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Uncertain Places (1 Viewer)

polaroidcaesar

Senior Member
I don't really write poetry very often, so I'm looking for some feedback. Should also note that I was unsure of how to end it, so I'd definitely still say that this is still a WIP.

Uncertain Places
I have left, in uncertain places, certain strands of thought
That, when again I return, will vivify, assume the form
Of dusted walls, lilting waters, bald boughs spasmed towards streaking skies
And I will meet again phantoms that have lived there for uncounted years:

Suggestions of smoke, brushings of bare fingers pale in the cold
Pat-pats of leather shoes on jagged cobblestones
The holm oak where I passed evenings ruffling coffee-stained pages of old books
Lacunas in the stone where gilded light glossed the faces of passersby---
Roman nose, hazel eye flaring in the sun, pursed lip, filament of silver hair---
Pendulating in and out, I think, just like
That pool where koi, like apricots, hid their heads beneath the trembling rain

Evenings that I measured out in sticky glasses of wine and half-bitten peaches
And things I thought while blind, one eye or two closed against the light, senses overwhelmed
By hair and lips and nape of neck, and honeyed half-whispers decanted drop-by-drop
Thoughts that have no form or voice, thoughts forgotten the moment they were thought
Thoughts thought when none were needed but thought all the same:
“What if-” “I’m-” “It’s-” “This is-” “I can’t-” “This-” “It’s-” “I’m-” “What if-”

I have left, in uncertain places, certain strands of thought
That, when again I return, will vivify, assume the form
Of storks in belfries, almond cookies, wind disturbing locks of auburn hair
And I will meet again phantoms that have lived there for uncounted years
Like flies trapped in amber they will outstay the stone
And live unnamed forever
 
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Darkkin

WF Veterans
This reads more like stream of consciousness prose than poetry...Some nice turn of phrase, but way too much wandering with no structure. What does the reader get out of wading through this, not much. Random bits of your ideas without context. You're trying too hard be poetic and it comes off as a bit over the top. Stilted instead of fluid. As a reader, I keep trying to will myself to the end, to find a point. And as a reader that doesn't encourage me to keep going. Sure it's pretty, but it doesn't go anywhere.

Without structure, it is a bit of a no man's land. Take a look at basic poetry formats. Things like stanzas and enjambment. Cherry pick your word choices and be cognizant of formatting. Right now you have line after line of similes and prepositions. You need to deer check, decide what images you're trying to convey. Don't try and shove it all into one piece. This not only clouds your meaning, it crowds out the parts of the poem that work.

A place to start. Cut you content back by seventy-five percent. Pick the lines you think work best (one simile, a preposition instead of nine) and find a point. Write within those constructs and then read both pieces aloud. See you hear a difference. Things that work, imagery and vocabulary, both are very good but you need to dial it back. Keep you images, but treat it like pepper. A little goes a long way. Concept, also good, but it needs to be given focus. You want meaningful critique you need to know where you're going before the reader does. Also cadence. You understand rhythm and don't try to force a rhyme scheme...;)

Poetry is more than just pretty writing. It has structure. The visual aspects matter as much as the actual content. You use punctuation. These natural pauses are an ally. Read aloud, if you break a line on a pause does it make sense? Do you have to keep going until the curser automatically starts a new line? Generally, no you don't have to write until you start a new line.

e.g.

Uncertain places and certain thoughts,
vivid and alluring beckon to me, and I,
foolish mortal that I am, I heed the call,
back to uncertain places, my thoughts...
 
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Darkkin

WF Veterans
The formatting alone is a huge improvement. This one says 'Hey, I have stanzas, I'm a poem!' :cheers: Never underestimate the power of the visual aspects. It is the first thing the reader's eye takes in.
 

polaroidcaesar

Senior Member
It's at least more legible now, certainly. Of course I'm familiar with the formatting of poetry and various poetic forms, but honestly, I haven't done much reading of poetry since high school, and this whole free verse thing kind of beguiles me, so...

As for the content, the idea is that memory is not preserved in logical sequences, but in motifs and isolated images (a hazel eye illuminated by the sunlight, koi in a pond during a rain shower, a certain smell, a certain sound). So, to an extent I'd like to preserve some of the vivid imagery, since that's part of the point. But, as per your suggestion, I'll cut down on it. I'd also like to make some alterations to the closing lines.
 

aj47

(he/him)
WF Veterans
You're welcome. I feel like I'm barging in late to the party and only offering links because I can't give you anything more concrete (hey folks, I'm three hours late but I brought Glenfiddich).
 

jenthepen

Staff member
Mentor
Hi pc and welcome!

You have already had good advice from Darkkin and astroannie, two of our most knowledgeable poets on poetic technicalities, and I can't offer anything more on that front. I tend to approach poetry slightly differently. For me, the feel, atmosphere and message are the strengths of a poem and this one works wonderfully well from that viewpoint. Your flashes of memory paint a vivid picture in my mind of mossy old buildings that have stood, unchanged, over the centuries, absorbing the histories and stories of the various inhabitants over the years. There is also the sense of needing to get away to explore newer places and lifestyles and yet that lingering regret and nostalgia keeps pulling the mind back. It feels as though there is a rich back-story to this poem.

More mundanely, I think some of your lines could e clipped back a little, by taking out a few over-descriptive phrases, but please don't lose that amazingly haunting atmosphere that you have created here by over-editing it. I enjoyed it a lot and I look forward to more poems from you.

jen
 

polaroidcaesar

Senior Member
Hi pc and welcome!

You have already had good advice from Darkkin and astroannie, two of our most knowledgeable poets on poetic technicalities, and I can't offer anything more on that front. I tend to approach poetry slightly differently. For me, the feel, atmosphere and message are the strengths of a poem and this one works wonderfully well from that viewpoint. Your flashes of memory paint a vivid picture in my mind of mossy old buildings that have stood, unchanged, over the centuries, absorbing the histories and stories of the various inhabitants over the years. There is also the sense of needing to get away to explore newer places and lifestyles and yet that lingering regret and nostalgia keeps pulling the mind back. It feels as though there is a rich back-story to this poem.

More mundanely, I think some of your lines could e clipped back a little, by taking out a few over-descriptive phrases, but please don't lose that amazingly haunting atmosphere that you have created here by over-editing it. I enjoyed it a lot and I look forward to more poems from you.

jen

Thanks a lot for your kind words! You've hit the nail on the head, as that was precisely the kind of sentiment I wanted to convey. This might be a bit tl;dr, but this poem is based off the year I spent abroad in Salamanca, Spain. Honestly, I barely remember a lot of it, but certain images keep returning to me (rather than concrete memories, per se), and yes, I do feel a lot of lingering regret and nostalgia about the whole experience. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem, and thanks for your critique. I'll try and edit down and restructure it when I get around to rewriting the ending. Thanks again!
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
Evocative and haunting... like a phantom memory that awakens with a certain scent, or song, time or place, and something inside, stirs, stretches... and for a moment you are transported to a memory almost forgotten, back to a time or place... suddenly there, then quickly gone... Fabulous imagery created a melancholy mood... so many stunning images and poetic lines, it was hard to see the beauty of each one... edit some more, but waste not the lines you cut, save them for another fabulous poem..;)
 

Wizard27

Member
Hi!
as others have said, there are some nice turns of phrase here.
as others have said, it lacks a certain forward momentum: it's worth reading on, but doing so requires an act of will not on the part of reader, rather than being the inevitable result of wanting to know more.
Baudelaire is a good poet for memory. See 'Le Flacon', amongst others (in translation, unless you know French), for inspiration :)
 

Bard_Daniel

Senior Member
There's this rugged edginess about it that I really like. You've been offered some great advice but, as jenthepen mentioned, do not clip your voice. It is what makes you unique and it is valuable.

Just my humble opinion. Cheers!
 

nelen

Senior Member
I like the feel of this poem and you have obviously thought about it and worked hard. Your choice and use of words is good,but it is difficult to disentangle one thought from another. You need to start and finish a thought and then move onto the next one and then I think you will be good.
 

sas

WF Veterans
Coming in late. Much to love in your work. It is not pedestrian, one of my highest compliments. Just selectively edit. And, yes, as mentioned, the lines you edit, don't discard. Save for another poem. Applause. sas
 

John 3

Senior Member
You really do cram the images in don’t you? While some are good and a few are very good, I am still stumbling in picturing ‘trembling rain’
I think it would be better if you content yourself with one good image to a single line; a good image followed immediately by a mediocre one takes the gilt of the ginger bread.
A final thought, much of today’s poetry is written in the first person, the difficulty is that when you put poetry in the public domain then it has to appeal to the reader.
As Darkin has said, the lack of structure makes it difficult for the reader to associate with the poem i.e. while we can savour some of the imagery there is very little else for the reader to take from the piece.

Don’t worry too much, you can certainly write.

Regards.
 
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