z
  • Home

Young Writers Society



all the baggage tags i didn't throw away

by Hijinks


i. the suitcase
- i packed it until i didn't know if i could zipper it shut - this is how i bring my personality along for the flight. i need these clothes, rolled and folded, to fabricate an impression of me, to supply the airport security with tangible evidence that i am real and not a hollow shell. they should know that if they put me to their ear they will not hear a seashore.

    - when i'm feeling unbearably hollow, i just eat another outfit. stuff myself on cotton and polyester and denim until i have a stomach ache and all the waistbands dig into my belly.

- some toiletries:

    - floss, to pick threads out of my teeth and buttons from between my gums.
    - deodorant, in case i throw too many layers of clothing onto myself and swelter in the heat wave. that would be a halfhearted effort to look more substantial, appear more huggable, but the sweat and tears would ward away any prospective takers.
    - shampoo, toothpaste, a nail file, contact lenses, hair mousse.


ii. the carry-on
- i've crammed infinite panic i've missed something vital right on top, easy to access and always on hand. every time i peer into the tote bag, i see it leering at me, urging me to dig deeper and make sure i packed my sanity, my phone charger, my intrusive thoughts, that one psychedelic pin, sunglasses, some Advil, a bit of insomnia.

    - i haven't forgotten any of them, of course, but i spend the entire flight hunting through my bag to reassure myself. i'm like a child in a sand pit, but with more urgency and less competence; no plastic trowel, just peeling hang-nailed hands.

- a red camera. undoubtedly, i forget to live in the moment and craft everything into future memories instead. a day at the beach turns into a day at the beach i will remember a year from now and forget two years from then; a day i never really lived except through a lens. brighter, filtered, cropped, zoomed, framed just how i like it. i can't capture the smell of Miss Vickie's salt&vinegar chips, tingling in my nostrils, or the feeling of wet sand under my finger nails, and if i'm not careful this realization may overwhelm me.
- boxes;

    - a box to collect shells and sea glass and the smell of salt.
    - a box to collect all the spiky thoughts that form between 11:02 pm and 1:47 am, whiplashed from the fan that whirls in the motel room. i hear cars on the highway 50 feet away, rubber-on-road like the sound of nostalgia spinning out of control.
      - nostalgia for the way this could have been. a boisterous group of friends forming stories they will tell their nieces and nephews ten years from now. we could make poor decisions and be stupid, rash, and young. i would not be lying awake in bed at 11:03 pm. i would still be asleep in bed at 11:03 am


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
1231 Reviews

Points: 144350
Reviews: 1231

Donate
Sun Sep 25, 2022 1:42 am
View Likes
alliyah says...



I really love everything about this poem and the winding trip that the reader goes on with the narrator, it's a delightfully creative take on a list poem too as I would absolutely never think to format it this way; but it very much works. I am always anxious about packing too much / too little so found the thought process very relatable even in the very literal sense. :)

Thanks for writing!




User avatar
138 Reviews

Points: 3825
Reviews: 138

Donate
Thu Sep 01, 2022 8:50 pm
View Likes
SilverNight wrote a review...



Hello Seirre! I'm a huge fan of list poems, and this is an especially interesting one. I usually don't see them with "sub-bullets" (I'm not completely sure that's the right word to use, or if we just call them bullet points under more bullet points) because it can sometimes add visual clutter to the poem, but that's in theme with this so it works very nicely here! I think it gives the impression that this was meant to be a more simple packing list before the narrator got the urge to elaborate on several matters so as not to leave anything out, and their anxiety caused them to get a little carried away on it. This poem is also packed full with metaphors (I was going to say that even if it wasn't a pun), and I'm really impressed by the variety of them!

I quite like the use of past tense in the title, while the rest of the poem is written like the narrator is preparing for something yet to come. To me, it suggests that while the narrator is about to embark on a journey, this is not their first travel like this, and so they are still carrying the baggage, emotional and literal, that they were taking along with them on all the previous trips and are unable to let go of them.

Combined with my impression that the narrator doesn't seem to fully know where they are going, it makes me feel like this won't be their last travel either. They're already carrying a lot with them, and they plan to keep carrying more, which sounds like it's going to get to be a burden if it isn't already. I really like how you use the word "collecting" for it, because it implies something different than the narrator just buying souvenirs-- they're gaining more of what they already have instead, so it's like their burden is compounding. They're probably even collecting things that aren't in the poem, like passport stamps and suitcase weight. This is really interesting to me as a frequent traveler!

i. the suitcase
- i packed it until i didn't know if i could zipper it shut - this is how i bring my personality along for the flight. i need these clothes, rolled and folded, to fabricate an impression of me, to supply the airport security with tangible evidence that i am real and not a hollow shell.


Oh I love how you perfectly conveyed that the narrator feels both overflowing and empty without actually using either of those words! I love the opposites here of how they won't be able to carry anymore (but they're inevitably going to have to if they keep going) and yet still worries their possessions aren't enough to fill that hollowness. It's interesting to me how the suitcase with their personality seems to be the checked bag (from how the other bag is the carry-on), implying that they're going to very numb on that flight while the suitcase is away from them in the hold, even though airport security is mentioned in this part and generally only carry-on bags are the ones that have to go through it.

I really like how the security gets used as a way to show the narrator's vulnerability. I half-expected there to some worry that going through a part of it (maybe the metal detector) would reveal the narrator was hollow anyway, and maybe some imposter syndrome if it showed they weren't, but I like the idea of the narrator trying to "stuff themselves" with indicators of identity and personality to actively hide it better!

- floss, to pick threads out of my teeth and buttons from between my gums.


This was a very interesting line, though I'm not entirely sure how to interpret it. Maybe that the narrator feels a little dehumanized and mostly just the shape of a person, somewhat like a doll, from the materials mentioned? That makes me curious, because maybe dolls could have buttons as teeth, but it's intriguing why the narrator might try to unravel themself by pulling those things out if that's the case.

- shampoo, toothpaste, a nail file, contact lenses, hair mousse.


I like that some physical elements make it in along the abstract ones. Most of the physical items on this list are used as metaphors for something abstract, but sometimes you do need something concrete and tangible to bring along (and this is a trip after all XD).

ii. the carry-on
- i've crammed infinite panic i've missed something vital right on top, easy to access and always on hand. every time i peer into the tote bag, i see it leering at me, urging me to dig deeper and make sure i packed my sanity, my phone charger, my intrusive thoughts, that one psychedelic pin, sunglasses, some Advil, a bit of insomnia.


Whew I love the depth here. The implications of something infinite being stuffed into a bag that is so very finite in its cabin carry-on size, where everything is already fighting for space that's going to get even more cramped, are really thought-provoking. Insomnia and intrusive thoughts are something the narrator wants to have with them and not left behind, despite their negative impacts, probably because they can't bear to lose something that's entirely their own and be left without something to hold on to about themself, and how even harmful things can be too hard to let go of once they've become deeply linked with your sense of self really resonates with me.

i'm like a child in a sand pit, but with more urgency and less competence; no plastic trowel, just peeling hang-nailed hands.


This metaphor was a little unexpected compared to the rest that are focused on luggage and travel, but it's creative and I love it! It feels very nostalgic, especially when the memories of beach days are mentioned later.

i can't capture the smell of Miss Vickie's salt&vinegar chips, tingling in my nostrils, or the feeling of wet sand under my finger nails, and if i'm not careful this realization may overwhelm me.
- boxes;

- a box to collect shells and sea glass and the smell of salt.


This part might be my favorite because of how the narrator realizes they can't ever grasp and pin down that smell of salt, and then right afterwards tries to find a way to hold on to it as long as they keep traveling. It's also the first time the narrator seems to have a clue of where their destination is; it doesn't seem final, but their goal for now seems to be able to find the ocean and be able to collect what they gather there. Since this poem feels like it's got a big story between the lines, it even feels like there's foreshadowing that the narrator will not in fact be able to capture what they're looking for and have to keep hunting. I'm not sure that's what you were trying to imply, but it gives the impression that this poem is the middle of a story and there's an unspoken, unwritten end (and beginning, with all the travels that seemed to have happened before this) that can still be spotted and read here!

- a box to collect all the spiky thoughts that form between 11:02 pm and 1:47 am, whiplashed from the fan that whirls in the motel room.

i would not be lying awake in bed at 11:03 pm. i would still be asleep in bed at 11:03 am


The nuance that the narrator has just entered that time of "spiky thoughts" and is already wanting to be done with it really highlights the narrator's unstable situation and the need for something to seal it all away in. The presence of the motel room definitely makes me think that the narrator is in the middle of a travel and is ready going on another, which could be part of the "beginning" I keeps thinking precedes this poem. The lack of a period in the last sentence is super fascinating to me and I feel like it could mean a lot of things-- maybe that the narrator did actually fall asleep before adding it, or was going to finish their thought but got too overwhelmed by the nostalgia and spiky thoughts? Having one would make the last line more final, which is why it really feels like there's more to follow that we can infer from what we know the narrator is doing. That's a really nice touch!

This was a super great take on a list poem and an incredible subject to write it on. I'm really impressed with your creativity and detail, and you've done some amazing storytelling! A lot of this was interpretation, which I hope is okay because you added a lot of depth to this and I hope I managed to catch at least some of it. Thank you so much for the wonderful poem, and I hope you're having a great day! <3

- silver :)




Hijinks says...


Ah thank you for the fabulous review, silver :) I absolutely loved hearing your interpretations and musings! I found your interpretation that the poem is taking place in the middle of some journey and has an implied start and end to be especially interesting; I can't say I had that explicitly in mind while writing, but I think it reflects what I was processing while I was writing the poem! Thank you again for the wonderful in-depth review <3



User avatar
178 Reviews

Points: 34
Reviews: 178

Donate
Mon Aug 22, 2022 4:34 pm
View Likes
MaybeAndrew wrote a review...



First impressions
This was a fun poem! It uses the interesting setting of packing to capture a variety of emotions -none of which are super positive though. XD My favourite line is:

- i haven't forgotten any of them, of course, but i spend the entire flight hunting through my bag to reassure myself. i'm like a child in a sand pit, but with more urgency and less competence; no plastic trowel, just peeling hang-nailed hands.


Critiques
I feel like this poem is kinda trying to do things. The first half of the poem is kinda written from th perspective of the suitcase, or at least trying to use that mepthore. Lines like
when i'm feeling unbearably hollow, i just eat another outfit. stuff myself on cotton and polyester and denim until i have a stomach ache and all the waistbands dig into my belly.
or
floss, to pick threads out of my teeth and buttons from between my gums.

At the beginning kinda start the use of the metaphor, but its not continued, this is confusing, and I think takes away from the overall feeling of the poem. I'd either cut that or expand on it.

Strengths
The poem is certainly very original. It's really interesting how you start with a normal idea, (like a box for shells) and then continue it into the metaphor, like a box to collect anxious thoughts. The voice is also well done, a good mix of informal but still readable and poetic.
Overall Thoughts
Overall, I like the poem, my only real complaint is what I said at the beginning. If the metaphor usage was a bit more consistent, it would be a bit more powerful, but that's just my two cents, hope it helps!
All in all, this poem masterfully captures the feeling of traveling as an anxious person, and in general living in an overactive mind.
Thanks, and keep writing!
Andrew




Hijinks says...


Thanks for the helpful review, Andrew! I can totally see where you're coming from in terms of having a consistent metaphor throughout the poem. Funnily enough, I actually didn't intend to make it seem like the first part was written from the perspective of the suitcase - it was just meant to be an description of the human narrator's identity based on how they pack their suitcase - but I can absolutely see how it would read that way. It's helpful to know that that's how it comes across! And regardless, I agree that having some more continuity with the imagery would be good.




We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
— Arthur O'Shaughnessy