poetry critical

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moon ashes and vacuum boys

She was a vacuum and her words
floated like ash. Teacher would be proud
of the lament. He would miss her
cracked ribs and broken skin. How she yearned
for the paleness of a girl; a moon
reflected on curls of water.
She wanted better than a bukowski line
about the knife blade or shitty
sun roses caked in yesterday.
Wanted better than ginsberg's howl
for the next beautiful boy; to hold back
his lined flesh just for a moment.
Because she knew that boy;
                                          the one
who ate a moment for ten years.
who chewed and chewed but still swallowed it whole.
who choked on his hero and his beauty
because he was so broken and brilliant.
She wanted those words made into ash;
to embed a moon
        (a vacuum to drain a room)
in her skin. They were hers

1 Aug 07

(define the words in this poem)

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this is good, I am glad to have found it today.  There are a lot of poignant images, a number of brilliantly constructed ones that keep the reader engaged.  I have a couple of problems with the beginning, however, and would be very glad if you could take the time to clarify (maybe because I am losing my grip on poetry these days, entirely possible):

I am not sure who the teacher is in l2 and am not sure I like her/him there, unless the teacher is one of the boys.  Why would a teacher be proud of ash(en) words?  In l4 - is the "she" supposed to be a "he" or is a woman yearning for a woman? There are quite a few pronouns and personas in the first stanzas and I just get confused who is relating to whom.  I think on the whole I would like you to shorten the stanza (like the other ones) and say less.  The teacher sentence I am not sure you need.  Also, I am not sure you need the "a" before "moon."  What if you changed to:

She was a vacuum and her words
floated like ash. He would miss her
cracked ribs and broken skin.  How (s)he
yearned for the paleness of a girl; (a) moon
reflected on curls of water.    

Stanza two - I want to ask what it is that she wanted to but I keep reading trying to condition myself out of this question.  It is just that the prepositions and the way this sntence is written is a bit confusing ... musically they do not flow well with me.  You have "better than" and then "about" in close proximinty and vocally, this stalls me.  Still, I am asking myself: what did she want.  I think "wanted" here is supposed to relate back to "yearn" but it is not clear and I would add a direct adjective of some sort, it would enrich your images.  

Then I read on to the third stanza: it works better for me and I like the way it is constructed.  The rest of the poem - beautiful writing.  A lot of references to time, to spacial metaphors, to the elements ...  l14-16 - my favoite.  In l16 - the boy has a male hero, right?  She is not the hero?  (I am sorry, I am stuck on pronouns this morning and for some reason, I want them to hang together throughout the poem and sometimes it feels like they don't).  

If the hero is beautiful (and heroic, I would assume), then broken and brilliant in line 18 seem like easy oppositions and do not tell me much at all, they seem to take away the color and the texture evoked thus far.  Do you see what I mean?  Do you need line 18?

"Embed" a moon - how about "etch," or "tatoo" or "plaster" - though "embed" might work just fine.  I am being nit picky now, apologies.  I think you can make the ending stronger ... I am not sure why they  were not hers alone before ... or throughout the poem?  Do you see what I am doing - trying to find a story, threads making a whole?  Am I right to do that with this poem?

Thank you again and I hope this babble of a comment is helpful
Kindly yours
 — slancho


Thank you! What a wonderful and detailed critique. It's deeply appreciated and I'll take what you said into careful consideration when I work on the next draft. This poem is fairly raw. I only wrote a couple of days ago, so it's got weeks of work left to for it.
 — unknown

good luck to you, dear author, let me know when you have made some changes.  You are, of course, welcome to ignore the majority of my comments.  Good writing nonetheless, thank you for posting it.


Aren't all poems always raw, I find that to be true even after edits?  And perhaps that is the beauty to poetry.  Good luck!
 — slancho

"the paleness of a girl" is just a jewel of an image
 — slancho

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