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the solidarity of fire

by Kafkaescence

the last time I tried to find poetry in burning, I lost my neighbor in a house fire. now I'm all char and no coal—
tracing the future in the snow with a stick
while triangulating the past in a woodstove; what else
can I do, in this world that was designed not to matter.

outside, there is a snowfall that could touch the bone
but I don't burn for warmth:

when the relics all turn black
even a house fire
won't save us
and we'll freeze
like one big family portrait.

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110 Reviews

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Reviews: 110

Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:17 pm
ImHero wrote a review...

Part 1 - Structure

When I was first introduced to you, which was not so long ago I might add, I read a beautifully and eloquently written review about stereotypes. I expected your poems to be so emotional by the introduction of new words, emotion from logical standpoint and a demonstration from a lifetime of wisdom. A few of these qualification fell short but generally speaking it wasn't the content that threw me off it was the structure.

This poem has the tendency to ignore rhythm altogether. The first line break is established right in the middle of a idea. I don't quite understand. This bad practice in poetry happens all to much but this example is specifically bad.

the last time I tried to find poetry in burning, I lost my neighbor
in a house fire. now I'm all char and no coal—

This is how the majority of people will read this

"the last time I tried to find poetry in burning [pause] I lost my neighbor [pause]
in a house fire [pause] now I'm all char and no coal [pause]"

You firstly, establish a greater pause at the end of the first line by making the second one double spaced. I don't see the reasoning for this structure, it would have much better been introduced like this:
the last time I tried to find poetry in burning,
I lost my neighbor in a house fire.
now I'm all char and no coal—
racing the future in the snow with a stick
By no means, is this okay either, and also I am not telling you to use this. I am simple trying to portray a good way in which rythem is established, one idea without a line break or a punctuation.
For example:

"Once upon a midnight dreary, [pause] while I pondered weak and weary, [pause]
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,[pause]" -Poe

The rhythm is established with one idea separated by a comma and the 2nd line matches the 2 lines in the amount of syllables (around). So when the average person reads this they can easily set into a rhythm.

*by idea I mean a phrase of words that work well together.

Now the inconsistency in the stanzas per line makes it hard as it is, and I am generally just confused at the double spaced part of the poem. I'm sure you have a reason but not everyone can realize this reason so when the average person reads it they are just confused. This type of ambiguity is not good for any poem. Firstly, you technically have 5 stanzas which should only be one stanza. The amount that the reader has to pause, the time it takes for the brain to focus on the next line, is increased even more in the middle of a phrase. So how we read it makes it harder then even an essay format will present it- which I feel you are more use too.

The rest of the stanzas contain the same problem.
won't save us
and we'll freeze

I don't like contractions in poetry, but I see why it is good in this case but am confused again why it is in two lines. Also this stanza needs the top stanza so why not combine them?

I think you get the gist of what I am saying, even if you don't agree with it (which is fine), so I will continue to the content part of the review.

Part 2 - Content

I love the title, I believe it expands the message.

"the last time I tried to find poetry in burning"
I don't quite get this. The last time you found poetry burning? I don't see the need for the *in* word.

" now I'm all char and no coal—"
I don't see the reason to add and no coal, essentially telling the reader you are all char would be suffice so the wording may seem a little redundant.

"tracing the future in the snow with a stick "
I like this, it sticks with the reader.

Okay so in the stanza (or stanzas) you explain that you are tracing the future in snow and tracing the past in a woodstove, to me it is like the past is in fire or hot, and the future is in cold. Symbolically this would leave the reader to foreshadowing that the future is good, given the past of the character.

I'm not quite sure why the poem leaves us here:
what else
can I do, in this world that was designed not to matter.

It seems like it would be good but it belongs in another poem or somewhere else in this poem. See I wouldn't look at these words and say it matches perfectly with the previous stanzas. It might belong in a new stanza or have some words to clarify the meaning. I guess I am suggesting to play with the words. Although in another sense you are saying "I am not designed to matter so I just observe the future and the past." Then the imagery of the cold and the fire brings into a nice effect but is that the main message you are sending?

*What I am trying to say in the above paragraph is it leads the reader to some ambiguity which could be a good or bad thing.

"but I don't burn for warmth:"

The placing of burn is nice in this context.

In the end the poem leaves us in a very pessimistic tone, well done.

Part 3 - Emotion

The emotion was good. The tone was set very well but the structure made it very hard to see the tone and analyze it properly.


So this poem needs some work but it very awesome because it shares a concept with many literacy devices and is interesting to read in that way. Of-coarse, when anyone looks toward the deeper meaning of a poem it often gets mistranslated so there is a big chance that I missed it completely.. also when I write about rules to a poem, just know that almost everything in poetry is debatable. The last thing I would like to say is that this review usually only looks toward the bad parts so keep in mind that this poem is far from being bad, I just didn't always agree with the structure.

I wish you the best,

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116 Reviews

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Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:21 pm
InfinityAndBeyond wrote a review...

Hi, It's my first review so i'll try my best to be helpful. :L

I think the poem was very descriptive but it didn't necessarily flow together rhythmically, in the sense that the starting was a bit of a confusing opening in relation to the rest of the poem because it seemed more like the start of a story rather than a poetic beginning.

Your second stanza had more of a poetic flow to it and i like the last line best, "We'll freeze like one big family portrait." You also gave good imagery throughout.

InfinityAndBeyond x

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562 Reviews

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Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:49 pm
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Button wrote a review...

Hi there. This will be brief, as I don't review much anymore, and it's for the reason that I generally do a poor job of it.
Let's get through it then.

I really like the contrast of temperatures that you have here all throughout the poem. You have nice imagery and sensations, but all the same, the flow does not carry it through-- especially, as pengu pointed out, with that horrid first linebreak. I like the charcoal play on words, but I think it's more distracting than actually effective. I'd leave that up to your discretion.

The use of triangulating is over done, the line about the world was a bit overdone as well. Perhaps not overdone-- dismissive? Overly dramatic? Something.

I really like the opening of the second stanza, but "relics" feels out of place with the rest of the poem's diction.

Overall, nicely done. I mostly like this for the contrast and sensory stuff you have going on here-- the linebreaks and general flow could definitely use some work (maybe at the end, as well), and I'd sort out your diction because it's kind of everywhere. Nice job overall.

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Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:29 pm
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Audy wrote a review...


So good to see you ^-^ <3

This immediately strikes me with the existential/philosophical tone that is so often expressed in poetry, which is just to my liking. The strength of these types of pieces always seem to me the breadth of themes and thoughts discovered, like, you have this great ability of depicting these complex ideas in such a clear and concise manner, and so it comes across really well, it's crisp. But the weakness of these pieces always tend to be this assumption of the grandiose idea should be central to the piece, as though the speaker is trying to impose a mindset set on the reader, or tell the reader how the world really is, and that's when these existential stuff falls flat. I'm not saying I don't like them, because I love them, and I really like this piece, I'm just stating what I think is inherently a weakness of the style.

This part:

tracing the future in the snow with a stick
while triangulating the past in a woodstove

is beyond me. I have no idea what this is. I do like the images though, the winter/snow and the woodstove, I think that is quite nice. I just have no idea why you would want to triangulate a "past" and how does a woodstove play in? ;-; omg!math in poetry, y u do this to me, Kafka?

The next stanza though is more of my area of expertise. I love the frost/burn imagery. The last line reminds me a bit of Cat's Cradle and Vonnegut. ^_^ I think it's stellar. It'd be cool if you could connect this image to a tangible moment though, like, why does this revelation matter, even if you state it does not matter, it does. That's why the poem is written. Or, what was the spark that led to these thoughts? Something else is needed so that it remains grounded and accessible, that we might sympathize or connect with the speaker. Plus, it'll help keep it not so much abstract/wishy/washy? Least, that'll be my suggestion, but you can take or leave any or all of that.

I hope this helps at least in some way though!

~ as always, Audy

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Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:58 pm
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dogs wrote a review...

Hello Kafka! Dogs here with your review, I thought I'd repay the favor. Ok so firstly I think this is a good poem, it has a style that's a little more out of the ordinary then what I usually read. On a minor note, of course in poetry grammar is completely up to the author, I'd suggest that maybe you put capitals at the beginning of sentences, it's nothing that's necessary but I think it just looks nicer and little more consistent. Completely up to you though. Alrighty, lets dive in shall we?

The first line is interesting, drawing the readers attention, but the rhythm is not very smooth. It seems to me that it's more of a short story rather then a poem. I like the use of "burning" of the first line though

As you continue I still have an issue with the rhythm. You often have a long line followed by a shorter line and it throws the general feel and imagery that your trying to create off. Maybe to fix that problem you could say:

"the last time I tried to find poetry in burning,
I lost my neighbor in a house fire.
now I'm all char and no coal-"

To me thats just easier to read and really gets your point across smoothly. I do like the line "all char and no coal," great imagery and good choice of words.

I love the last two lines of the first stanza, great imagery and choice of words. "tracing the future in the snow with a stick" is certainly my favorite line. Although the "past in a woodstove; what else" line all on the same line is throwing off your rhythm a tad.

For the first line of your second stanza, I think you should use a different word then "touch," here is a great opportunity for you to put in a good 100$ word. Touch just seems to be too simple of a word in this line when you could use such a stronger word instead.

You should have a comma after "bone" in the first line of the second stanza. You have all the grammar things going for you except the capitalizing of letters, so you should stay consistent with that unless that lack of comma really adds to your writing, which I don't think it does.

Again, you should have a comma after "won't save us" in the fourth line of the third stanza. Makes the flow stronger and makes your writing sound a little less choppy.

I think you have a strong ending here, leaving the reader with some unanswered questions which adds to the strength of this piece. All and all I think this is a good poem in need of just a few things to polish up. Keep up the good work!

TuckEr EllsworTh :smt032

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Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:51 am
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PenguinAttack wrote a review...

Hey Kafka,

It's nice to read some poetry from you after that delightfully odd pun run!

Your first line is mega awkward for me at the moment, the rhythm is all off. I think I know where it is off, in fact, it's off in the "tried to", I think. The line is too long and shucking "tried to" (and then making it "found") would smooth out that rhythm. It would however change the meaning of the line, which is pretty important. If you're going to keep it I feel like you need to instead (omg this is a better idea!) move "my neighbour down to the next line because then omg beautiful enjambment! Enjambment and fixing up some of that way awkward rhythm.

I like your use of charcoal here, it's not exactly clever but it's very nicely done, I smiled when I saw it for that reason. I'd to say that I like the net two lines, and I do, although I read "future" as "figure" every time. I think that your last line is less nice. It's too direct for me. I want to say instead move "what else" down to fit with "can I do" and shuck that bit about the designed world because it doesn't do anything for your poem, even the meaning of your poem doesn't need it, because we like to close the gaps in our mind sometimes.

Mur, I prefer "that touches" rather than "Could touch" because what you're using is too passive for this poem - I think my suggestions are forcing your poem to be more active and maybe you don't want that so just disregard anything useless, yeah?

I love how this ends, the freezing in one big portrait. I hate the lead up. I hate it because it's jagged and there's little to no rhythm between "warmth and "portrait". Now, the use of anyway on it's own line is solid and I am not questioning that, I like that. It's the three lines above. They're too short and too well formed to be positioned like they are. You read the lines quickly because that's how they need to be read by the words. Which is mostly to say that this bit feels too much like a sentence and is too difficult to read that way.

My suggestion is a pretty big one in the way of structure. But I'll give it to you anyway. Shift the "when the relics" down. And then,
when the relics all burn black
even a house fire won't save us
and we'll freeze
like one big family portrait.

Here I lose "anyway" because "freeze" is a stronger, sharper image against the portrait. This does change a lot, so you keep it how you feel it, I have my own weird style after all! I do think you need to consider the lines though, whatever you do with this poem.

This is good though, it really is nice to see a poem from you and this one has quality. It's good. Hit me up, as always.

~ Pen.

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Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:41 am
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Trident wrote a review...

Hello Kafka, my few, and perhaps inadequate, thoughts:

the last time I tried to find poetry in burning, I lost my neighbor

I am just unsure of the gerund usage here. I mean, it's somewhat awkward phrasing and it stopped me cold while I attempted to not only figure out what was meant by it, but also if it was grammatically correct. Now of course it is since it is a noun, but it just didn't have that feeling that I was translating it correctly. And I don't think you really want that sort of hesitance in the poem.

now I'm all char and no coal—

This is intriguing, but I'm wondering what you want to get out of it. Coal isn't necessarily the result of fire, while char is. It sounds neat and all, but maybe you want to allude more to what you want coal to represent here.

tracing the future in the snow with a stick
while triangulating the past in a woodstove;

These are some nice lovely images and contrasting nicely; they work well with the lovely fire and ice themes that seem to prevail in so many works.

what else
can I do, in this world that was designed not to matter.

Eek, I felt right there with your narrator, but now I'm just wondering if they are just kind of a whiny baby standing at a woodstove and drawing in the snow. I know you're connecting that whole tracing/triangulating imagery toward the designing idea, but it just screams melodrama. Can't our narrator say that the world doesn't make sense or doesn't matter some other way than to poke us in the eye with it?

outside, there is a snowfall that could touch the bone
but I don't burn for warmth

Good stuff again. And again we have the wonderful theme of ice and fire being different yet the same. I like "touch the bone" particularly.

when the relics
all turn black even a house fire
won't save us and we'll freeze
like one big family portrait.

The family portrait thing is interesting, but I feel like it brings back that whiny tendency of the narrator. Perhaps that could all be solved with the absence of one particular word: "anyway". I think that really helps create a bit more subtlety, which I can always get onboard with.

Hopefully my help wasn't too far out there. This is a nice piece that has some traditional themes within, but done differently. Nice work.

I don't do time.
— Liberty