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The Poet

by nmk1128

I reclined sluggishly as ol' Mrs. Bridge went on about some brilliant poet in her strong Manhattanese. My consciousness failed me as my eyes caught the drift of some gentle clouds from the room's window and I floated away with them into some wonderful daze...

I, caught up in my afternoon dream, wasn't aware that the ol' girl had discovered my absence; she notified me of her discovery quite instantly with that strong Manhattanese and her bold cerulean eyes.

“Mr. White,” she said delightfully, “are we havin' an outta body experience?”

I turned my head to her voice in bewilderment, and a few polite laughs came from the crowd.

“Let's try to stay focused, huh, Mr. White,” she grinned, fantastically.

I shook my head, “I-I don't think I can.” Some obscure voice said from my lips.

To this day I'm lost as to why I said this, and, perhaps, there's some parallel between afternoon dazes and daring advances on authority; however, I'm an expert of none and have simply declared it as an afternoon impulse under the influence of clouds.

She smiled a minute with those eyes and her ferocious auburn mane.

“And, Mr. White, and why is that?”

I was a trifle baffled at her response, having been expecting a witty remark and an invitation to the office. I swallowed and attempted to answer her, but choked on my words.

“Yes?” she inquired, grinning now.

I paused, collecting my answer, then said slowly,“It's just that I don't care much about this Shelley guy or whatever his name is.” The room lolled to a horrific silence.

Eddies of thought swirled around in her irises. She started towards me.

“Why is that Mr. White?” She looked at my keenly and added, softly, “I'm curious.”

I paused studying her delightfully interested face.

“Because – because... like, he lived two hundred years ago or something, right?” I swallowed, collecting and organizing my scattered thoughts, “or maybe it was more, but what does some dead poet have to teach me anyway?” She was fiddling her hands together and had begun to gently pace back and forth. I added, “A couple hundred years changes a lot about the world Mrs. Bridge... I just don't see why anybody should even begin to care about this Shelley guy.” I felt the crowd's collective stares warm my face.

Mrs. Bridge hummed to herself and pivoted towards me.

“Mr. White,” she raised a finger, “Do you enjoy history?” I looked oddly at her. “It's not a trick question Mr. White, do you enjoy history?”

I nodded slowly.

“Lemme ask you somethin' then: does history repeat itself?”

I paused, pointlessly, and once again nodded.

She bobbed her head and asked who makes up history. I told her man does. At this she bit her lip and nodded happily.

“So,” she drew the word out, “how do we know about history then, kid?”

I proposed writing and she concurred. She then went on to ask what everyone in history has in common. I had no answer.

“They're all dead,” she said in blunt jest, anonymous giggles came from the crowd.

I shifted in my desk, leaning forward, using my arms to support my head.

She went on to tell me that poetry was greater than history in that it not only cataloged events, but emotions. She called it a “history in human emotion”.

“Tell me, Mr. White,” she whispered – the crowd's and my ears perked up like foxes, “What does this Shelley guy really have to tell you?”

I turned over the previous five minutes, but drew no conclusion to her question. I shrugged.

Her voice exploded in the room's vacuum of silence.

“Everything! Mr. White, everything!” she continued passionately, “These dead poets got a million things to say. You wanna know why Mr. White because man repeats himself. Not only in history, but in emotion, in feeling, in expression. And their written words – key word, Mr. White, written – transcend time and live beyond the grave. Poetry, I mean this, is the closest thing this world's had to divinity since Jesus Christ. It's powerful stuff, really powerful. It has the ability to end famines, to change cultures, to stop wars. What else do you know that can do that? ... Mr. White, poetry isn't written by dead men.” She briefly paused to catch her breath. “Poetry is written by man's spirit. That's why it transcends and that's why it's so divine, and that's why, Mr. White, you can't tell me Shelley has nothin' for ya' because he does, because you're human and because your spirit needs to be stirred. That's really what poetry is about, Mr. White, stirring the soul.”

The eddies had become whirl pools. I shifted, rubbing my sweaty hands together and looking at my petrified arm hairs and felt my heart's rapid throbbing. Then at once I felt something beyond the sweat and hair and beating; I felt a warmth formulating from the front of my head as my brain soaked in Mrs. Bridge's words. The warmth trickled down my being and I stirred, beautifully and tenderly. The words of the human spirit, the words of poetry had fluttered into my being and I embraced it utterly and entirely.

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Points: 1167
Reviews: 7

Mon May 27, 2013 3:04 pm
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KatieHope wrote a review...

This was... wow. Let me try again: this was captivating. I sincerely enjoyed reading it. The only bothersome thing -an anecdote you couldn't do much about, given the admittedly clever "Manhattanese" characterization- was the way Mrs. Bridge's way of speaking. This made her bits a little bit more difficult to follow with all the contractions! It's an insignificant detail, however, part of a much larger piece that was really nice. Keep writing.

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15 Reviews

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Reviews: 15

Mon May 27, 2013 12:25 am
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YoungMom1210 wrote a review...

Amazing. That is the only word i can think of for this short story. I think the way you used such educated words is what really captivated me. This was a very well written piece and that you should definitely keep on writing !

I was very surprised once i started reading that it was this good. For some reason I didn't think it was going to be; but you know what they say "You can't judge a book by its cover" and in this case its name. :)

I will definitely keep reading some more things you have written. :) Very well done !

nmk1128 says...

Thank you for taking the time to read this C: I'm glad you liked it!

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159 Reviews

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Reviews: 159

Sun May 26, 2013 1:18 pm
Skydreamer wrote a review...

Wow. This was written really well. I like how you started although when I started reading for some reason I thought he was at an old lady's house listening to stories about old poets. :P Nevertheless it captivated me and I am sure everyone else who did a review.

I really liked the words you used, words like "cerulean" I did not even know of their meaning until I read this. And I love words! But that's not all it's the way you use words, I mean I know the meaning of eddies, but for you to use that in thought process, unthinkable! Which was why this work was so original. I mean this could be in a book, honest.

But I do have a criticism and it is the ellipsis, I might be silly for saying this, but I find them informal? I even have to put the question mark because I am questioning myself, but it's true, I do. And I do because of the way you are using them in order to tell time and space, and if it okay for them to be used in such literature someone please tell me! (Because I have already given someone else advice that they don't seem too professional.) But, if they aren't I think my advice should be taken seriously. And the think is, for you, you don't even need to use ellipsis, instead of using them you you say "She had paused for a brief moment, staring at me" or something like that, one of your fancy writings.

And another suggestion, changing the use of "crowd", I think you used that because you wanted to make the (teacher?) Ms. Bridge the vocal point? Like she is the "show"? Personally I think it would be better if you let the reader know it is a (classroom?) work environment, and not use the term "crowd" but then again, if it really works for you, what can I do? :P I just think it helps people like me not feeling confused about the setting until the end.

So overall, it was amazing, I really like the way you write. In fact, I'd like to write with you/learn from you! :D So, yeah. Keep at it.

-- Dream on!

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117 Reviews

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Reviews: 117

Sun May 26, 2013 12:47 pm
Sapi wrote a review...

Hiya! Sapi here as I promised (sorry it took me so long...).

So. Good job! You're right, I really did enjoy this little piece, and it most certainly made me smile. See? :) :) :) There you go. It was a fun and creative way to express the awesomeness and importance of poetry, and I admire your idea for this. I'm just going to comment on a few specific things....

"My consciousness failed me as my eyes caught the drift of some gentle clouds from the room's window and I floated away with them into some wonderful daze..."

I don't know why, but the use of the second "some" in this sentence sounded a little off. Maybe just replace it with a simple "a"?

"strong Manhattanese "

Haha. Love that. :P

"and a few polite laughs came from the crowd"

I don't believe that in real life, the laughs would be polite. They might not be mean either, they could even be sympathetic or nervous, but not polite. That's just what I think.

"I proposed writing and she concurred. She then went on to ask what everyone in history has in common. I had no answer."

Maybe just convert this part to regular dialogue. I had to read it over a few times to understand what it actually meant. First, I thought it meant that the narrator had proposed to write the answer. But then that didn't make sense with the following dialogue, so it just made me a tad confused. :)

"The eddies had become whirl pools"

I like your two-time analogy to water in her blue eyes. That's a wonderful way of describing emotion. :)

So in general, I loved this story! The ending, I felt, was perhaps a little too quick and forced, and maybe if you moved it to the present tense and made it kind of a "Now, looking back, I think...." and then the stuff in the last paragraph. Because if it was a kid who was just scared, I'm not sure he would realize the beauty right then and there. Just a thought.

Great job and happy writing!


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1417 Reviews

Points: 3733
Reviews: 1417

Sun May 26, 2013 2:44 am
Noelle wrote a review...

Hi there! Noelle here with a Review Day review.

This story is nice. It's very realistic and sort of reminds me of something that would happen in a movie. Your dialogue is very interesting and you really get your point across.

One thing I would suggest about the dialogue though is to make the teacher's dialogue more formal. I understand that it must be realistic and everything, but not very many teachers say "lemme" and "somethin'". They may talk like that outside of the classroom, but in front of their students they must act professional. And one way to do that is to speak professional.

Another suggestion I would make is to cut out some of the "Mr. White". Surely this kid has a first name. The teacher could call him by his first name a few times. And names aren't always needed in dialogue. If you think about it, how many times do you call your friends by their names when having a conversation? Probably not a lot. So I don't expect characters to be any different.

My favorite part of this piece is most definitely the first two paragraphs. I was chuckling to myself while reading because there were a lot of kids in my high school classes who I'm sure thought exactly like the main character. You did a good job establishing the character early and really developing him later through his responses, both verbally and through body language.

Keep writing!

nmk1128 says...

Thank you for your review and I'm glad you enjoyed (: This Mrs. Bridge is based off a real teacher of mine who does talk like that and calls us Mr. So-and-So lol and she's a great teacher. The names are symbolic though which is why I saw it unfitting to give Mr. White a first name.

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1239 Reviews

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Sun May 26, 2013 2:30 am
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niteowl wrote a review...

Hi nmk1128, niteowl here to review this excellent story.

I definitely agree with Picklesole that it would be great to include some poetry. Perhaps at the end have her re-read some of Shelley's and ask if that does not inspire him. This piece made me look up Shelley's poetry, though, which is a good sign. :)

The main problem, I felt, was the voice of the main character. His actions suggest that he doesn't care much for school (or at least English class), yet he uses words like "cerulean", which seems at odds with that. If he has such a diction/vocabulary, it's more likely than not he's a fan of reading and writing in general, so he'd be paying more attention in English class, even if he wasn't crazy about poetry. I might consider "dumbing down" his thoughts a bit so he sounds more like a normal 16 year old, at least in the beginning.

I liked the rest of it though. The dialogue felt right and the speech was inspiring. Good job and keep writing! :)

nmk1128 says...

Thank you very much for your review and time to read this (:

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80 Reviews

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Sun May 26, 2013 1:28 am
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Picklesole wrote a review...

Hey there! So this is an interesting way to write this. I usually am not a fan of excessive dialogue but I think you've managed to make it essential to the story. I would definitely agree with Mrs. Bridge on her view of poetry. :) I have only a couple things to say.

1) Watch out for grammar. I understand some things to be part of the professor's vernacular, but there are some spots where the grammar mistakes are in punctuation and so forth, so I'd go through everything and add commas and periods to help reduce run-on statements and so forth.

2) She says Mr. White too many times, in my opinion, it sounds a little redundant. I'd recommend reducing that, as well.

3) This is about how emotional and important poetry is, right? So add some actual poetry in! Maybe when she's describing how important it is to history, she can quote poetry that's applicable, and that not only shows by example how awesome poetry is, it also logically strengthens the professor's argument. Just a thought.

That's it really. I really like the concluding paragraph, it's very descriptive and beautifully written. Again, I find the format of how you wrote this really interesting, this is the first teacher-student debate piece I've read on here. :) Have a nice day!

nmk1128 says...

Thank you for your review! I really appreciate it and think that adding some poetry would be a great idea! I hope you enjoyed it c:

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