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Young Writers Society

E - Everyone

Circus for One

by Liminality

All my dreams take place at sunset.
My sleep fills the cavernous tents,
which bloat, inhaling a non-existent wind
and make no sound when they move.

There is that calliope,
which cannot contain itself.
Even silent, the strong colours
brassy and golden,
copper and rich beer
shout over the wooden cart.
It is waiting for the signal,
waiting to be played, waiting
for someone to happen,
this empty dream.

If I flicked the side of one of those
blazing metal cylinders,
would it let go
of the breath it has been holding
or would my fingernail
glance off the surface
with an ordinary metallic ping?

The sharp first note
fumes at my hovering hand,
my indecision.
The song is accompanied
by plumes of white steam
feeding the expanding overhead cloud.

We are in a red tent,
the instrument and I.
Orange sun swims in the distance.
The melody begins panting,
then heaving slow, indelicate breaths.
Fury drains away,
rust crawls over the metal,
like many hands grabbing
a coveted thing.
Feather-down mist
obscures my view
as the calliope creeps
further and further,
through the canvas flaps
and into the light.


Questions for reviewers (if you'd like to answer them):

1. What do you think happens in the poem? (i.e. is there a story and what is it, if there is one?)
2. What would you say are the poem's themes?
3. Are there any lines which sound awkward or are hard to read aloud?
Bonus: is there anything you feel is missing from the poem?

Is this a review?



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963 Reviews

Points: 187
Reviews: 963

Tue Dec 12, 2023 1:16 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...

Hello there, human! I'm reviewing using the YWS S'more Method today!

And now, for the reviewing to begin…

Top Graham Cracker - In a far off circus, someone finds a magical calliope that breathes enthusiasm and excitement, ready to show them the secrets of the circus. (At least, that’s how I see it).

Slightly Burnt Marshmallow - No lines feel weird to me. Is there anything that I feel is missing from the poem? Not particularly, no. But I would like to hear more about the circus the calliope is in.

Chocolate Bar - Now, I could go on and on with the things I like about this poem, but I’ll only list a few. The person touching the calliope is like a friend reuniting with a friend. The calliope itself is described as alive and wondrous, full of so much joy to give.

Closing Graham Cracker -A most beautiful circus poem, worthy to be told of the calliope! I enjoyed reading this very much. :>

I wish you a fantastic day/night!

Liminality says...

Thanks for the review!

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27 Reviews

Points: 755
Reviews: 27

Mon Dec 11, 2023 2:22 am
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spottedpebble wrote a review...

I'm not sure how good of a review this will be, (especially since I'm super tired right now,) but I would like to try to answer your questions.

I think that this poem is about someone who perhaps works at a circus and sleeps in the tent when the day is over. That person dreams of playing the music for the circus using a calliope instrument. Or perhaps this poem is about the instrument.

The person is indecisive and doesn't know what to do. The person wonders if they should play the instrument, how they should give life to the music. Eventually, they start to play and their feelings pour out of them, into the music. But this calliope is powered by steam, and rust starts to take over the person's instrument, taking it away from the person and leaving them in the tent.

This poem might possibly be about/have the themes of expression, not being able to decide or choose, not knowing what's right, power being taken from someone, and music being a beautiful and powerful thing. (I'm not sure if those count as themes, but that's how I interpreted it.

I could not find any lines that sounded awkward or were difficult to read aloud or understand.

The only thing that I feel is missing from this poem is that perhaps there could be more about when the calliope is being played. But that's just my opinion.

I hope this review was somewhat helpful. Please enjoy your day. :)

Liminality says...

Thanks so much for the review! Adding more description for when the calliope is being played does sound like a good idea - thanks!

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29 Reviews

Points: 336
Reviews: 29

Sun Dec 10, 2023 10:11 pm
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farq4d wrote a review...

hey there, i thought i would leave a quick review for this poem :) first off, right off the bat i had to look up what a calliope was. i am familiar with the name calliope, as it's the name of one of the most prominent muses in Greek mythology, the muse of epics and epic poetry. i had no idea that there was an instrument that had the same name and i thought that was super cool.

once i had the image of the instrument in mind, i was able to easily visualize what was happening in the poem because of your descriptions. because the instrument uses air to produce its unique sound, i found it super befitting that you personified the instrument and brought it to life by describing it through the way it was breathing.

For your first question you left at the bottom, i would say that what is happening in the poem is a dream. the narrator told us at the very beginning that all their dreams begin at sunset, and then again at the end of the poem, the narrator describes the calliope fading into the sunset. because of this, i would assume that this is simultaneously the dream of the narrator and the instrument itself. the narrator dreams of playing the instrument, and the lonely instrument longs to be played again.

i don't know if this would be considered a theme, but i just feel a sense of longing throughout the piece.

when i read the poem out loud, i didn't find any lines that were hard to read!

overall, i really liked reading this poem. i found it really unique, the subject matter and everything. and i thought it was cool that the new thing i learned today was what a calliope was. :) thanks for sharing your work here.

Liminality says...

Thanks so much for the review! I really appreciate hearing your interpretations :D

That, sir, is the most frightening battlefield in the world: the blank page.
— Larry McMurtry, Comanche Moon