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Friday, July 25, 2008

Blind Review Friday


Okay - here's our first blind review Friday selection. The author shall remain anonymous (unless they chose to divulge themselves in the comments.)
Those commenting are also welcome to remain anonymous if they wish.
Incendiary comments will be removed


If you would like your piece thrown to the wolves send it to salinger@ameritech.net with "Workshop the hell out of this poem" as the subject line.






From now on, I'm gonna need every letter beginning every sentence to fade out a little bit
because when I grab the back of your neck, I want it to feel like a whisper.
I want you to concentrate on my breath
your heartbeat pounding in my hand
my hand holding in your heartbeat
and I don't want you to tell me the difference
even when I am talking to you in another language, you will understand.

Sunday night and in the booth in front of me, Christopher looks white as a ghost
and Ulee walks in with a Greek Tony Soprano.
Christopher leans forward like he just killed somebody's poodle and Tony's unhappy about it.

Now when Tony ain't happy
ain't nobody happy.

Tony is a mad Greek
he is round, balding and straight to the point and he's got me shaking in my seat
and I like it. In between Tony's pauses,
I whisper confessions to friends across from me
I tap teaspoon against decaf coffee cup
waiting for the kiss of death
waiting atleast for the words, say me fee lay.

but I never hear him say it
I only imagine his love this devotion he has with each trip back to the table
and one more thing
and one more thing
and one more thing,

I love you, kid.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are some strong elements however the message or feeling that is trying to be conveyed gets a little obscured at times.

“From now on, I'm gonna need every letter beginning every sentence to fade out a little bit
because when I grab the back of your neck, I want it to feel like a whisper.”

Even though these lines have allot of impact the “whisper “ end leaves confusion and the reader is unsure whether the intimacy is being minimized, or intentional or if it is meant to be a “WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU” whisper. The first line covers the feeling of a whisper, the second covers the connection and then you obscure the effect by spelling out the word whisper.

The next couple lines are intense, there is room to take out redundancy and add in flavor, though your aim maybe to drive towards a rhythmic seductive connection.

With that groundwork you pull the reader to a portrait of some practical interaction. The depiction of the characters is strong and “knowable”.

I just like this line
“I tap teaspoon against decaf coffee cupwaiting for the kiss of death
waiting atleast for the words,”

But don’t get
“say me fee lay.”
Maybe it’s just me but I keep reading “fee lay” hoping it’s a typo.

And then it’s unrequited love to end with. As the reader, I am unsure who these characters really are. I’m left wondering why? As if this had a specific audience and I’m missing an inside joke.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the point in this poem.

I may be inclined to agree with above - that this may be some inside joke but the language is so riddled with cliche
"white as a ghost" "shaking in my seat" "kiss of death" that I can't even say it's a clever joke.

Where's the metaphor?

pottygok said...

I'm going to do a "play by play" style critique, simply responding to lines and sections of the poem as the thoughts come to me. Some of these comments may be more >personal opinion than actual critique, so take 'em with a grain of salt.

>From now on, I'm gonna need every letter beginning every sentence to fade out a little bit

Automatically, I'm wary of the long lines. I'm not sure I agree with this break, and it seems arbitrary, especially for something emotionally charged like this piece. The general "rule" (ugh...rules in poetry?) tends to be shorter lines=more energy. Again, this is a "general", as there are many poems with long lines and potent energy, but it's different, and I'm not sure the long line is helping this poem.

>because when I grab the back of your neck, I want it to feel like a whisper.

This seems mixed. I guess I understand the sentiment but "grab the back of your neck" and "whisper" seem too contradictory to work together, even in a poem.

>I want you to concentrate on my breath
>your heartbeat pounding in my hand
>my hand holding in your heartbeat

I would start with these lines. I like the energy here, and the rhythm of these lines. This seems to be your standard line length--focus on it and it's energy.

>and I don't want you to tell me the difference
>even when I am talking to you in another language, you will understand.

These lines seemed to "prosey" for me, almost as though this was a chopped up paragraph. Another general rule (ugh...) is that the basic unit of the poem is the line, the basic unit of prose is the sentence. If your lines aren't working on their own, then the poem itself probably isn't working.

>Sunday night and in the booth in front of me, Christopher looks white as a ghost

Again, this long line doesn't seem to fit the energy of the piece. Focus on those shorter, four beat lines (3-5, for examples) to maximize the energy.

>and Ulee walks in with a Greek Tony Soprano.
>Christopher leans forward like he just killed somebody's poodle and Tony's unhappy about it.

I'm getting a Bukowski imitation feel from these three lines. Generally, only Bukowski does Bukowski well.

>Now when Tony ain't happy
>ain't nobody happy.

For me, this is a cliche in prose clipped to masquerade as poetry. If nothing else, cut these two lines.

>Tony is a mad Greek
>he is round, balding and straight

line break here...

>to the point and he's got me shaking

line break here...

>in my seat

cut this...too much cliche.

>and I like it. In between

line break here...

>Tony's pauses, I whisper confessions

line break here...

>to friends across from me
>I tap teaspoon against decaf coffee cup

The cup's decaf? I know what you mean, but it reads funny.

>waiting for the kiss of death

WAY too cliche...clip this.

>waiting atleast for the words,

line break here...

>say me fee lay.

I'm not sure this is working, either.

>but I never hear him say it
>I only imagine his love this >devotion he has with each trip >back to the table

These four lines are working for me. The energy works, and the rhythm is tight...


>and one more thing
>and one more thing
>and one more thing,

>I love you, kid.

The repetition seems to peter out, and the ending is too elusive/ambiguous. Who is this "kid" and why does the speaker love him, or is Tony supposedly saying this? I want a stronger punch at the end of this piece--there are raw edges here, and dirtiness. This speaker should hit harder than this at the end.

Anonymous said...

I love the first three lines and the last two lines of that first stanza. What it is trying to say is so lovely and such an odd juxtaposition of images but there is something that trips up the reader. It is difficult and awkward progression and some things leach power. The next two stanzas are not interesting or metaphorical or that lovely language. They seem to just be an aside that sets up the scene for the lovely last four lines of the next stanza and the lovely last stanza. The last line should be deleted.

Cited...

The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau