Friday, June 18, 2010

The Return of Blind Review

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 with "Workshop the hell out of this poem" as the subject line.

This week's offering is from a Clevelandpoetics the Blog contributor.

I was riding in a car

A passenger, staring out of the window

And as each line on the asphalt passed me by,

A dotted line that never seems to connect with the other

Like an unfinished sentence, like a failed relationship

I looked from sky to ground

As each cotton candy cloud of manmade pollution passed, I pondered each passerby

As they flitted passed me in their cars, everyone different from the last

I looked from Eastern Horizon to Western walls

Walls of iced graffiti climbing

Like veins, like vines, on cars, on trains, on dividers

Housing a skyscraper forest

That oppressed the beautiful blue sky

And then I realized

That the sky is not as beautiful as it once was

That the view beyond my window

Was a portrait of what we never really see

Oh yes!

The sky was so blue that day

So cearulean that it would shame the most pure of sapphires

But painted upon this corroted canvas

Was a landscape worn with time

Tained, by man’s need for dominance

Sky pollution

Road pollution

Ground pollution

Water pollution

Even the trees looked sad

As they were bullied by house upon house

Building upon building

In this forest of metal and glass

No part of nature was sacred anymore

And I thought to myself

That I could be a warrior

With hands that could sew

And feet that can stand

A voice that can raise

And ears that can listen

I could conquer the metallic gates

I could fight beyond distressed walls

Break down the invisible layers of denial

Of each

And every person

That sped past my eyes

Next to me

I knew as I sat there

Quiet and thoughtful

That no one really knew

What we had been doing

To what we had so graciously been given

I would become a general in a battle of one

And though I am so very small

And my voice meak against the walls of human ignorance

I will never stop speaking

And though I love this city

I will not become oblivious

To the depletion of green around me

To the smell of industry that fills my nose

With every breath

To the view outside my window

Of building upon house upon gravel

Where mother nature gravels to be heard

Where oxygen begs to be purified

Where forests call out to be explored

Armed with only these two hands

Young, hands, strong hands, my loving hands

And my meak voice

That houses strong opinions

Shall I ask each and every person

What do you see when you look outside your window

What do you want you childrens children childrens children to bask in

Shall they bask in the warm glow of the spring sun upon their faces

And the sweet crisp air of the evergreens

Or swim in a sea of ozone depletion they cannot quell

And metal and pain that cannot be healed

What kind of world are we shaping for them

I will ask

As a woman my womb cries out

To my brain to my heart

And as I look from sky to ground once again

East to west out of my window

I look at my fiancé sitting next to me

And know she understands

I am a warrior


Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Ah, some good stuff here.
The poem is strongest where it is most specific, and gets weak when it gets generic.
"I looked from Eastern Horizon to Western walls
Walls of iced graffiti climbing
Like veins, like vines, on cars, on trains, on dividers
Housing a skyscraper forest"

for example, I found very strong, while in the next line "beautiful blue sky" I found a little.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...


I liked the irony of the narrator riding in a car while describing in beautiful language her disdain for the way our car culture is ruining the world, but I think, perhaps, it might be a little stronger if the poet made that contradiction a little more explicit, that the narrator is herself complicit in making the world she decries.

-- I'm glad to see blind review back, by the way.

Shelley Chernin said...

Hurray, Blind Review is back!

I enjoyed the passion of this poem. The strong feelings of the speaker come through clearly.

I agree with Geoff that there are some fresh specifics. There are also some cliches, like "cotton candy cloud" and "the warm glow of the spring sun." I'd rather be surprised by new images, like trees "bullied by house upon house."

Just as an experiment, you could try the entire poem in present tense. As it is now, it starts in past tense and ends in present tense.

I also wonder whether the physical form of the poem could in some way reflect what it's like to drive in a car and watch the things you pass by, as well as the things (like the sky) that stay with you as you drive. I have no specific idea how to do that, but probably with attention to line breaks.

There's lots of good stuff to work with here. For me, the real strength of the poem is in the speaker's fervor. I believe she's become a righteous warrior.

John B. Burroughs said...

I like a lot of this poem, and agree with many of Geoff and Shelley's observations There are a few "typos" that have little or nothing to do with how "good" the poem is, but bug me nonetheless. For example....

passed = past
fiancé = fiancée (if indeed female)
corroted = corroded?

Still... this is a very worthwhile piece. I like it - but would love to see it tightened a bit....

Shelley Chernin said...

Damn, John. You're probably right that corroted=corroded? I was hearing carotid, like the artery in the neck that's sometimes used to take pulse. I was taken with the notion of a "carotid canvas." Even more so when I looked up the etymology of carotid and discovered that it's rooted in a Greek word that means "stupefy" because at one time it was thought that compressing the carotid artery causes stupor.


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