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Evening in the City

by nomadpenguin

My required words were:  tenant, tomb, menial, and enshroud.

I.  Menial

At the end of the day,
when the sun is bleeding out on
the knifepoints of skyscrapers,
you can see that we are all no more
than insects, foraging through the day
to feed ourselves and our larvae.

Cashiers rest their mandibles,
waitresses neatly fold their wings,
and doctors and lawyers return
to their hexagonal wax houses.
A line of ants stretches down the freeway.

And I can only wonder how long before a
malicious child wanders past,
magnifying glass in hand.

II.  Apartment

I can’t afford a house in
the prime real estate of your heart,
so instead I settle for an apartment.

It’s a modest affair,
one room with one window
where the red wine of sunlight can flow freely in,
and at night the sounds of the city
can enter and fill my dreams.

I am only one of hundreds in the building,
but while others will leave when they find better pay,
here I will forever remain a tenant
of my prison,
my tomb,
my home.

III.  Night

She starts from the distant hills,
enshrouding their soft forms in her arms.
She then caresses each cool blade of grass,
little bridges between green life and gray concrete.
She moves to the street lights,
cupping each luminescent sphere in her hands,
keeping their light trapped in cones of warm romance.
Even the skyscrapers,
whose pointed tips puncture the sky,
fall to her satin voice.

Last of all, she visits you.

She pulls the blankets up around you,
her heavy hair blocking out the light from the window,
touches your forehead with her sleep softened hands,
and she whispers in your ear,
“Awake, my child,
awake, and dream”

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1313 Reviews

Points: 23286
Reviews: 1313

Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:50 pm
Hannah wrote a review...

These are first-read-through impressions:

you can see that we are all no more
than insects, foraging through the day

Two things here. Sudden direct address is awkward. You jerk the reader out of a poem they'd just started to melt into. Can we see ourselves? If so, can you turn "you" to "we"? Secondly, I like the image of foraging through the day when day is considered a solid object. Instead of "through the time and duration of the day", it could also read as "through the solidness of the day to the other side", which I like, but I don't feel is fully exploited.

And I can only wonder how long before a
malicious child wanders past,
magnifying glass in hand.

And now, suddenly an I? Besides the fact that the magnifying class is an obvious route to take after making us insects, where does this voice come from? Couldn't you keep it a community voice? That sometimes the newspapers wonder or the crazy ones wonder when the badness will come?

I absolutely love the title for this section.

Ahh, and oh my gosh I feel like the second section is very bland. D: I am so disappointed after a vivid and engaging first section, that your section section uses predictable comparisons and language that everyone else has used before you. Couldn't you find unexplored corners of the apartments? Have you ever seen an ant crawl underneath the wallpaper? The rug bugs? You don't have to bring the bugs into the second stanza, but they are so embedded in that life that I think it might serve the permanence you attempt to call out by saying "prison". You need to keep the subtlety to move your message effectively, though.

And happily, I love everything about the third stanza. It uses the giant human to capture all the textures and lights and feelings and things we would like to capture if we were big enough. But grass is never that small in our hands and the streetlights are too high over our heads to hold, so bringing that power in through this woman character is amazing and evocative. 'Cept the words you chose for her:

“Awake, my child,
awake, and dream”

No no, not at all. Is that really what you wanted her to say, or was it just something that you could put there to seem deep. What does this woman really say to you in your room, with your dirty blanket, your dusty floor, after sweeping in over all the land and doing all the things you cannot do? What is it that she could or would want to say to you?

Ahh. Two good ones and a bad one in between, but overall I leave feeling lifted.
PM me if you have any questions about my review, please.
Good luck and keep writing! Please!!

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662 Reviews

Points: 52441
Reviews: 662

Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:40 am
dogs wrote a review...

Hey there Nomad! Dogs here with your review. First if I may say: congratulations Nomad for being the final submission into my poetry contest! Do keep in mind that all my notes are complete nit picks because every single submission into this contest has been so good that I really got to dig deep to even find anything wrong with the writing. I was surprised that you decided to take this into three different poems, of course I never said anything against it and usually I'm a little hesitant to this approach, but you pull it off marvelously.

I'm a tad bit upset of the use of "menial." On one hand you use it creatively as a title for the part of your poem, on the other hand it does come off a little as finding a way out and avoiding the use of this word in your poem. I'm sure that wasn't your intention though.

"At the end of the day,/ when the sun is bleeding out on"

Good way to start this piece out. I like the imagery of the sun bleeding on the buildings. My only criticism is that I think the first line isn't as strong of a start as you can make it to be. I think you should just strike the reader with a big line. Maybe try switching the first and the second line, so try saying: "The sun (insert cool word here), bleeding out/ at the end of the day/ on..." Just a minor suggestion.

"knifepoints of skyscrapers,"

Minor notes, firstly "knifepoints" grammatically should be two separate words, although I do like it just as one word for some reason. But it doesn't really make sense to do it as one word instead of two. Also there should be a period after "skyscrapers."

"to feed ourselves and our larvae."

I love love love the comparison of making everyone insects and what not. Although this last line bugs me a little bit. I think it is the double use of "our" so close in proximity to each other that's throwing me off here. Try editing one out.

No complaints about the rest of part I. I really like the small hint of conformity you're giving off, I don't know if that was your intention or not but it does come across as quite effective and poetic.

The first stanza of part II is killer. Great imagery and really poetically gives the reader a lot of plot line with simple, smooth, and brilliant writing. Excellent work there.

"It’s a modest affair,"

I don't think "affair" is the right word you're looking for here. Especially because affair means an event or string of events or a love affair. Try editing that out for a clearer word.

"can enter and fill my dreams."

I love the imagery of the red wine filling the room. Also, I think you should try to omit all useless words here and just say: "can enter my dreams" just for the sake of flow.

"here I will forever remain a tenant"

Nice use of the prompt word. Although it does stick out like a sore thumb in this sentence and I'm not sure why. Maybe try looking up "tenant" and how it's naturally used in sentences and edit this line accordingly.

"enshrouding their soft forms in her arms."

Nice smooth use of "enshroud" in this line. Well done there. Also I like this part with night and how you portray her. Although it does seem like a bit of leap from your previously part, but I think this is my favorite bit. Especially because I've never seen "night" framed in such a way as a loving and caring woman, who tenderously takes her duties and covers the world in her cloak.

"She then caresses each cool blade of grass,"

This line seems just a tad bit too long. Try to omit useless words by saying: "Caressing each cool blade of grass," I love the next line, although it's a tad too long for my tastes. Try to cut it down if you can.

"cupping each luminescent sphere in her hands,"

You continue to use such excellent imagery that it astounds me. I love reading this piece, I almost want the entire poem just to be about the night and how she encases the world.

Interesting ending, I'm not quite positive i get it entirely. I'm assuming that you mean for the night, dreaming is a form of people being awake. Or at least that's the vibe I get from this ending. All and all a great piece and I really loved reading it, you did well with your words and your imagery is certainly the strongest aspect of your writing. I loved reading it. Let me know if you ever need a review. Keep up the good work!

TuckEr EllsworTh :smt032

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
— Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest