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[lover] and over

by Hijinks

this sun(f)lo(v)(w)er turns her head to the
sun, seeds crispening like marshm(e)a(d)(ll)ows
under the warm golden syrup that seeps
through a late summer sky to flood her chlorophyl[l

over] and over she always tries to
keep herself awake when the sun sets,
but always her petals hang heavy
and her head sinks like precipitation-weighed
clouds into her neck, leaves
mu(r)d(ere)d(y) in the dark;

always she just misses the (st)(m)ar(k)s
and must listen to their message on the dew-
-netted answering machine in the morning

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542 Reviews

Points: 41664
Reviews: 542

Mon Jan 10, 2022 2:38 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...

Hiya Seirre!

First Impressions

Right off the bat, the atmosphere of this poem seems to be one of loneliness and melancholy. Somehow it seems as though as the only thing alive for miles is this one sunflower, and its looking to the stars for companionship. It could be romantic companionship, since the word “lover” appears here and there. There’s also a contrast between this being a ‘sun’flower and the yellows of the first stanza and then the more greyish colours in the second stanza with “precipitation-weighed clouds”. I thought the ‘three act structure’ seemed new (? potentially?) for your poetry, Seirre, and it drew me in. The imagery shifts thrice (from bright happy sunflower to sad sunflower and then answering machine) and that creates the feeling of a ‘complete’ narrative, which I thought was interesting.

The letters in brackets seem to give alternate interpretations of each line: sunflower/ sun lover, marshmallows/ marshmeadows, chlorophyll/ lover, leaves murdered/ leaves muddy, misses the mark/ misses the stars. I think the speaker is trying to simultaneously convey two stories, rather than trying to ask us to choose one.
On one level, I see that the sunflower tries to stay awake past its bedtime to look at the stars, but “just misses” them, and only sees the dewdrops left behind in the morning. (Dewdrops strike me as reminiscent of stars? Like stars, but water @_@) On another level, the sun lover seems unable to communicate directly with their love, always just missing the mark. I’m not sure to which the “marshmeadows/ muddy” versus the “marshmallows/ murdered” (if that’s how those images are paired) fit.
Overall, I think the narrative of the poem is about someone’s effort to make contact with someone else, and their almost-success in the end.

Structure (plus a bit more interp oops)
The fact that the brackets embedded a sort of ‘secret message’ or alternate set of images kept me staring at the poem for longer. It’s definitely an attention-grabber, and I thought I got more out of it from having my attention be held there for so long. :D The one that didn’t seem to fit in with the others was:


On a third read now, I think the enjambment there conflicts with the square bracket in how they divide the letters on purpose? Like at first I thought it was chlorophyll/ lover, now I think it’s showing me chlorophyll/ over, but the ‘l’ wants to stay in the word ‘lover’ so it’s hanging on to the back of that square bracket. If so, well that mirrors the story of the sunflower just nicely then.
Some of the enjambments made me wonder if there was a purpose there:
this sun(f)lo(v)(w)er turns her head to the

and her head sinks like precipitation-weighed
clouds into her neck, leaves

Somehow, since the line cuts off at a noun, the images I imagined were fragmented and didn’t ‘flow’ quite as nicely as one would expect. Not sure if that was to convey a fragmented voice? This is just a feeling, but for this poem, I get the sense that it would read the same if these particular lines were end-stopped.
I wonder what it would be like if that “answering machine” image was foreshadowed more? I think the idea of the ‘lover’ kind of hints early on that this isn’t ‘just’ a poem about a sunflower – so I didn’t feel like an image like “answering machine” came entirely out of nowhere. Though I have a bit of trouble situating the food images like “marshmallows” and “syrup” and at one point tried relating them to the answering machine. Is it because those might be breakfast food, and the lover picks up the answering machine in the morning? :0
Still, I like the contrast between “warm golden syrup / late summer sky” and “precipitation-weighed clouds/ leaves murdered or muddy”. How it develops is a really neat transition – neither too fast nor too slow – and the transformation seems to convey how the wait is weighing on the sunflower/ lover.

An interesting poem, Seirre, and I think it’s different from some of the others I’ve reviewed! I know I’ve probably read this before since you said it’s from NaPo but I feel as though I’m seeing it for the first time @_@
Keep writing!

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621 Reviews

Points: 4984
Reviews: 621

Thu Jan 06, 2022 7:15 am
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Rook wrote a review...

warning, I'm typing this on my phone so there's sure to be typos and incorrect words!

This is a lovely, languid poem, heavy with rich imagery. It puts a lot of emphasis on the wordplay with the letters and it can be fun like a puzzle to figure out what those wirds are. However, it definitely makes the reader stop dead in their tracks to sit there and puzzle it out. In a poem with a subject matter so lazy and flowy, I'm not sure that's a good thing. The little puzzles
themselves (not the words in them) didn't really seem to have much to do with the subject matter. It'd make sense for a poem about a miscommunication or a code that needed to be cracked. If the words changed the poems meaning to be opposite of itself depending on how you read it that might also be cool. As it is, I can't see a benefit to doing it this way and not just sound something easier to decipher like "sunflower/lover" or "sunflower-lover", "marshmallow meadows" or "marshmeadows", etc.
Also, some of these puzzles took me quite a ling time because the parentheses didn't work how my brain wanted them to. I know this logistically wouldn't work for your words, but I wanted the letters ouside the brackets to spell one word and the letters inside to be added to spell another word, but not have to figure out which bracket to use for each word.
(un)d(erst)a(n)d > understand + dad
under(s)(t)(and) > under + stand? + sand?? + and???
I had the biggest problem with the murdered/muddy one. I was trying in my head to pronounce mudd and then murderedy and realizing that was wrong, went on to muderey and mury and muerey and all sorts of wrong words. actually, I got murder quickly but I was trying to figure out what the second word was.

one last little note, the stars/mark(stark/mars/etc. there's far too many words to can make out of this) thing doesn't make sense if you use mark. it rhymes and the wordplay with "misses the" is clever, but if you choose to read it that way, them the "their" of the next line doesn't make sense and I'm left if a muddle.

Anyway, enough about all that. those bit are probably the most memorable part of the poem (to that end, they feel a bit like a gimmick. don't get me wrong, i love a good gimmick poem, but I'm not sure it's working in your favor here), but there is in fact more to the poem of course.

the content seemed a bit... saccharine to me. Or too metaphorical? Literally, it's about a sunflower who looks at the sun and when the sun sets gets tired and doesn't get to see the stars. I'm not sure what the dew netted answering machine represents. There's an indication that the flower is a lover, but I'm not sure what the stars represent if anything to the lover. I honestly think exploring the idea of a flower that physically cannot stay open to see the stars is a really cool idea. As your poem is right now though, it feels a little bogged down by extraneous words. Some parts that seemed the most distracting to the meaning of the poem (other than the puzzles) were:
"seeds crispening like marshm(e)a(d)(ll)ows
under the warm golden syrup that seeps
through a late summer sky to flood her chlorophyl[l

over] and over"

"like precipitation-weighed
clouds into her neck, leaves
mu(r)d(ere)d(y) in the dark;"

I think these similies are too... I don't know how to describe it. The poem already feels like a metaphor, so adfing similies into a metaphor feels like too much symbolism. And the literal subjects of the similes don't make sense. The first one boiled down is basically saying "the seeds get crispy like a marshmallow under syrup" and then there's yet another metaphor for what the syrup is like. but first, marshmallows don't get crispy under syrup! is the syrup meant to represent fire somehow? You can see how I get lost in this I hope. Also tonally, marshmallows and syrup don't seem to fit the very natural, pastoral vibe of the rest of the poem. I like how the answering machine at the end doesn't fit, but that's because it's at the end and things at the end of poems are allowed to break rules.
The second quote there is better because clouds fit the theme. it just seemed like a lot to have this simile right after the previous one. Also, "into" her neck seems like an odd way to phrase that. Okay i just reread it a few more times and i realized that you're saying her head sunk into her neck like precipitation weighed clouds. that makes more sense than how i was trying and failing to read it, but the simile still doesn't make sense. clouds don't have heads or necks. i know the simile is referring to the sinking motion and nothing else, but it all gets a bit tangled.

If you want this poem to overwhelm the reader, that's a strategy you could employ, but it's like to see that in the content of the poem. I could see it if the scent of the flower and the brightness of the sun and the xyz sensory feelings etc. all added up to be too much for the narrator so there were stacked metaphors, but as it is, I'm craving a simple presentation for a simple theme. doesn't mean there can't be beautiful imagery that's rich and sensory, but it's like to stay in the fertile of flowers and not end up in sugar land or cloud land. Or if you want to pivot, flag that motion more clearly. it would make sense to focus on the sky since the stars are a big part of the poem! but I just want a bit of a transition, just a word or two.

Okay, I've been rambling a lot! I just had a lot of thoughts about this poem. I really did like the meat of it once I studied what was at it's core, now you just gotta polish and cut and refine until it becomes the poem you want (which could be completely different from the one i want).
good luck with revisions, let me know if you have any questions, and keep writing!!

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