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let me be hope

by AvantCoffee


If I can be anything, let me be hope,
so that these abysmal hymns you love and love saltily, riotously –
your empty palms submerging under a new moon –
can be complimented with the purest antagonism.

Let me be the parallel that never lets you be,
the scent of rain-splattered gardenias
that comes to you in the alien of the universe
to caresses your subtext, to love and love glisteningly, expansively,
with words as true and cheeks sweet with tears.

I may not have depth as you
to drown my thoughts under, under, under still,
but I have height to see a great star peeking over the precipice of the world –
so dear god, let me be hope, as you are loss, as we are purposeful.

Together; apart. Undying as
the archetypal plays of the celestial theatre;
here, let our duality be distilled:
a dance of adoration for the cuts that sing
like birds at hungover dawn.


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Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:18 am
Aley wrote a review...



Hello AvantCoffee,

Sorry for the late reply to your review request, but here it is!

Overall, the flow of this piece is really good. I got caught up on "I may not have depth as you" because the line doesn't really make that much sense even read altogether. You might want to tweak it to be a little clearer like "I may not have the depths of you" or something like that.

The stanza itself seems to say
'I may not have the ability to be deep
like you can get lost in thoughts, deeply,
but I can see the big picture
so let me be your opposite because that makes us meaningful'

This stanza is the first mention of what the character sees as the opposite of hope is, and while I can see hope's opposite being loss, I really don't think that summarizes hope well. For instance, someone can have hope that they will get something back when they've lost something, meaning they can have both hope and loss at the same time. You cannot have red and green as the same pigment, you can't have light and dark at the same time like that. You can have a balance of green and red, or light and dark, but having one reduces the other. If someone loses their child, they have a lot of hope that they will return. These two things are co-dependent and raise together. Without a loss of some need, be it a job, a person, an object or something, there is no hope, so they have a positive correlation.

I would see the opposite of hope as knowledge or certainty. If we take the examples from earlier. If someone knows for certain their child is dead, they no longer have hope that they will have them back as a living breathing person. They may then transfer that hope to catching the killer, but knowledge of who that killer is brings an end to that hope. We have hope that there is life after death, but because we have and cannot have knowledge of life after death, there is no finality or certainty in that situation. We can always have hope for a better tomorrow, but we can not have hope for a better yesterday because we already know what happened yesterday. Yesterday is already stone in our minds. We can have hope that our future perspective will change our opinion of yesterday, but, again, that is an infinitely unknowable future which cannot be certain.

Anyway, back to the poem. I really think the last stanza can get cut off. It's a lot of fluff language that doesn't really add to the story of the poem. It's all stuff about the godliness of life that really doesn't add depth to the characters, or why this person wants to be the antagonist to this other character, or how they actually relate to one another or anything like that. It's just reiterating that this is a theme in literature and clearly if we're a reading public, given that this is written for poetry readers probably as poetry readers are those who read poetry, then we're already going to be aware of this duality and the depth of this situation because that's always something harped on as "star-crossed lovers" and I'd much prefer more specifics about the protagonist. Who is this character that our main person here wants to hold onto like this? Why? Why do they care so much that they want to be the opposite of them and be eternally bound? Are these people? That's a huge question for me. I feel like if these are people, then this person speaking is a bit short-sighted because most relationships work best as the same, not opposites. Magnetism isn't good in relationships.

Anyway, overall I think you have a really good poem here and I would enjoy reading your style of work. I would like to see different situations with more specificity with your writing, more character, less ethereal nonsense. The more down-to-earth, the more human-condition poems get in them, the better they usually are and I think that's where you should go next!




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Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:57 pm
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alliyah wrote a review...



Hey CoffeeCat! Sorry for the delay in reviewing this!

I'm going to start with flow before I get to the other aspects since you asked for feedback specifically on that.

Flow
So there's some difficulty in the flow here and there, and I think this is mainly due to the unevenness of the lines - consistency in line length is generally what I suggest if I note flow issues, however I'm actually not going to suggest that in this poem! Because, I liked the sort of un-evenness of the lines because it seemed to go with the words/message - the speaker is in a place of metaxy and yet they're feeling separated - this tension means that the un-eveness of the lines actually creates that feeling for the reader as they read the piece. We're forced to pay attention to the uncomfortability of stretching then short lines.

So here's what I'd suggest for improving the flow instead.

1. Take a second look at punctuation.
Dashes, semi-colons, and colons are going to create a more abrupt stop or distraction than a period. (I'll note that using a dash right after the line about "precipice" is perfect, because it creates that falling effect as you have to jump down to the next line) What draws my attention immediately though is that final paragraph, where before there were just a couple calm commas separating here and there, suddenly the line one is broken up mid-line with a period and a semi-colon. And then line one is also broken mid phrase (undying as // the archetypal plays" with some really consonant heavy words and then we are introduced to colons though there have been none elsewhere in the poem.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that the final paragraph, especially that first line feels really choppy, and sort of without reason, since it doesn't seem like anything dramatically different is happening in it. I would suggest, figuring out a different way to punctuate the first line, and may even adding extra words, and then maybe replacing the colon with a dash rather than introducing a new punctuation mark three lines from the end.

If you can imagine punctuation in colors - this is your poem: (You can do a similar thing like this by assigning words like "bop, la, da, bop" to phrases and punctuation marks and then saying it out-loud although for me the color thing is easier).

Spoiler! :

green and blue are soft transitions, red are hard transitions

phrase comma phrase comma
dash dash
phrase period

phrase comma phrase phrase
phrase comma phrase comma

phrase period

phrase
phrase comma comma comma

phrase dash
phrase comma comma period

phrase SEMIcolon period phrase
phrase SEMIcolon
phrase COLON

phrase
phrase period


2. Second thing I look for when it feels like there may be flow issues, is where does the repetition fall (sound and word repetition) and then I say those parts aloud and try to figure out if they help or hurt.

Overall, I think your use of repetition helped the flow (and cohesion of the piece) I think the "love, love" and "under under" repetition is easy to say.

But the words ending in "-ly" are consonant heavy and a bit burdensome to get through - "saltily, riotously –" and "glisteningly, expansively," - if you're going to try to move around anything those are the two lines I would look at.


Meaning
This poem had some long sentences with $10 words, that sometimes felt like a winding path. But the words you used were so specific that even without re-reading a sentence twice as a reader I think you can immediately take-away the emotional tone of the poem, and then read again to try to decipher the meaning of the individual sentences. The main feeling I got from the poem was that of dissonance, that there is something not right and a desire for something to change.

Mostly, I found this poem super challenging to try to interpret in anyway, and had to pass through with multiple readings. I do like that there are at least clear themes that a person can follow through the poem, but as far as what the plot and characters and intended meaning are, there was some vagueness. My main suggestion for improving the clarity of meaning would be to make the subject of the poem clearer - because I couldn't tell if this was being addressed to the self, a friend or lover, or to god. Here are my three interpretations.

1. To Self
The poem is an internal running dialogue of a speaker who has lost all hope, so now they can only "hope for hope" in an ironic sort of twist. They feel like they're drowning in what could save them - they are hoping for hope, but that doesn't satisfy their need for hope. They are really dualistic in their hopes for their lives though and that's part of the issue - on one they're okay being complimentary, on the other hand they want to pay compliments. Maybe they even have a split personality based on the imagery dissonance in the last stanza. They're like a star that you can't quite see - just on the edge of something.

2. To a Friend / Lover
This interpretation didn't occur to me until I looked and saw this poem was categorized as romantic. The speaker is deeply in love with someone, but can only really hope that their relationship will work out - or wants to actually be the embodiment of hope for their lover/friend. The speaker sees how the subject is beautiful/wonderful (like flowers) but at the same time maybe is depressed, not completely whole (tears/rain). The speaker wants to transcend that aspect of them. And they note that though their lover/friend has great emotional depth - can really live internally and emotionally, maybe experiences deep grief and sadness. They hope they can be a star - something that can offer hope and joy to them, even if it's a little surface deep, or unachieavable/ungraspable. The two sort of have a yin/yang effect in their relationship - it's tension but it's also harmony.

3. To god
If the phrase "so dear god" is taken literally as a pleading prayer rather than just a turn of phrase, this could be a spiritual poem - which makes all the celestial imagery about God and the heavens. And maybe hope is a metaphor for faith. The poem is a prayer from the speaker who wants to have faith, they want to be able to see God. But God seems to be almost hiding (though is all around in nature) while the speaker finds themselves reaching up to the stars, God seems to be doing the opposite. Maybe the speaker is having conflict with seeing God in the world and seeing God as something that isn't just depressing/lost/crucified. In the end that last line is probably most though provoking, because I think "hungover dawn" invokes that the sun imagery has gotten close to the earth/birds - so the divine and profane meet a little closer despite the tension.

I'm curious if any of those were close at all! :) I had fun trying to interpret!

Wording
As I mentioned in my section about deciphering the meaning of this poem, you've got some reallly complicated sentences, where the reader has to bounce from phrase to action to phrase to description and back again to action etc. I think in the future you might try interspersing short sentences with your long sentences, so that the reader can at least pick up something easy to figure out between the more difficult ones. It gives the reader a split second break too, and will allow them to catch all your imagery and metaphors.

There were a few phrasing deals, that I couldn't make sense of:
"with words as true and cheeks sweet with tears." -> I think it would make more sense with the word "as" eliminated or else it reads almost like"words as true and cheeks / sweet with tears" -- because there's no punctuation after true, it's hard not to stick "cheeks/tears" into the comparison with the truth.

I also wonder if you meant "lost" in this phrase, "as you are loss," - I can understand how just "loss" would work, as it mimics the phrase "let me be hope" - but I'm having trouble finding that theme of "loss" in the rest of the piece, so I don't know why that is chosen as the word to contrast with "hope", to me the opposite of hope might be doubt or grief instead, but I could be missing something here - "loss" has almost too many connotations to work (could mean grief, could mean loss of a game, could mean directionally lost etc).

Other Suggestions

Overall this is really quite a strong poem, you've got some gems in here, and I think most importantly; every line says or shows something - I read a lot of poems with empty lines or even completely empty stanzas - but you pack images/symbols and movement and meaning into each line, and that's a hard thing to do. I particularly like the places where you do a quick contrast between water imagery and then celestial imagery - with the rain/tears, water/moon, drown/star. In the last stanza I was curious what the water element was - if it might be blood implied by "cuts" or maybe the sky - with the description of "dawn".

Let me know if there was something I didn't get to in my review, and I'd be happy to give some more feedback.

Keep writing poetry!

~alliyah




AvantCoffee says...


Aaah thank you so, so much for this amazing review, alliyah! :D All the advice and suggestions you gave are really helpful.

What you describe about the tension and dissonance is spot on, and makes so much sense when I think about my feeling/intension when writing this poem. I didn't realise it until you brought it up since I largely wrote on instinct, but I definitely wanted to translate the speaker's discomfort and messy complexity in the present as they yearn for change and the release of tension, almost as if they're desperately stretching for clear, bright, open skies. I suppose I automatically thought the difficulty/unease the poem's flow gives the reader was just wrong (and for that reason it felt "off" to me), yet that wrongness is really what the poem is trying to convey. It's not a relaxing poem. That being said, your punctuation/wording tips are great to improve flow where it's actually needed.

It was so fascinating to read your interpretations of the poem! The funny thing is, all three contribute to the poem's intended meaning. In this poem, the speaker is myself asking the universe/life/God for me to be the equal of this other person in my life whom I admire (for their deep yet dark truths and expression). I perceive this person to be similar to an alternate version of myself if I had taken a darker path in life (loss), who knows places and states of mind I couldn't know. I'm just as much asking, "If I can be anything, do not let me be like this other person. Instead, let me contribute a different voice of truth and expression so that we together can represent a fuller experience of life." The last stanza takes this to a grader scale, by suggesting that our two seperate lives and the paths we've chosen are symbols of life's bittersweet balance - the yin and yang, and that our roles are to be messengers of these two opposing yet equally valid sides of perceiving life.

Well, that's my interpretation of what I was going for in this poem, but no interpretation is a wrong one in my books. I thought all yours were really cool.

With using "loss", I tried to make the theme relevant with the line, "your empty palms submerging under a new moon" (because emptiness and the new moon being no visible moon at all). I chose loss (as opposed doubt or other themes) because loss is something that weighs down the past, whereas doubt, like hope, is something tied to the future. I think I wanted to contrast past with future, so that's why that happened. Maybe I could try to depict loss more throughout the poem if I ever decide to edit it dramatically.

Phew! I'm stoked that you appreciated the poem overall. (Also, with water elements in the last stanza, I imagined "distilled" to be the link, since it can be defined as purifying liquid by successive evaporation and condensation). ;) Again, thank you so much for reviewing! You're brilliant ~



alliyah says...


Ah awesome, you're very welcome! I'm glad my interpretations weren't too out there - and I definitely picked up those main themes you give in your explanation - especially the tension & balance bit came through very clearly. Glad to help - this was a fun one to review!



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Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:19 am
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Aliceinhorrorland wrote a review...



Hello, I’m here to review! The first thing I want to say is that this poem was written beautifully, and I definitely couldn’t of done something like this ahahaha. So good job! The only thing I want to say is I think a few of the sentences were weighed down by some of the words, and messed up the flow just a little. But most of the lines did flow, so I don’t think it was too much of a problem. I’m gonna be honest I didn’t know what a few of the words meant XD. But that’s just me! I think you should definitely continue these poems because they turn out really good, and I’m sure they only get better from here! Overall, your poem was pretty great and you should be hecka proud!!

~PS. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Thanks for giving this awesome poem XD~




AvantCoffee says...


Thank you! I get what you mean about the flow of the poem, so your observation helps confirm that for me. Thanks for being supportive ~



AvantCoffee says...


Thank you! I get what you mean about the flow of the poem, so your observation helps confirm that for me. Thanks for being supportive ~



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Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:21 pm
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ThatOneGuy2002 says...



Awesome! I loved this poem, both the imagery and style flowed really well! What I got out of it was (just my translation of what I read) was sort of a romanticized description, speaking of two people whos opposites attract, both complimenting and fitting one another perfectly. Just, excellent job, and I hope to read more from you in the future! :3




AvantCoffee says...


Thank you for commenting! That's what I hoped for, so I'm glad you interpreted the poem that way. c:




The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.
— Fabienne Fredrickson