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(thoughts swim [together) is a forgotten state]

by whatchamacallit


i try to write something, because i know
if i can throw enough blank white sheets
into this horizonless sea, then perhaps
i can sop it all up or patch all the leaks or

fix whatever's wrong is the mantra but i'm not sure
what the wrong is. i'm bloated on emotions and
shards of my sea glass heart ride the tide -
if i can use words to drain the ocean, i can

go dredging for your lost pieces, i tell myself like
i am a fractured puzzle disintegrating into pulp
and i can be held together by the net of a notebook.
i use all of my paper mache mush to sculpt

new organs are hard to come by, but jellyfish
pulse through the sea like a heartbeat so
i stuff one into the sea of me - tentacles slither
through my veins and the sting feels sweet.

i swim deep to make new memories but all i make
are collapsed lungs that shrivel under the weight
of remembering old ones. pufferfish glide past:
i jam two between ribs and watch them inflate with

long sharp skewers break through my soft skin
and i wish they were at least filled with ink
so i could tattoo progress into my palms.
but instead i lean back and let myself sink into

the shifty seafloor sand engulfs my empty notebook.


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147 Reviews


Points: 8595
Reviews: 147

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Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:37 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hello whatcha!

Once again, as it tends to be with your poetry, this one is so filled with these intricate threads of imagery. I could immediately recognise the voice as your signature poetic voice. The mood in this one was this sort of chaotic overwhelm, which I can see clearly in the style of the title, with a touch of heartbreak.

Subject, Themes, Narrative

This was a nice introspective poem about a speaker trying to put their feelings into words. When reading this, I thought the subject of writing was being explored to show how words can sometimes be inadequate to depict feelings (ironically, given that this poem for me at least conveyed very strong feelings!) or even for self-expression, as in the second stanza metaphor “a fractured puzzle” implies. The line about the “empty notebook” seems to contrast with how the skin of the speaker’s palms is being tattooed with progress. Finally, the speaker gives in to the futility of this endeavour with a classic one-liner.

I thought the narrative here was simple, but portrayed in great detail, with each stanza exploring a somewhat different aspect. For instance, stanza 2 to me seemed to be about catharsis, trying to “drain the ocean”, whereas stanza 3 is more about identity.

Language and Imagery

The main two motifs I saw was the notebook motif and the marine imagery. They seemed to be in conflict with each other, as in the first stanza where the speaker is trying to use the “blank white sheets” to soak up a “horizonless sea”, and the contrast in size and scope between these two things makes their efforts seem futile. The second stanza expands on that to link it directly to writing with “mantra” and “words” that fail to “drain the ocean”.

I thought I saw more visceral imagery towards the climax (around stanzas 4,5) of the poem, for instance the turn of the images to “new organs” and the speaker trying to “stuff” and “jam” things into their body. With the viscera, though, there comes these images of vitality and life, such as the simile “like a heartbeat” and the sting feeling “sweet” (and I personally always associate sensations with vitality).

The imagery in the last two stanzas seemed more disjointed, jumping around. For instance the “skewers” are in the speaker’s “ribs” but then they want to “tattoo progress into . . . palms”. I didn’t quite get the sense before that the speaker had landed on the seabed, so the “lean back” came as a bit of a surprise.

Structure and Sound

I enjoyed the contrast between the regular 4-line stanzas and the heavy enjambment such as in “or . . .fix”. I thought that seemed to reflect the speaker trying to put their fragmented emotions in order.

The most significant technique you use here I think is the mixing of tenses between stanzas, at the point where the enjambment occurs. It’s like a breaking of standard prose grammatical rules, and not just the kind of rules you find in a school book too, but breaking the rules such that the lines are no longer as intuitive to read. For instance, “watch them inflate with . . .” made me antici[pate a present continuous tense like “breaking through” but instead it continues “long sharp skewers break through”. The overall effect for me was one of jumping, fragmented thoughts.

That technique was super interesting to me, and I thought it worked well since you incorporated it into the regular pattern of the stanzas and also didn’t overuse it, in my opinion.

That's all

Overall, a great and classically whatcha piece with cool experimental grammar shenanigans.
Hopefully you found these comments helpful - and keep writing!

Cheers,
-Lim




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Tue May 25, 2021 12:31 pm
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



whatcha!

It seems that we are doomed (;)) to be enamored by each others' poems because I read this and OMG you are amazing and I loved this so much <33 I'm pretty sure the entirety of the site knows at this point that I vibe big time with ocean-related-things and ouch the visceral reaction this poem gave me was on point.

i can sop it all up or patch all the leeks or


I typically don't comment on grammar/spelling in poems, but since the spelling of this word changes the meaning, I thought I'd point it out to be sure you're aware lol leek = an onion-like plant, leak = hole that lets in water. Pretty sure you're going for leak which is the only reason I'm pointing this one out ^^

but I'm not sure
what the wrong is.


O o f -- I relate to this so hard <3

i'm bloated on emotions and
shards of my sea glass heart ride the tide -
if i can use words to drain the ocean, i can


I think the imagery works really well here! The "bloated" is a nice hint towards the sea creatures you'll bring up later and sea glass is so pretty and I think you used it really well here! The only thing I'm iffy about is the rhyme in "ride the tide" -- I do like the imagery but it's the only rhyme (that stood out to me at least) which kind of made it feel out of place since the rest of the poem isn't rhyming?

new organs are hard to come by, but jellyfish


I don't think a line of a poem has ever made me recoil as much as this one did xD

Image

^ My exact face. brain b like, No there is no 'but jellyfish' pls reconsider

But, since I had such an utterly horrifying visceral reaction to this -- I think you can mark that as a huge success lol. Very strong imagery that is strongly emotive.

i swim deep to make new memories


I really enjoy this imagery <3 I might be definitely am biased since my literal job is studying the deep sea, but this really resonated with me.

pufferfish glide past:


Fully a selfish comment here but pufferfish are a relative of the fish I study so it made me happy that they surfaced here :' )

i jam two between ribs and watch them inflate with


Aaaaand just like that, my entire abdomen is involuntarily contracting as I make the horrified face xD

i wish they were at least filled with ink
so i could tattoo progress into my palms.


Ooh! This is also really strong imagery, puts a unique spin on things!

~ ~ ~

I know I already said this because I read and fell in love with this poem before I started reviewing, but omg this poem is SO GOOD. I think you did a really, really good job of picking really gut-wrenching imagery that gave me big feels as I was reading this and really drove home the theme of the poem.

And... yeah, I think that's all I have for you!

~Shady






It seems that we are doomed (;)) to be enamored by each others' poems because I read this and OMG you are amazing and I loved this so much <33
OMG NO U :'''))) <333

I thought I'd point it out to be sure you're aware lol leek = an onion-like plant, leak = hole that lets in water.
ASDLGKASJF LEEKS I'M AN IDIOT xD Yup yup you're right, I was going for leaks.

I do like the imagery but it's the only rhyme (that stood out to me at least) which kind of made it feel out of place since the rest of the poem isn't rhyming?
Aah okay so I actually have (or have attempted to have) all the stanzas rhyming -A-A, but kinda a bit slyly - like "emotions and" and "ocean, i can" is something close to a rhyme, "heartbeat" and "sweet" rhyme, "weight" and "inflate", "ink" and "sink" - but some of them are buffered by little conjunctions and stuff or don't visually look like rhymes so I think it's significantly more noticeable if you read it aloud.
(But to your point, even with that rhyming scheme, "ride the tide" doesn't fit in with the pattern I have going so ~ I can see how that's a bit jarring, I'll take a look at changing it ^^)

I think you did a really, really good job of picking really gut-wrenching imagery that gave me big feels as I was reading this and really drove home the theme of the poem.
eep! <3 I am so glad the imagery gave you physical reactions of "oh NOOOO" because that is exactly what I was going for, this was not meant to be a comfy poem to read in the slightest. *evil villain cackle*

Thank you so much for the wonderful review Shady! <3 I thought the fish-and-water imagery might procure a fishmaster review and I was right hehe c:



ShadowVyper says...


Aah okay so I actually have (or have attempted to have) all the stanzas rhyming -


Ahhh, fair enough! When you point them out I can see them now, and the flow was nice so I probably subconsciously picked up on it, but I tend to be oblivious lol but yii, I do think the ride/tide still feels a lil forced.

I thought the fish-and-water imagery might procure a fishmaster review and I was right hehe c:


Ahaha, the feesh call 2 me and i must come

But yeah for sure! I'm glad it was helpful <3




Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.
— Marianne Moore