poetry critical

online poetry workshop

Lives on Fire

We walked by rivers,
dreamed of a
thatched house
with black goats,
chickens and
a chimney.
You said the Mexican
landscape looked the same
as California’s.
We tried to travel there
but made it no closer
than Huntington Beach,
where you held me as the
waves pressed in.
Your job took you away
into late nights,
while I slept softly,
wishing you would call.
When we fell apart,
you let me cry alone
until today,
when you called.
We walked by a river;
we spoke of stone houses
with chimneys, children
and black smoke.

13 Oct 06

Rated 8.3 (8.3) by 6 users.
Active (6): 7, 8, 9, 9
Inactive (0): 7, 9

(define the words in this poem)

Add A Comment:
Enter the following text to post as unknown: captcha


there is a lot of heartv here. well done for a good poem.
 — unknown

Thank you for that.  
 — unknown

I like this. I've been known to do that thing you've done with the first and last stanzas there. The only thing I don't like about this is the title. Makes it feel that that poem should be full of passion when really it is smouldering.
 — Ananke

pretty interesting. The other commenter was correct, there is a lot of heart here. And I like the under-stated nature of this poem.
 — callingcard

just noticed the title again, they are right, it is a way to passionate title for this poem.
 — callingcard

Initially I was not sure of the relevence of the title to the poem, and I may be reaching a little in assuming perhaps that it is refering to a housefire, and the possible death of children;

hence the "we spoke of stone houses with chimneys, children and black smoke" compared to "dreamed of a thatched house....chickens"

I don't think its that obvious though, and maybe thats not a good thing. I think it would serve well if you in some way referred to it in the fifth stanza.

Perhaps if you had said when "it" fell apart- it could infer perhaps the relationship and the house; but i don't think this is enough...maybe if you could use some relevence to a fire in this stanza...like burnt out/smouldered...but even that isn't quite apt- do you get me?

That way I think the ending would have more of an impact.

The second to fifth stanzas don't wow me or really interest me in many ways, but the first and last do.
I really like how you've used "black" in the first and last stanzas. And you get away with saying black goats and chickens and chimneys in the first stanza as its a pretty believable conversation someone could have, and the whole way the first stanza juxtaposes with the last is a double surprise.

chickens turn to children, thatched house turns to stone, chimney turns to black smoke...

very good- the best poem i've read in a while.
 — john_daker

What sort of title would you suggest?  (Thanks for the comments.)
 — unknown

I think the title is fine..its just that there is very little reference to fire throughout the poem....however, if you want another title ...how about "embers" or "trial by fire"...everlasting fire...I don't really know...
 — john_daker

The fire refers to this relationship that is always burning, even when they are not together.  They dream it, walk it, keep trying to make it work.  The last meeting indicates that they've grown stronger, speaking of stone, not thatch, childrens instead of pets.  Black smoke is supposed to show that it's a huge fire in them to make their love and life a success, as opposed to white smoke that indicates a burn is nearly all out, that the firemen have done their job and it's only a few glowing spots left burning.

Does that help?  Although I'm intrigued now with the idea of the children burning in a fire - not that it's a good thing but image-wise, it could work.
 — unknown

Ever stanza began with a W or a Y...so I'll give you a hmm...a no...that's not right...a 3...4...6...I'll give you a 7. 7/10
 — Henry

Newest (expand)
Recently Commented (expand)