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E - Everyone

A Part-time Bucketmaker

by Hannah


He is standing on the sidewalk
with his palms up
asking the sky
why and why
all his hard-sown crops are dry.

The clouds are alive with heavy gray
and at the black edge of failure
he goes on his way
and drops his hands down
and drops his eyes down.

Behind him, a raindrop falls,
but he is already long browned and past.

Home among the singing dry husks of beans
he prays for water, as he has each day,
to flow by chance from his neighbor's bay.


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272 Reviews


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Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:49 am
alliyah wrote a review...



Hi Hannah! I hope you're doing well!

I just thought I'd leave some of my comments.


Word Choice
This is a really beautiful poem. The language isn't quite elegant, but it comes across as very real, like something anyone could relate to (maybe because I know a lot of farmers, that helps...) The phrasing I also read as having (or being able to be interpreted at least) very spiritually - with the repetitive prayers, the "asking the sky", and the clouds being "alive".

The style of piling on adjectives in unconventional ways was interesting, and made me have to read it a few times to understand even though at first glance the words are all very basic.

I didn't see any spelling mistakes, or grammatical marks that were distracting - so good job there.

Sound
In the first two stanzas, your rhyming and use of sound devices, is very pleasing to the ear. I like the repeated use of the "s" sound in stanza 1 along with the repeated "i" sound. I've never heard the phrase "why and why" before - I'm not sure if it's intended to be read as being part of two phrases. As in: "I asked the sky, "why?" - why did all my crops dry?" or if it's mimicking the phrase "by and by". I'm not sure this is important either way, it gave me some pause reading through initially, but then I just accepted the unique phrasing, assuming the repetition was for emphasis and moved on. If you want it to be read as mimicking "by and by" I think it would clarify to put dashes between why-and-why.

In the second stanza again you are successful in creating nice sounding lines that roll off the tongue. I felt that the second line of stanza two was a bit long for me, maybe because the following lines are all tight at 5 syllables, and this line doesn't have any internal or end rhyme to give a break from it's length. The word failure just sounds a bit out of place, or maybe removing the word "and" would remedy this. - This might just be me being nitpicky though; like I said overall you have such a strong start!

While stanza 3 & 4 aren't quite so melodic sounding, breaking up stanza 3 into it's own two lines, does make the reader pause and see a sort of turning point. We get the insight into what the farmer can't - the raindrop.


Interpretation
Now as far as interpretation, I've read this a few times now and still am changing my mind about what it means. I'd be curious as to what you were thinking when you wrote it, but I'll give you my interpretation.

I read this, similarly to the reviewer "znale1" that there's this farmer and his crops, his livelihood is dying because there isn't water. Now in stanza 1 this interpretation is already challenged by the fact that he's standing.... on a sidewalk! But let's forget that for a second. So the farmer prays to the weather gods, or the sky, or nature, or his own god or however you want to interpret that. He gives up prematurely though, and doesn't recognize the signs - it's going to rain! The sky is gray! He turns his back on the field, stops praying, and stops looking up to the god(s) or to hope. As a reader after that, I start going into quite a few different directions. I'm not sure if it rains after he leaves, if it ever will, or if the clouds decide not give their rain. The plants & the farmer after-all are only at the "edge" of failure" - but yet they're described as black (not a good sign if you're a horticulturist) but maybe the "black edge" is just a figure of speech. So the rain drop might be a literal raindrop, or it could be a tear. The tear could be coming from either the farmer, or the god's or sky itself.

The second line of stanza 3, "but he is already long browned and past" makes me wonder for a moment if the farmer died, to find his "home" among the field. But line 2 of stanza 4 seems to conflict with that interpretation. By the time I get to stanza 4, I'm looking for some resolution for our sad farmer, and wondering if it will clarify the rest of the poem. But instead you leave almost a riddle. (Maybe I'm the only one confused at this point, but this is just my interpretation). I'm not clear on the significance of the beans being singing ones (unless this is a jack and the beanstalk reference), and then the punchline - the neighbor's bay, has water! This makes the title have a bit of irony. It's odd that the word "chance" is thrown in there ("flow by chance from his neighbor's bay") because if you're praying - that is an intentional act, and ideally instrumentally, not really something that a "chance" might result from. I interpret this last line as meaning A) the god(s) have already answered the farmer's prayer, he is just too set in his ways to recognize it, and what he really needs is a bucket not a rainstorm. or B) the "neighbor" is like "heaven" or the "clouds", so this is just reiterating that the farmer is praying for water, that heaven could just give.

The second interpretations, is that the farmer story is more of a metaphor for anything we do in life, or maybe the water even goes so far as to represent life/health.
And third interpretation is that the "farmer" is really a guy who makes buckets, and he needs rain for other people to have misfortune and buy his buckets. But this interpretation is probably wrong considering the line about the crops being his own.

Questions and Contradictions
After reading, I'm left with a few places that I found confusing.

I've mostly already mentioned these like the sidewalk and the black edge. Another confusing part was the "singing dry husks of beans" I guess I'm just wondering if there was any significance that they were "singing" apart from it sounding poetic. I wouldn't say any of these parts need to be changed if they really match with your intention and interpretation of the poem's meaning, but just thought I'd say that I found them a bit confusing.

Overall I really enjoyed reading and pondering this piece, like any good poem it leaves you thinking long after having read it.

Best of luck in all of your writing!

~alliyah




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Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:39 pm
PusheenTheCat wrote a review...



This is PusheenTheCat here to write a review and today I am going to be telling you about your story by stanzas.
First: "' He is standing on the sidewalk with his palms up asking the sky why and why all his hard-sown crops are cry"' This was a okay way to start but I think that you could do better like without saying the words why and why twice I think that you should have only put one. Another thing that this is okay that needs work is it really doesn't make sense.
Second: "' The clouds are alive with the heavy gray and at the back of the edge of failure he goes on his way and drops his hands down and drops his eyes down."' This was one of the other things that I really didn't like but it was still good so far. First this is reminding me of my life and what is going on right now with me.
Finally: "' Behind him, a raindrop falls, but he is already long browned and past. Home among the singing dry husks of beans he prays for water, as he has each day, to flow by change from his neighbor's bay."' This was one of the pat that was good but out of nowhere there was no warning there was just change and that is what I didn't like about this.
Keep writing and hope to see you in the future and as long as you keep writing I will keep reviewing. Until next time.




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Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:25 pm
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marmalade wrote a review...



Hey, Hannah!

Wow! This poem is really good. I found some of the repetition unnecessary:

why and why

and
and drops his hands down
and drops his eyes down.

but that's a minor issue.
I had to read the poem over twice or perhaps more to really understand. The first I read it I was confused especially with the line:
but he is already long browned and past.

and the line:
Home among the singing dry husks of beans

When I read it the second time I really understood the poem and really felt the ending. It's really quite powerful if you really think into it. Some poems are powerful immediately but I had to sit and think about this one for a bit. I rather liked that though because it added more meaning to this poem (I think). I makes me think of people asking God why they are going through times and other people are happy. It's something we can all relate to.

marmalade




Hannah says...


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, marmalade. Glad you enjoyed and got some thoughts from it. :)



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Sun Jan 08, 2017 9:45 am
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znale1 wrote a review...



Hey Hannah!

I really like your poem, because it seemed a bit different, which at times confused me.

I was caught between two ideas of what the poem was based on. My first one was quite literal in which his crops on his farm actually died and he was distressed, which, in the way you have described, be poetic. The second one was that his life wasn't going to well, after much success, which would be more poetic than the first idea I had.

I like your use of the poetic devices, especially personification. I feel as though some lines could use more emphasis for example the first line. I feel as though it doesn't quite catch the readers attention right away. Maybe try replace he with a noun and add a verb or adjective before like, "The lifeless body stands on the sidewalk".

"Behind him, a raindrop falls,
but he is already long browned and past"
and
"he prays for water as he has each day,"
seem to contradict each other, which confuse the reader a bit. It's like saying when there seems to be hope he turns away knowing it's useless, but he still prays for hope everyday.

I think there are some smaller mistakes such as grammar, but I feel like everyone does it, so it shouldn't matter much.

I hope this review wasn't too harsh but I hope I see more of your work in the future,
znale1




Hannah says...


Znale, thanks so much for your review. It has given me some things to think about in terms of the solidity of this poem.

I am not sure if you are interested in further interpreting the poem as is, but if you are, I would encourage you to think about the differences in the sources of water and how he treats them in this poem.

Thanks again for your review!

Hannah




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