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Sleepless Hours

by ThePretentiousEnema

Ascending through grey sky, another echo from the sirens; screeching down below.
An emissive cloud squeezed against our window, then twirled on through indifferent snow.
Inside, nicotine habits pacify our appetite; another day passed by without food,
and as the neon lights flash on and off, our will is such again; temporarily subdued.

Searching the outside trees for a hint of life; the hazel air robes each naked arm.
Left disturbed day and night; sleepless hours, adhering to the authoritarian psalms.
Each little chipping bird, distorted and mute; their clogged throats marks another spring gone defied.
Like missionaries with shattered honor, one by one, they all sought out our window,
and with broken necks, dispersed upon each sideway walk, I watched as they were all shoved aside.

Mildewed water flows down our pharynx, washing down the Thorazine; it’s tearing us apart,
and as your company slips away, the odor of ashtray breaks in; reminding me of liberty's broken heart.
Living on a thin line, on the seventh floor; haunted by these urges I'm trying dearly to escape,
while down below, the workers all lined up keep marching on, tears covering each empty face.

I see a spider clinging to the leaves of dry flowers, scattered across the window plane;
they crumble to dust as she goes, what a perfect observation; such little things keep me sane.
Along the city tops, they buzz to no end; black cars with iron crosses, holding order under sway.
Now the dusty radio on the kitchen table talks of the annual colony shot into space;
step by step, we are all being moved away.

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890 Reviews

Points: 33
Reviews: 890

Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:32 pm
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PenguinAttack wrote a review...

Hullo Preten,

I'm here as requested and I'm very much ready to rip this apart. First: rhyme. If you're going to rhyme, we don't want Dr Seuss rhyme, where it's incredibly obvious that is what you're doing. We want subtlety, we want to be surprised that it was rhyme. Your rhyme right now is obvious and distracting, I suggest you try removing it altogether, I'm not sure what your intention was in using it. Rhyme often adds a sing-song quality or extra rhythm to a poem, your lines are far too long for either of those things to be possible right now. The sing song sense would have worked with your subject matter, the teetering on the edge and the like.

So, this is way pretentious - I know! A surprise - and you don't justify it. The words are too big, too much with the lines you have. All of your images are muddled because of this, we're trying to shove too much in our mouths at one time. If you aren't going to delve more firmly into prose poetry, trim your lines down, they're not doing anything good for you right now. You have a narrative here, don't get me wrong. A long, boring narrative which lacks any poetic feel. There's no emotion for me in this piece, it's just "Oh terrible place oh terrible blah" there isn't even a sense of feeling going on, the narrator is empty. What is wrong with an empty narrator? No feeling is no connection, no connection is no memory. I've already forgotten what goes on in your poem, I keep having to scroll up and check again. Strong images and feelings make strong connections that people can't ignore and which they remember.

Be ruthless with your lines, pare them back until they are at their base. Once at their base, look at what you're saying and attach a feeling to each line. Hope, sadness, nostalgia, whatever will work as long as you're understanding what you're trying to say. Poetry isn't about telling a story, it's about experiencing a narrative. It's about feeling involved and a part of what the poem is saying. I recall that you don't like imagery because it feels like a cop out, or something similar, ignore that and consider your images here. They're symbolic and have meaning but they're boring and flat. We need some life in those images, those words, even when they're talking about death or nothing. This isn't about having upbeat images, it's just about having lines and phrases which involve a level of universal connection.

I'll show you an example of what I mean using your final stanza, this is what I'd do:

A spider clings to the leaves of dry flowers,
Crumbling to dust as she scatters,
what perfect observation; little things keep me sane
they buzz, black cars with iron crosses; hold sway
The dusty radio on the kitchen table talks
of the annual colony shot into space
Step by step, we are all being moved away.

It would need punctuation, you also need punctuation if you're going to nix the rhyme, which I strongly suggest you do. What I've done is reduce your stanza to the key elements, inserted some strong line breaks to make suggestions of meaning and intent. The result is a cleaner, more succinct though also more expressive stanza, if I do say so myself. If, however, you decide what you have is your preferred style; cut out some of those unnecessary images and connecting words, sharp lines are more memorable.

I look forward to knowing if you change any of this.

~ Pen

Well, I got what I asked for, it seems. I'm the getting the vibe that you are just a tidbit biased when it comes to me, aren't you though, Pen? <3

Not even a little biased, you asked for me to rip and so I did. I could be nicer next time if you like!

You're always so lovely to me! :)

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161 Reviews

Points: 3068
Reviews: 161

Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:37 am
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kayfortnight wrote a review...

Wow. Scary. I can see this dying place in my mind now...I love that you actually manage a rhyme scheme without making it really obvious. If I don't notice it rhymes immediately, I consider that one mark of a good poem since most rhyme schemes feel forced.

The imagery is beautiful, in a scary kind of way. You definally get the feeling of death and fear. Sorrow, too.

It took a couple of reads, and I'm still not sure I 'get' this poem. It probably doesn't help that I don't know what pharynx or Thorazine are, although I get the impression from the setting that the person in question is swallowing a drug or poison. Am I wrong? I figure pharynx is a part of the throat because of larynx.

Thorazine was a drug previously used to treat schizophrenia. And pharynx is a part of the throat.

The point of the poem is more about conveying a feeling than making a statement; a psychotic man gazing out on a kind-of futuristic, industrial North Korea.

Thanks for the review!

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25 Reviews

Points: 649
Reviews: 25

Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:45 pm
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Swiftfur wrote a review...

this poem is really haunting, but in a way, sad. But there are a few parts i didn't get, such as, "Down below, the workers all lined up keep on marching on, tears covering every empty face."
What are the workers marching to, their deaths? Earlier, it says "The birds won't sing anymore, absence marks the will of another spring defied Like missionaries with shattered honor,one by one, sought us out and broke their necks and died." Are they trying to save the person on that story?"
I like the way you give lots of detail and let your reader picture that lifeless winter.
Keep writing!<3

I didn't want to be too specific, but since the mentioning of factorial alarms, I always imagined the narrator to live next to some industrial part of town. So the workers would most likely be factory workers -- pretty much slave labor.

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1238 Reviews

Points: 35807
Reviews: 1238

Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:45 pm
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niteowl wrote a review...

Overall this is beautiful and haunting, like a love poem for crazy. The rhyme is so good I almost didn't notice it.

Like missionaries with shattered honor, one by one, they sought out our window
Broke their necks and died

This line is really long and disrupts the flow. Perhaps you could make it more compact?

Water flows down my cervix, washing down the Thorazine; it’s tearing us apart

Um...the cervix is the barrier between the vagina and uterus. I'm almost positive you meant larynx.
Also, Wikipedia revealed that Thorazine is an old-school antipsychotic that isn't used much anymore. It sounds good, though, so there's that.

Overall, very lovely, just clear up a couple things. And as always, keep writing! :)

Holy crap, what the hell was I thinking? I mix dem English words up sometimes...

Thorazine is old-school, which is why I picked it. I thought it went well together with the whole "fascistic sci-fi"-theme somehow.

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303 Reviews

Points: 11152
Reviews: 303

Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:23 pm
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StoneHeart wrote a review...

Wow, this was amazingly well written.
It gave me feeling, a feeling I can't really put my finger on. . . a feeling that you where pointing at something.

Your grammar is really good, though I'm more used to this kind of thing when it rhymes a bit.

Good work. . . would you mind telling me the punch line? I'm just a little slow for this kind of thing.

There is no punch-line, really. I just fell in love with the idea of a suicidal schizophrenic shut-in observing a futuristic fascism regime through a window; no hope, just order.

A Prince of Darkness Is a Gentleman
— William Shakespeare