poetry critical

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My desire is rain
and my resolve
an aging sidewalk.
Liquid fingers tip, tap
pull and press
into cracks
through my foundation
and pool
in my gutter adjacent.
Confronted by reflection,
I can no longer ignore
that I am alone.

28 Dec 06

Rated 7.5 (7.5) by 2 users.
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Nice poem, reminds me not to wait too long.
 — lovife

It's a nice thought. I had to read it over for quite some time before it really struck me, and then think it over for longer before it seemed true. But then, I am a dull and simple lad.

I think l4 is unnecessary. It's already implied in l3 and in a piece this short, anything superfluous is damaging.

Also, maybe a different word choice than "sidewalk" in l2 would help? You're really talking about the substance of the walk, not the walk. Concrete? Pavement? Asphalt?

Anyway, well done. Welcome to the site, I hope you'll enjoy it.
 — dandy

gr8 poem... wish i could write like that
 — razorkissed

mm, instead of saying "desires are like rain", why not say "desires are rain" or "desires rain down" or something a lot better.

similies are good, but metaphores are sometimes stronger.
 — inutile

i like the first line a lot more now. since there is a lack of punctuation elsewhere, why not remove the single comma at the end?
 — inutile

The period you mean? I thought it gave the last line some extra finality.
 — rocket

ha, yes i meant the period.

if you like it, leave it. it's your poem, i am just offering a single opinion.
 — inutile

I like the ambiguity of this. Unsure whether or not you intended for it but my interpretation of this was pretty phallic.
 — stateofmind

The schema used in stanza one creates an image which unfortunately remains abstract to the reader due to inherent flaws which detract from the strength of the metaphor.

In L1 we assimilate an image of rain: cloudy skies, descending water, umbrellas, puddles and the like, in the absence of a more descriptive term such as showers which would imply fleeting, the opposite if drizzle were chosen or storm which would add power to the image,  we must settle for some hybrid of each. The task is then to map these to your overly vague and unspecified ‘desires’: wishes longings. In this the metaphor falls short. The only implication I could draw was that your desires are perhaps fluid, but then the specifics of rain is not necessary?.

Of course L1 & 2 are meant to be read  together as a sentence, however, the deliberate enjambment and lack of conventional punctuation forces the reader to pause – separating the thoughts. “My desire is rain trickling through an old side walk” presents a very different image to the current one.

There is an uncertainty as to what the sidewalk is meant to represent, you have modified the image by describing the sidewalk as ‘old’ presumably to explain the cracks, and if not what other relevance does this have? There are many others reasons for fissures to appear e.g. heat, pressure, material mix etc. If there were a link to the protagonist and the pavement then this could add in interesting layer, ‘old’ however would not be my choice of modifier.

We understand that over time erosion takes place, and likening the rain to fingers opening the cracks is a good image, I wish it tied in better to the first two lines. The implication of time gives us unsatisfied desires.

L5 works nicely, the stanza break separates the thoughts but the puddle continues the theme. I think that there is the opportunity for more expressive representation, hopefully the following comments will give you some ideas.

L6, I don’t know if you are familiar with Sylvia Plath’s work “Mirror” if not you should read it, it is great example of how the whole puddle / mirror image could be manipulated to offer more to the reader.
Unfortunately the metaphor ends here and the closing lines are simply statements, this is an uneventful and unsatisfying close to the poem.

To improve the piece, the main revision lies in the opening and closing line pairs, we need to know more on your desires, be specific which desires endures such time alluded to in L3 & 4? An idea might be a desire for a child, this would also give an added depth (if you’ll pardon the pun) to the puddle metaphor, as it could infer an empty womb filled only with unsatisfied longing. Something like that would provide a stronger close than the current stark statements.  

Of course the above suggestion will change the intention of the poem, and so, it is merely offered as an example of how meaning can be transmuted to image and image portrayed through a consistent metaphor.
 — Nemesis

L8-that i am lonely
(L9) but not alone...


that i am not

you aren't alone, you have your desires.
and you have seen yourself reflected in them (L6).

 — chuckles


You asked on the boards what useful reply you might make, for my part it is always beneficial to see how my interpretation related to that which the author intended, to understand the authors thinking when composing, to discuss the differences and also to garner how useful any given advice is  – in asking this I’m not looking for pats on the back,  but if we are to offer criticism why not gauge its usefulness?  
 — Nemesis

you deserve a response to the crit you gave, it was good. sorry to see you haven't had one yet.

not the author
 — unknown

in the city where i live,
men still raise their hats
at the passage of a lady,
where poems are not read
in books
but on every single face,  

and during seasonal showers
it rains in every heart,
and every drop
on the weathered sidewalk
is a confession from the sky.
 — unknown

he received a response from the author in the forum.
 — unknown


This poem is about my attempt to ignore my human desire for companionship and focus on art. Eventually I was forced to reckon with my desire because of the pain and emptiness my self-imposed isolation caused.

The sidewalk is a metaphor for my resolve and the rain my desire. Once desire broke my resolve I was forced to see my basic need for what it was and deal with it.

I think your criticism of the first stanza was dead on, the language framing the metaphor feels to me a bit incoherent. As you say, my intention in spliting the first lines was to inject pauses.

Old was matched to the cracks.

Erosion is key to what I'm trying to convey.

As you say, the closing lines are statements. I've yet to figure out a way to replace those lines with something fitting.

This revision hopefully helps address the valid points you've raised.
 — rocket

This is becoming more coherent, ageing is a better word choice implying the passage of time which has now been removed with the revision to S2. The inclusion of resolve provides the connection between the pavement and the protagonist but the addition of foundation and gutter don’t really add value. Foundation perhaps could work if it were clear that the rain had penetrated through the outer layers of your resolve to its very core.

I think that there is a revision possible which would set up the closing lines to stand as they are, I’ll post it if you’re interested – not everybody likes to have their work revised by unknown third parties.  
 — Nemesis

Feel free Nemesis.
 — rocket

just a quick re-jig to illustrate a different approach:

I ignore the rain
as its liquid fingers tip, tap
pull and press,
widening the cracks
of an ageing sidewalk:
      desire erodes
      my resolve
      and collects in pools.
Confronted by reflection
I can no longer ignore
that I am alone.
 — Nemesis

Hmm, nice. I'll mull that over a bit.
 — rocket

It is certainly a vast improvement on the original posting.

To my mind and ear it is still too contrived and prose like.

I liked nemesis’s approach, though even it still has room for improvement.

How about taking a different approach / cut out the superfluous

I ignore the rain
as it tip, taps, with liquid fingers
Ever widening erosion’s cracks
in life’s now aged sidewalk
Where desire’s purpose
is now, but a pool in form.

I stare into its still waters
and see that I am not alone.

Just an idea!

 — unknown

Or to modify Mor's approach a little:

Ignore the rain
as it tip taps liquid fingers,
‘er widening erosion’s cracks
in resolve’s failing sidewalk.
Desire’s purpose,
now but a pool in form;
reflect in those still waters -
an image of you, alone.

The ryhme in 2-3 may be a little distracting, it would likley cause a few readers to stumble on L4.
 — Nemesis

Sorry no, line 4 in my offering above is a shambles
 — Nemesis

Lovely. Very vivid images. This is truly wonderful.
 — ErinConnery

Try placing a comma at the end of line 10.
 — stateofmind

Good call SoM.

Excellent Mor, I think you're right on. Thanks also Nemesis.

I'm going to leave this for a few days so I can come back to it with a clean slate.
 — rocket

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