 and see nobody. Sometimes
the pine groves are the only sign of color in the hills and
sometimes
the rain droplets glow of traffic signals,
like a mess of strung lights overlaid on strip malls
endless road work
and I’m not sure how old I am or how I got here
or when we’ll meet again, but we exist between arbitrary destinations,
circling some sense of time I have lost hold of, and
cycling through rotaries of understanding and purposes
that might line up with one another for a while or forever
or not at all, and so on this page we find ourselves apart, and I find myself
awakening to the cold air behind the automated doors
that lead to nighttime, orange clouds ballooning with the visual imprint of infrastructure,
fields of organized machinery fenced in by technological companies,
their floating logos and a familiar climate in an unfamiliar night
where nothing is certain and I don’t know the first thing about what happens next.

This, though,
is what I dreamed of
while I was away, us,
returning to this complicated
system of compounded self-determination
from one of simply travelling between places that
in one sense don’t seem to mean much of anything
and in another make up the whole of our lives,
and now when I start my
car, cleaned of snow,
cold only for the loneliness
of here, I smile for the tollbooth camera,
at the highways of the east coast, smile
if only because you are near.
Anatomy Anatomy
Whale Blue Review

Park that car
Drop that phone
Sleep on the floor
Dream about me
#3
Obviously this is the product from the competition forum but that shouldn't factor into my judgement as I know us at S&L pride ourselves on the tortured artist character so I can imagine plenty of the things I've critiqued on here before have been written under the influence.

I don't much feedback on others anymore because there is a sense that I often say the same things - probably because I've regressed as a critic but also because there's a sort of style of writing poetry here everyone seems to enjoy but no-one dare break free from. Though the whole idea of tough love on these forums seems to have disappeared, which is sad.

For me Jimi this needs an obvious edit, self-discipline jobby if you're serious about finishing it as a piece. If it's a flash in the pan then obviously no worries but about halfway through I could tell I was going nowhere. It reeks of the sort of writing where every single image has to have some grandstanding idea of truth or beauty. There's nothing that totally ties it together for me, it rambles, it dips in and out of memories or attempts to add one "deep" thought on top of another. You've probably got the seeds for a bunch of different pieces here but instead of planting one and growing it you've just chucked me the bag of seeds and asked me to grow one myself.

I also feel poetry that pays no attention to sonics is missing a trick. I'm not asking you to rhyme - I would have eight years ago, ha - but there should be some aural pleasures for me in the reading or listening to poetry. I've read academic texts this week that have more verve than this . This is like taking me for a country walk but forcing ear plugs on me - how can I enjoy a walk through the forest without the sound of birds or wind etc? The beach isn't the same without the waves crashing into the shore. I have some senses and I'd like for you to attempt to engage with them.

Usually I'd give myself the disclaimer "oh, but it's better than most other things so gd jb yolo", but that doesn't help anyone. You've built a grand mansion but you've forgotten the aesthetics; it's got nineteen bathrooms and secret underground corridors but the outside looks like a council estate. It's got all the trappings of a heartfelt, detailed, lovingly written late-night drunken text to the girl you've loved for several years that actually looks a little bit rapey the morning after.

Which I guess might be an adequate metaphor. Not saying this is rapey.

You're structure actually gave this some readability although I'd have tried to use the breaks and enjambment more effectively - give them some other reason than breaking the narrative up. As I said, there were some nice lines and ideas but they need their own place to breath and grow.

Have a good day
#4
Good and honest review there Jammy. Put in(see what i did there?) the aesthetics and you would have one helluvah story. Although I like it for what it is. Praising memories in such a fantastical manner, also probs for the readability. I think it worked really well in some places, To write this while drunk...on paper. I am jealus.
#5
Wow, what a wonderful piece to come back to. I read it twice, slowly, like a cool drink on a warm night in a distant land. The part

A man out here was killed by

his 3 kids for what he did to
them when they were little,
and that’s how it is,
your father was lost at sea,

half-orphan, and then something
happens also to your mother.

Is great for some reason I can't entirely articulate; the particular words you used turned something banal into a passage that sings.

It does ramble, as drunken writing tends to, and you could surely make some improvements, perhaps remove a few lines here and there, but the basis remains golden. You clearly wrote something very personal. I can feel your pain.


circumstantial acquaintances
kill all humans
#6
oh my god how are you???

more full reply will be amended, but i just had to say something. stay a while/connect outside of ug if not?
Anatomy Anatomy
Whale Blue Review

Park that car
Drop that phone
Sleep on the floor
Dream about me
#7
Quote by jiminizzle
oh my god how are you???

more full reply will be amended, but i just had to say something. stay a while/connect outside of ug if not?
oh my god i am quite well, and that much better for reading the things you lovely people write once again. i shall probably stick around for some time.
kill all humans
#8
^makes me very happy to hear

Quote by Jammydude44
Obviously this is the product from the competition forum but that shouldn't factor into my judgement as I know us at S&L pride ourselves on the tortured artist character so I can imagine plenty of the things I've critiqued on here before have been written under the influence.

I don't much feedback on others anymore because there is a sense that I often say the same things - probably because I've regressed as a critic but also because there's a sort of style of writing poetry here everyone seems to enjoy but no-one dare break free from. Though the whole idea of tough love on these forums seems to have disappeared, which is sad.

For me Jimi this needs an obvious edit, self-discipline jobby if you're serious about finishing it as a piece. If it's a flash in the pan then obviously no worries but about halfway through I could tell I was going nowhere. It reeks of the sort of writing where every single image has to have some grandstanding idea of truth or beauty. There's nothing that totally ties it together for me, it rambles, it dips in and out of memories or attempts to add one "deep" thought on top of another. You've probably got the seeds for a bunch of different pieces here but instead of planting one and growing it you've just chucked me the bag of seeds and asked me to grow one myself.

I also feel poetry that pays no attention to sonics is missing a trick. I'm not asking you to rhyme - I would have eight years ago, ha - but there should be some aural pleasures for me in the reading or listening to poetry. I've read academic texts this week that have more verve than this . This is like taking me for a country walk but forcing ear plugs on me - how can I enjoy a walk through the forest without the sound of birds or wind etc? The beach isn't the same without the waves crashing into the shore. I have some senses and I'd like for you to attempt to engage with them.

Usually I'd give myself the disclaimer "oh, but it's better than most other things so gd jb yolo", but that doesn't help anyone. You've built a grand mansion but you've forgotten the aesthetics; it's got nineteen bathrooms and secret underground corridors but the outside looks like a council estate. It's got all the trappings of a heartfelt, detailed, lovingly written late-night drunken text to the girl you've loved for several years that actually looks a little bit rapey the morning after.

Which I guess might be an adequate metaphor. Not saying this is rapey.

You're structure actually gave this some readability although I'd have tried to use the breaks and enjambment more effectively - give them some other reason than breaking the narrative up. As I said, there were some nice lines and ideas but they need their own place to breath and grow.

Have a good day


first of all, thank you very much for the effort and well thought out critique (and the kick in the ass). i appreciate that very much and will give your latest a good read soon.

i think, yes, this isn't really reined in on anything at all. just some images and moments that i get off on. so maybe i'll draw from this in the future and take what i like from it (i guess i posted something from the middle of this separately a little while ago), or maybe not. i'm aware that you're not just trashing everything in here since you suggest some things for editing/finishing it, and there are some things i am happy with about it, but even those sometimes just don't translate into much more than what they already are, so i do think this is probably is a good bit fractal and not very well composed.

I will say this "there's a sort of style of writing poetry here everyone seems to enjoy but no-one dare break free from," while being broadly accurate, isn't totally a damning thing, I think. Sure, it's rare and nice to see something all that different here, but there have been plenty of reasonably unique voices over the years, many of which are appreciated for what they did that was special, even if the aesthetic leans towards a certain center. but don't many great writing communities (or movements, even) grow from a mutual appreciation for some or another facet of craft? Isn't that where the bond starts, or, in the early phases, leads to? Surely, many people have grown from the bare bones styles a lot of us started out posting here. I know I look at my early stuff on here and then see what I have done in this past year, and it's vastly more mature (not this piece specifically--i still post a lot raw stuff on here) and while without a doubt stemming from what people here found interesting (even when pieces were maybe not that great, i've seen and contributed plenty to the appreciation of style that I enjoyed, however unrefined that may be) I think a lot of writers here have gone somewhere worth going with their writing and gained some subtlety and with some good critiques (like yours) have/could become pretty good, not just because they write in a style that i like, but because they write good poems. While over some stretches of time, a lot of people maybe grew inwards towards this communal aesthetic, there have been some brilliant and outward motion as well. It's relatively a pretty young group that has posted here, and I think a lot of people will (or have) become quite good with any significant experience reading stuff that is different from what we have here. So I don't disagree--there rarely is much injection of radicalism that could be called "breaking free," but to be trite, I think I have seen some calm, gradual instances of removing the "bonds" and setting them down. Your point still stands, that experimentation is healthy and this shows little of it, but I just wanted to comment on that a little bit. Maybe this is something of an amalgamation of stylistic tricks I've acquired here, but I don't think that means it can't be headed somewhere totally different in time.


and I must say before I caught this
Not saying this is rapey.

i was about to just give up though either i was just totally a lost cause and grossly missing something, or we were just on a different page entirely. glad that's not the case, and i appreciate a good critique, and am taking a lot away from this. (I've intentionally started back on the sonics train since i first read it). you're always good for one
Anatomy Anatomy
Whale Blue Review

Park that car
Drop that phone
Sleep on the floor
Dream about me
Last edited by jiminizzle at Mar 23, 2014,
#9
I don't post very often so I tend to digress a little when I do. I also tend to poke the bear in my critiques because otherwise no-one gets anywhere. Seems like you got both those barrels from me this time Thanks for the return Jimi