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by fortis

She breathes, a city set ablaze,
like she’s Chicago, ‘71,
a flame is licking through her lungs;
she hacks her heart up in a haze.
Her brow is burning up my hand.
Her mouth is like a droughted river's.
Despite this heat, I watch her shiver
and feel a chill from where I stand.
The room is draped in smells of sick--
I see them, heavy, hanging there.
She pleads for Pastor Baudelaire
in downtown Old Saint Patrick's.
I check my watch, but now is not the time.

But no, she’s like a muddy sea.
Her deathbed’s bloated, stinking, wet.
Her skin’s a swamp of dripping sweat,
like how Chicago used to be.
She takes another phlegmy breath
and lets it out, a drippy rasp.
It seems she’s in an evil grasp.
Her lungs are filled with liquid death.
I check my watch, but now is not the time.

Though bub’ling, boiling, wracked with chill,
and though she’s lost to current thought,
she writes a sonnet on the clock.
She’s writhing, yet she lies so still.
Still writhing, and she’s writhing still.
And when the time at last will come,
this stolid watcher won’t succumb.
I won’t allow my eyes to fill
with burning water fit to kill,
that turned her face this shade of mauve,
that turned all things Ce n'est pas grave,
that drowned her from inside for nil.
I check my watch,
I check my watch.

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785 Reviews

Points: 25876
Reviews: 785

Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:43 am
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Morrigan wrote a review...


You know how much I hate rhyme schemes, but this is so good it's like cream cheese on banana bread. Your meter is what makes it. In the first stanza, I didn't even realize there was a rhyme scheme until river/shiver. That's good. That means that it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. It aids the poem. I feel like that's rare these days.

How do you do it? Dang, son.

My dude, I love how you say '71. This gives us a setting because you're referring of course to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which means this is way before 1971 because otherwise '71 would refer to 1971. Bless your subtle setting hints.

There's only a few things that I'd consider changing about this piece.

she hacks her heart up in a haze.
Her brow is burning up my hand.
Her mouth is like a droughted river's.

While the rhythm is still good here, I don't feel like the full stops at the end of each line are working too well. It's a little jarring where I feel there should be continuing momentum. While it's not strict repetition, there is some here in the way the sentences are structured, and I think it just is a little too much in this section. I suggest changing the structure or punctuation here to give this bit a little more breathing room.

It seems she’s in an evil grasp.

This is the only line that felt forced at all. It's really not that bad, but because the rest of the poem is so well done, it sticks out to me. Such a direct rhyme between rasp and grasp doesn't feel right here. I would change it to something with more of a slant rhyme. Past or passed might be a good one. Not sure what you would say with those, but you get the idea.

and lets it out, a drippy rasp.
It seems she’s in an evil grasp.
Her lungs are filled with liquid death.
I check my watch, but now is not the time.

You do the full stop thing again in this section. I'm starting to think it was a stylistic choice. I get it, but I still think it should flow into each other a little more smoothly. I think it would shift the tone of the poem from something strictly angry to something a little more tender. Because I feel like the narrator is kind of removed from the subject of the poem until the end where the narrator pledges that they will not cry. A more legato style earlier in the poem might make the emotions of the narrator clearer.

This was kind of a short review, but I hope that my critique helps. I'm going to disappear again now. Bye, fort! It was nice to read your stuff again! I really like what you're doing here!

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Points: 35
Reviews: 4

Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:06 am
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Rachel32 wrote a review...

This is an interesting work. The imagery you use is very vivid, making it easy for the readers to insert themselves into the scene. The emotions are conveyed well, too. The kind of... not splintered language, but wandering language, I guess, that jumps from thought to thought makes it rather clear that the narrator is in a certain mood. I am personally not good at naming emotions when I see them, but I think here it’s kind of a mixture of panic, exhaustion, worry, and maybe even a little bit of failure/guilt. Helplessness, maybe, is the term I’m looking for? I don’t know, whatever the proper name is, you’ve done an incredible job of conveying it. The repeating line about the watch seems to indicate that it’s only a matter of time before the sick loved one (I assume loved one) passes. Now, normally, that would be a cause for sorrow, but the rest of the poem clearly indicates that the person is suffering, and it all ties together to seem like the narrator wants the person to live, but also wants their suffering to cease.
I mainly went over all of that because, at least for me as a writer, sometimes what you want to get across, doesn’t end up getting across, and the best way to fix that is to find out if the readers picked up on it.
I didn’t notice any grammar or spelling mistakes, so you’re probably good on that front. Good luck with the writing process! (Because no matter where you are in it, luck is always nice!)

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
— Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"