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letter #2,939

It is so damn hot today, and every
unhappy woman walking downtown
in sunglasses and uncomfortable shoes
looks like you,
and I wonder if you might have
gotten married in Las Vegas again,
lost another baby
or gone back to Indiana,
                                      but then
what little I've achieved since
would seem such a weak greeting
were we to trip over each other's feet
and exchange spiked pleasantries:
we might mention a few new lovers found and lost,
comment on the same old cigarette jones which has
seriously begun to kick my ass,
          and, of course, my crippled poems.
Every year our imaginary daughter
gets taller, and I hope
she never meets a boy like me
when the asphalt blisters on days like these,
when the cats sweat under porches
and birds bake in the trees.

19 Aug 06

Rated 8.6 (8) by 21 users.
Active (21): 1, 1, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Inactive (13): 2, 2, 4, 5, 5, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10

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I like the slant rhymes and assonance. I like the spacing in 8-9.

Why is jones capitalized in l. 15?

l. 12-13 feel a little bit overlong... maybe remove "on the sidewalk"? Thus revealing the assonance between feet and pleasanTREES?

I was shocked (shocked!) by ending a line with "has" -- I believe that violates a rule of proper line breaks ;-) -- until I saw the next line ended with "ass." So the assonance (ahem) makes it ok.

Does the pavement really blister (l. 21)? Is there a more accurate word? I've seen pavement bake, even steam, but never actually blister from heat.

Do you hope that she never meets a boy like you on Sundays like these (but other times it would be ok), or do you hope, on Sundays like these (but not at other times) that she never meets a boy like you (at any time)? Eh, don't bother rewriting, I like the confusion.

This is powerful, esp. l. 18-19. Good work.
 — leukothea

     leukothea, thanks for the close read and the comments.
    I altered line 21 to read "asphalt blisters..." instead of "pavement blisters."  It may still be a bit sketchy for some readers, but I'm guessing that many would associate "pavement" with concrete, and that a fair amount would better associate "asphalt" with the tar that bubbles up on long, hot days.
    I wasn't quite sure how readers would take "cigarette Jones" in line 15; I've never had to consider whether or not "jones" (meaning addiction, of course) comes from someone's proper name.  When I was putting this into the computer, I thought that an uncapitalized "jones" might throw some readers off, and even looking at it now like that makes me think it means something in Spanish, LOL, pronounced "ho-NAYS," but I may change it after a while.
    I really struggled with the line breaks in 12-13, "were we to trip over each other's feet/and exchange spiked pleasantries on the sidewalk."  I'm prone to keep "on the sidewalk" for the sake of the downtown setting and rhyme of "lost" (14), but I agree it is chunky.  I'll keep staring at it, I promise.
     Thanks especially for your comments on the final stanza.  It is hard to explain, but in a lot of ways it was frightening to write.  Some day I might decide to blue-pencil "on Sundays like these," but as you're okay with the slight confusion, I'll keep it for now; I like the sound.
    Thanks again, leukothea.  You're a peach.
 — mikkirat

i'm struck by the formality of "interim," though maybe that's what you're going for. it's very lovely, and i wouldn't change a thing. great point of view.
 — livella

I find no such confusion relating to 'on sundays like these', as it seems more to refer to the type of day it was, rather than directly relating to when or when you did not hope your fictional daughter would never meet a boy like you.

Boy, that's a mouthful.

But no, no particular confusion; the line seems to roll in a sortof languid lazy-afternoon's-reminiscence that fits the poem like a glove, and your choice of language is impeccable, though I agree with the suggestion that interim feels a mite out of place. I can see where that might hook up with the end of 9, though, continuing that loose rhyme that you've got going.

Overall, a beautiful piece.
 — WindingRhyme

For asphalt blisters, I defer to your greater knowledge of heat and hot places. I'm living in cool, rainy Seattle, and even though my childhood was spent in Minnesota, which can get pretty hot in the summers, I've never seen tar actually bubbling with heat.

For the word "jones" (lower-cased), see http://dict ionary.reference.com/browse/jones

For a more thorough exploration of jones/Jones, including origin, see htt p://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=jones
...keeping in mind that this is a user-constructed dictionary, so there are a lot of duplicate or garbage entries.
 — leukothea

Hey there mikki,

Line 10 -“Interim” somehow sounds very technical, consider replacing interim with “gap” it gives two connotations: a break in continuity and also refers to a breach, a rift, a lack of balance which seems to be what the speaker is expressing regarding his lull from this woman’s absence.
Line 13 - I’m unsure about the word choice “spiked” as a descriptor, does the speaker imply a cutting (as in sarcastic), bitter or wounded exchange? The definition of spiked as an adjective is limited to the literal quality of being sharp.
Line 17 - the speaker doesn’t seem to have moved on from this failed relationship and it may reflect in his work, crippled seems too harsh, the speaker doesn’t sound like he’s devastated by her absence but more like stuck, here’s some alternatives: underdeveloped/inadequate/stunted/ flawed/imperfect
Line 7 - I had a problem with this line, the voice sounds very nonchalant when wondering about a possible miscarriage, I also feel that this detail is very important to the piece since you talk about an imaginary daughter in the last stanza, so by placing this line in between the lines of getting married and moving back it loses credibility. My suggestion is to either start with that detail on line 6 or end with it on line 8.
Last consideration, I really love the last two lines but think about this: what is the relevance of the last two lines with regards to the rest of the poem? Is the intention to leave the reader with those images of a sweltering day or do you want to convey the mood of the speaker by way of these images? If you’re intention was the 1st, then leave it as is but if it’s the 2nd, then find verbs that will carry the mood: eg cats tarry under porches/birds brood in the trees ßthese are examples of course, you’ll probably find better suited words to fit the speaker’s mood.

enough said about the critique, I really enjoyed reading your piece, the line breaks are nicely down and the piece has a good rhythm. I like the way you handle such a sad subject, it’s very honest and heartfelt. Great poem from a great poet. thanx for sharing . . . ;-)
 — redsky

     Thanks, folks; I have a few edits now, some I'm sure of, some which I'm going to sit with a bit and evaluate, which might revert back.  I apologize for not getting back to this sooner, the fall semester has started and life will be a bit unsettled for a while.
    leukothea -- thanks again, I de-capped "Jones" and deleted "on the sidewalk" from line 13, and that had a ripple-effect, which I'll note later.
    livella, thanks -- I changed "interim" to "since," but I'm not sure I like that so much.  I like the distance/formality to a certain extent -- the speaker is distant from the ex- after all -- and redsky, I also get the sense that interim implies a bit of continuity as opposed to a break; I considered "gap" and "meantime" as well, but I made some alterations to lines 14-17 which draw the speaker and the "unhappy woman" closer, so the formality of "interim" would be more pronounced if I left it.
    WindingRhyme, thanks; I've just a minor tweak in the final stanza ("days" in place of "Sundays" line 21), I'm just glad it works for you.
    redsky, thank you so much for your comments; you're lovely.  This is a tough poem to edit, and even post.  I'm keeping the last two lines, as my intention was the first you mentioned, to leave the reader with the image of the day.  In this poem I may be outsmarting myself a bit, but I want to stress setting more than mood here.  Lines 7, 18-20, are emotional dynamite, but the mood is more the futility of such considerations, how strangely pedestrian the world really is; for all the personal tragedy which exists, life goes on, and every day is normal.  I did look a long time at the placement of line 7 ("lost another baby"), but neither option seemed stronger.
    I'll continue to look at line 17, "my crippled poems."  That slight alteration from "more crippled poems" came about because of the cascade effect of deleting "on the sidewalk" in line 13.  It originally read

      and exchange spiked pleasantries on the sidewalk:  
      a few new lovers found and lost,  
      the same old cigarette jones which has
      seriously begun to kick my ass,  
          and, of course, more crippled poems

and now reads

      and exchange spiked pleasantries:  
      we might mention few new lovers found and lost,  
      comment on the same old cigarette jones which has  
      seriously begun to kick my ass,  
          and, of course, my crippled poems

somehow deleting "on the sidewalk" made the following line less about the setting and narrator and more about the "pleasantries," thus the edit which engages the two of them (narrator and ex-).
    Urrg, I meant to get to "Of Guilt and Other Battles" this morning, but have run out of time.  Thanks again for your help; you're the best.
 — mikkirat

mikki, it seems that you write with such depth and
each of your poems has such
a tragic undercurrent that
it seems impossible you're not writing without experience.

having said that, i'm
glad you've chosen to share this with us,
the mangled pc community.

as always, i'm very fond of your rhyme,
the way that you slant your words into phrases
that work together.  (such as "shoes" in l3
finding its counterpart in "looks like you" in l4,
or at least that's how i hear it.)

mm.  let me rewind a little bit.
your first damn line IS SO DAMN HOT.
maybe one of the strongest openings to any pome
i've read in a very long time.

up-and-coming poets should have to look at your lines 8 - 10.
perfect example of how indentation/pauses/white space
should be utilized.
(also, again in lines 16 and 17.  marvelous.)

i should also mention that the second stanza hits me in the gut.

20 - 21 are interesting.  your use of the word "when" implies that
the narrator began his troubles on the same type of day that he
is reminded of.  sort of like a cycle.  haha.  that didn't make any sense.

so anyway--mikki, as always, lovely work.

 — midare

Mikki, I forgot to ask whether there was any significance to the number 2,939, or whether it merely represented a very large number (as I suspect).

Watch out, or you will be asked to write 2,938 more.

I like the revisions. I admire people who can revise their work; I have a really hard time doing it. For me it often seems better to just throw the whole thing out and write something fresh.

Oh, and I like "spiked pleasantries" because I know exactly what you mean, and also because the word "spiked" reminds me of the uncomfortable (spiked?) shoes in l. 3.
 — leukothea

     midare, thanks.  Undercurrents, hmm... well, I'll just say this is one of the poems that I seriously debated posting on PC.  Journals are one thing, as is my webpage (which has even my throw-away poems on it), but somehow after two years here, some poems cut too close.  I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.
    Indeed, I'm a bit of a freak for internal rhyme, hard, slant and soft.  While I wouldn't want to insinuate that that moving from formalist, end-rhymed poetry to free verse is "natural" or "right," I do credit countless hours working on end-rhyme with those elements appearing in my free verse.  I even count "every/(un)happy" and "(un)happy/(sun)glasses" in the soft/slant category.  The downside is, of course, that I now find critiquing formalist poetry very difficult.  Thanks again for your visit, and your close read.

    leukothea -- I love those brown pies of yours, and am glad the revisions sit well.  There are times when I feel a poem comes fully-formed from my pen, but I would see no point in posting if I felt closed to suggestions.  Revision is tough, indeed: it feels like surgery, and deleting an entire line (or three) does feel like pulling teeth, I know.  
    As to the title, well; it isn't random, but neither are there 2,938 others sitting around.  I know this is only half an answer, but there were (are) 2,939 days between this poem and July 27th, 1998.  I'm sure you can guess the rest, but if you don't like guessing, e-mail me and I'll go into detail.  Thanks again for visiting.
 — mikkirat

my favorites list is quickly filling up... after i promised myself i wouldn't add *too* many to it.  :0
 — midare

Oh, I absolutely adore this poem.  It has such a great rhythm.  Excellent work.
 — colormehappy

Thanks, colormehappy.  You're a gem.
 — mikkirat

This sounds so real, so authentic, like the thoughts in your head threw themselves down onto the page.  Line 18 is a killer.  
 — Isabelle5

it describes cuba really good...
do you live there?
 — baby_gurl

wow, a fav.. thanks.
 — oracle

The format on the page and the way it made my eyes move about the screen as if taking a different stance or position I found fascinating. 'Spiked pleasantries,' though I've seen it phrased similarly in other writing never fails to hit the spot. The imaginary daughter quite moved me and gave the poem its fantastic dénouement - as if there is a parallel world where you and she did make the relationship last - reminded me a bit of the premise behind 'The Time Traveller's Wife.' I also fell for the poor, boiling animals - I imagined some poor perspiring sparrow cooking away amongst the leaves. It has that beautiful idle aimless melancholy that desultory summer moments bring - tone - wonderful, voice - cynical yet sensitive. i love it.
 — opal

^^ that's what i meant by wow!  especially re the imaginery daughter..
 — oracle

imaginary daughters & spiked pleasantries. your poems are definitely not crippled :)
 — modern_nomad

     Isabelle, thanks; somehow I thought you'd find the final staza poignant.
    baby_gurl, thanks, but no, I don't live in Cuba.  I've been there (Guantanamo Bay) but that wasn't exactly a relaxed moment :(
    oracle, modern_nomad, thanks as well.  I'm pretty happy with this poem.
    opal, thanks so much for the close read.  Most of us have engaged 'spiked pleasantries' every now and then; God, life can be sour sometimes, LOL, and by the bye, I think a line in your critique is worthy of being bronzed: "that beautiful idle aimless melancholy that desultory summer moments bring" is a jopy to read in and of itself.
    Thanks again,
 — mikkirat

i love it :)
 — FrayedSkirt

Perfect; a favorite.
 — MEB

I found this to be interesting. It would of pleased me more if you would of found another way to express yourself in Line 1 with the use of “damn hot today”
Line 16 in my opinion should be rephrased.
Other then that I did enjoy the subject. It almost reminds me of someone who would kill that person to make past events eternal.
 — XxArsonxX

xxArson, leave it to you to wish there had been death...hahaha
 — Isabelle5

     Thanks, guys.  I wondered about line 16, "seriously begun to kick my ass," but am pretty solid on keeping the vernacular/conversational tone there.
 — mikkirat

exchange spiked pleasantries... gotta love that!
 — NeighborDi

Haha I sometimes cant help myself from looking for the morbid sides of life.
 — XxArsonxX

"...and birds bake in trees..." WHAT a beautiful ending to such a POWERFUL and beautiful poem!  Absolutely awesome!  Here's lookin' at the #1 spot with a "10."
 — starr

p.s.  I HAD TO DROP BY one more time because this is soooooooo good.  This time, I heard a torch song from L18 on.  Congratulations on the #1 spot again.  This is beautiful writing.  Thanks for the gift of reading it.  Peaceout.
 — starr

almost chopped prose. and why does everyone have to cuss?
 — unknown

love this.
 — inutile

this is one of the few poems I've read on this site that has actually done anything to me. it is lush with insight.
 — wanderlusted

Look who's #1 on top rated now, it's so deserving . . . hope ur doing well and writing lots more poems   ;-)
 — redsky

another poem where animals or nature are used to create a dramatic ending. it s getting to be a stale technique
 — unknown

I really liked this poem. reminds me of my family :(
 — aholm

i agree with unknown

the ending of your poems are pretty predictable. always emphasizing some residual dissonance by way of nature or animal or insect etc
 — unknown

brilliant. in love with this one.
 — houseofcards

Oh my fucking god.
 — OKcomputer

this has made me cry.
there was something significant i wanted to say about you, mikki, but i don't remember. you are beautiful.
 — OKcomputer

ah yes, mikki. what can I say that hasn't already been said? this one is great. more poems please.
 — theair

this is great you have catched it
 — momo

you shouldn't use bad words because my CHILD just read THAT!!!!
 — unknown

there is not a whole lot for me to say, that han't been mentioned about this.
i could nitpick, but there is not much to nit or pick. practically nothing. the break in lines8/9 are a bit off-putting, but i think that be more of a problrm with pc, than you.

after that point, this is practically flawless. especially the last six lines.

glow on.
 — onklcrispy

I know it’s often not advisable to start or end a line with “and”, but your first line is interesting enough to allow it to serve as a cliffhanger.  And it’s such a natural place to pause when reading aloud. While I was at it I couldn’t resist seeing what a different order might look like—not saying my way is better.

It’s so damn how today, and
every unhappy woman in sunglasses
and uncomfortable shoes walking downtown
looks like you, and I wonder
if you might have gotten married
in Las Vegas again,

Regardless, lines 6 through 8 (well, maybe make that 10) twisted my gut.  Very well done.

If I hadn’t already cheated—looked to see who the author is—I would think that too little thought was put into the break between 15 and 16.  But it’s you, so I’ll just admit that I don’t get it.  I think the flow would benefit from breaking after “jones”.

In 16, consider putting “seriously” in front of “kick”.

I really like the crippled poems mention.

And the ending.

I remain a steadfast admirer of your work.
 — unknown

The idea is good. The beginning and end are good. I feel like the end isn't any sort of conclusion, though.
The beginning makes me smile.
 — silentscream

Thanks for the comments.  I'm sorry I've been missing out on PC recently, life's just been a bit out of hand.  I've been gathering acorns as autumn progresses, and miss reading & critiquing.  Soon, though, soon enough I'll have more time and energy.  Until then, thanks again.
 — mikkirat

I can't wait for letter #2,940. This was phenominal! 8/10
 — Henry

one of the best poems i ever read. just so beautiful.
 — unknown

The 18th and 19th lines, for me, conveyed the most emotion.

This is awesome. By far the best thing I've read on this site.
 — janejones

i really really enjoyed this...the last stanza especially....wow wow wow  :)
 — GreenDreams

one of the best poems i've ever read. thanks.
 — meghanmidget

one word: humbled
 — theair

wow, i don't know what else to say! reading poems is quite a new thing to me, i think i never liked them cause of the types of poem they made me learn by heart at school. but this i really like, i have short flashbacks as i read it, and i can feel so much..missing, loss feeling. fantastic.
 — photobooth

very nice. what stood out to me in this poem was the honesty and how the reader could relate to this. job well done. my only suggestion is to possibly strengthen your ending.
 — lanezfairy

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