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Floodgates with missing keys

by Liminality


I am afraid we have lost the keys to the floodgates

can you please come back another time?

We are running from one end of the corridor to the next,

rushing to close the hip high of water crashing

where it was not supposed to crash.

.

Irrigation occurs here one room, one room at a time,

my mother shouts me out the numbers

before the water comes gushing from one room with the tidal

eccentricities of the whole atmosphere in one room,

in this weather-defying tourist location -- charming, I hope?

.

Commander, commander, let me know

before you knock upon my door,  with this need for

directions and redirections of the mood in this place.

Our ancestors' portraits are a million phases of the moon

at once, scrambling the stages of life cycles and

uprooting us from our neighbourhood so we float

modern, post-modern, aeroponic.

.

She does not hold them in her hands

before she slaps a splat of plaster over

when she dropped a stone-statement and

it shattered that tile in the floor.

Now grinning pearly white teeth, saying she's fixed it, she's fixed it

hurry up. Once more.

.

And I run because neither good nor bad

the pattern of closing one door to open another,

rinsing the hallways of memories and multiple histories,

it is the way I can claim that I live, on my own, under my own sigil.

.

Father, father, watch me now. Father, watch me now,

watch me as I hold my ground,

I hold my ground, I shut the door, I turn my back

to the outside world of strange familiarities,

and face the familiar strangeness,

watch me now.

.

I pray my agnostic skepticism

drives me to plug all of the unnatural sinkholes

sprouting between damaged cupboards

and broken plaster walls.

This is my samsara, and I will gladly stay here

if only I could put together one more

altar to compassion.

.

We must look insane from the outside,

I know we must look insane from the outside,

only she doesn't care how we look insane from the outside,

and I'm realising that neither do I, and neither do I.


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Sat Jun 19, 2021 2:00 am
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whatchamacallit wrote a review...



Hiya Lim! I'm here for the requested review c:

(Apologies in advance if this gets rambly -- it's a bit late and I'm in a rambly mood and I'm also just prone to rambliness in general @_@)

I really adore how the opening is addressed to the reader. I've got a soft spot in my heart for poems that refer to the reader as "you" -- it has a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure feel, but a poem, in which you have no choice but to adventure through each stanza. And gosh, this poem is honestly a rollercoaster read xD It starts out with the mildly concerning statement "we've lost the keys to the floodgates" and just escalates from there into utter chaos.

That being said, I think after the third paragraph (where I think the reader is being referred to as commander?), it loses the second-person thread and turns mostly into a narrative of "I" and "we". Personally, I would've preferred some continuity there -- like, if the narrator somehow addresses the reader at least once every couple of stanzas, and maybe even closes off with some remark similar to how the opening was structured. ie "I'm afraid you can't stay / we haven't found the key yet / I don't mean to shove you out the door, / but I must" <- that is an AWFUL rough example but hopefully you get the idea ^^

Another thing I noticed you using a lot throughout was some repetition; whether of words, like "father", or phrases like "one room" and "she's fixed it", or sentence structure ("I hold my ground, I shut the door, I turn my back"), or even stanza/line structure like in the final stanza. In some cases I like how it adds to the frantic, out-of-control atmosphere, but in other places it does feel a bit just redundant. Like in stanza two I adore how you repeat the phrase "one room" over and over in the different sentences, it makes it feel like the narrator is really stuck on the idea. But the parts where you repeat the second half of a sentence, like

Now grinning pearly white teeth, saying she's fixed it, she's fixed it
and
and I'm realising that neither do I, and neither do I.

-> I don't feel personally like that repetition is adding much. I totally get what you're trying to do with it, but I don't really find it to be strengthening the meaning/atmosphere. But, I'm also super picky about how I like repetition in poetry, so feel free to take that critique with a grain of salt ^^

Can we talk about imagery? Namely, WATER IMAGERY???? I adore how many water/flood images you paint in this poem. I really love the "irrigation" image in stanza two -- I think that's a fairly uncommon image to use in the realm of water imagery, so it's very fresh and interesting and effective! My absolute favourite image though has to be:
I pray my agnostic skepticism

drives me to plug all of the unnatural sinkholes

sprouting between damaged cupboards

and broken plaster walls.

Sinkholes? Sprouting? Alliteration and just super striking imagery?? *chef's kiss*

I'd say there are mainly two stanzas where you bring in some other families of imagery: stanza 3, with moon imagery, and stanza 4, with stone imagery. The moon imagery fits in really nicely because, you know, moon controls tide and whatnot -> so it was a really smooth way to incorporate a more diverse range of images, which I thought was super clever! I was a bit unsure about the stone/plaster imagery though, as it felt a bit out of nowhere and I couldn't really see how it connected to the other images. Maybe you could add in something to connect the imagery a bit better in that stanza? Maybe how the plaster never dries because it's sitting in a foot of water or ~something~ along ish-those lines.

Interpretation? Hmm honestly this was a very chaotic -- and fun! -- poem to read, and not necessarily readily easy to find a simple interpretation for. Broadly speaking, though, I think it's about family dynamics, family relationships, family heritage, maybe some family issues as well, and definitely some family quirks. (So actually broadly speaking, I think it's about ~family~ xD)

The way the narrator keeps addressing their mother, father, and whoever "commander" may be, seems to portray how they interact with these different people and their different relationships with them. For example I get kind of apathetic vibes about how they feel about their mother, and it seems like they want to prove something to their father/get his approval.

The stanza about "ancestors' portraits" being scrambled and uprooting the narrator makes it seem like perhaps they have trouble relating to their history, or don't really wish to acknowledge it/celebrate it. Then the stanza where the mother grins with "pearly white teeth" and claims to have fixed what she has broken implies the mother has broken some stuff -- whatever that may be -- and, while she might claim to have fixed it, the tone of that stanza suggests that may not be true.

One random thought about the last stanza as I'm reading the poem again -> who is the "she" being referred to? the mother? someone else?

Altogether, this was such an interesting poem to read and review, as per usual! You never fail to write really clever, layered, fun-to-analyze poems <3 I thought you did a fabulous job of creating a vibe of chaos and dishevelment, and you nailed the water imagery. I hope this review is useful, thanks for requesting one ^^

Keep writing, awesome poet!

-whatcha




Liminality says...


Hi whatcha! Thanks for the awesome in-depth review!

Yes "utter chaos" is how I'd describe this piece too :D

That being said, I think after the third paragraph (where I think the reader is being referred to as commander?), it loses the second-person thread and turns mostly into a narrative of "I" and "we".


OHH I actually hadn't noticed that, funnily enough! I think I would definitely love to rewrite this piece using 'you', that would be like some immersive artsy game where you're walking through someone's ghostly family home that's always flooded @_@ but yeah, good catch!

I originally conceptualised this thing as a ~song~ but realised I wasn't brave enough to even attempt writing music XD (can't even play a music instrument, what more come up with a tune!). I think in my head the repetitions were supposed to be echoes or harmonies, but if I think of this as a poem only I could probably cut some of them or reposition them into places that make sense when read aloud.

Maybe you could add in something to connect the imagery a bit better in that stanza?


Oh thanks, that's a good idea!

Broadly speaking, though, I think it's about family dynamics, family relationships, family heritage, maybe some family issues as well, and definitely some family quirks. (So actually broadly speaking, I think it's about ~family~ xD)


I love how you put that XD Yeah I was trying to go for a chaotic, complicated depiction of family, so that's basically it! I hoped to get some degree of conflicting feelings or ambivalence regarding the speaker, so it wouldn't feel too heavily biased one way or the other.

The stanza about "ancestors' portraits" being scrambled and uprooting the narrator makes it seem like perhaps they have trouble relating to their history, or don't really wish to acknowledge it/celebrate it.

Ah that's a nice observation! I was definitely going for some sense of isolation? Almost? That this family has from the rest of the world.

One random thought about the last stanza as I'm reading the poem again -> who is the "she" being referred to? the mother? someone else?


Ah right - it's the mother. Probably should've made that clearer, haha.

Yes, this review was very useful, thank you so much again! <3

-Lim



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Tue Jun 15, 2021 5:12 pm
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AshlynPhoenix wrote a review...



Hiya Ashlyn here for a review!! As always, please keep in mind that this review is not intended to offend you or make your writing look bad!

rushing to close the hip high of water crashing

where it was not supposed to crash.

That 'hip-high' feels a bit awkward in that context to me :D Maybe if you removed the 'of'? ^^


And I run because neither good nor bad

the pattern of closing one door to open another,

rinsing the hallways of memories and multiple histories,

Hmmmm....this certainly sent my mind chewing on the meaning of this poem!
I get the impression that this poem is about growing up, and the opportunities that does or doesn't bring? However, when you mentioned about the doors got me thinking that perhaps this is about the patterns in life, and how often, there's a pattern to opportunity?
We must look insane from the outside,

I know we must look insane from the outside,

only she doesn't care how we look insane from the outside,

and I'm realising that neither do I, and neither do I.

I love thisssss. You have such a unique perspective on the world, and I personally, found this a satisfying ending.
Aaand that concludes this review! I hope you found it helpful <3
BROUGHT TO YOU BY...
Image




Liminality says...


Thanks for the review, Ashlyn!

I get the impression that this poem is about growing up, and the opportunities that does or doesn't bring? However, when you mentioned about the doors got me thinking that perhaps this is about the patterns in life, and how often, there's a pattern to opportunity?


Both interesting interpretations! I was definitely thinking a bit about patterns when writing this.



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Tue Jun 15, 2021 3:55 am
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MayCupcake wrote a review...



Hi, Liminality!
Here's a short review for you today!

my mother shouts me out the numbers


The wording of this line felt a little strange to me. What if you tried: "Mother shouts out to me the numbers" This way when you refer to "my mother" it matches the same address as when the father is mentioned. Also, I feel this fixes the flow by having "shouts out to me" instead of "shouts me out".

Now grinning pearly white teeth, saying she's fixed it, she's fixed it


I liked your word choice of "grinning" and "pearly" here! These and several words throughout the poem adds some nice imagery and life as the flood continues on.

drives me to plug all of the unnatural sinkholes

sprouting between damaged cupboards

and broken plaster walls.


Nice way to describe the water bursting through the walls and the attempt to stop the flooding!

We must look insane from the outside,

I know we must look insane from the outside,

only she doesn't care how we look insane from the outside,

and I'm reali(z)ing that neither do I, and neither do I.


I thought that the view of the outsiders looking in at the insanity was a good way to end the poem; however, it did feel a bit too redundant to me. I know that you were using repetition at the end here, so it may be what you were trying to achieve.

Anyways, I enjoyed reading your poem! I like the sense of chaos there is in the story telling, the descriptions, and the writing itself, so great job! Take what you will from this and keep on writing!




Liminality says...


Hi! Thanks for the review! 'realising' is how we spell that word in my country (if I'm not mistaken, the spelling with a (z) is only preferred in North America). Thanks for leaving your thoughts on how different parts of the poem made you feel - that'll help me when revising this piece in the future. I like the idea of using 'Mother . . .' to match the mode of address for 'father' at the end, though I did initially intend for the mother to be described only, not spoken to in the piece. :D



MayCupcake says...


No problem!
1. Ah ok. Yeah, I'm just used to spelling it with a 'z', so thanks for letting me know!
2. You're welcome! =)



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Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:04 pm
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silented1 says...



This poem seems fun.





Writing is the geometry of the soul.
— Plato