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by PersephonesGarden

I want to be merciful.

(to be holy- outside the throngs of desire)

Can forgiveness exist without someone’s blood?




What’s the difference?

If righteousness requires cracked ribs and aching lungs, then I refuse.

I will never break your bones.

Have mine instead,


I am entreating, smiling, a benevolent goddess

bathed in blood.

There’s a hole in my side

(like our Father who feels no pain)

I offer you my rib

you devour it like a dog

-your mother/daughter/martyr

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544 Reviews

Points: 41689
Reviews: 544

Fri Jan 12, 2024 8:20 am
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Liminality wrote a review...

Hi there! Lim here with a review.

Themes and Interpretation

Something I thought was interesting was how your poem deals with emotion. The poem seems to depict martyrdom as a kind of ‘freedom’ from strong emotion. The speaker compares themself to someone who “feels no pain” and wants to be “outside the throngs of desire”. Despite being “bathed in blood”, they are “smiling”.

Additionally, ‘martyr’ here seems to mean the more general sense of the word, sacrificing oneself for the sake of something or someone else, rather than the specific religious sense of the word.

I also interpreted the poem as suggesting that people desire to be cruel to others, with the lines:

I want to be merciful.
(to be holy- outside the throngs of desire)

This seems to imply that the opposite of mercy, which based on the rest of the poem could be cruelty or punishment or violence, is something people “desire”.

As for the speaker in the poem, they are portrayed as someone who either is different or wants to make themself different from the masses. “throngs” can mean crowds, and they want to be “outside” the throngs. There are two rhetorical questions in the poem that seem to question some received wisdom along the lines of ‘forgiveness comes at a cost’ or maybe ‘make the punishment fit the crime’. The speaker declares their refusal to participate and instead seems to absorb the cost of the “you”s actions. The ending line makes me think this doesn’t lead to a good outcome for the speaker, since all the “you” does is “devour it like a dog (eating a rib)”.

Language and Imagery

Something I liked about the language was the consistent voice. I thought the speaker had a distinct personality and voice throughout, with the consistent use of religious diction (“martyr”, “Mother”, “entreating”, “goddess”, “Father”) and images of bodily injury. It created this intense tone.

I also liked the contrast created in these lines:
I am entreating, smiling, a benevolent goddess
bathed in blood.

I thought this was quite striking and conveys the irony of ‘benevolence’ coming at the cost of more violence, but this time to the giver of mercy and not the taker. The position of the line break also helps highlight this irony.


Something I thought could be improved was the structure of this section:
What’s the difference?

I think the “mother/martyr/daughter” comparison doesn’t appear again until the signature. Because of that, I didn’t really get what the “difference” or “similarity” being drawn here was.
Some of the guesses I had but which didn’t quite make sense given the text of the poem: - - Does the ‘daughter’ eventually become the ‘mother’?
- Or are ‘mothers’ and ‘daughters’ both martyrs? If so, then why ‘mothers’ and ‘daughters’ specifically - why aren’t ‘Parents’ and ‘children’, or ‘friends’ and ‘friends’ martyrs?

I get the sense there’s more unspoken context there but I don’t quite know what it is. Perhaps it is worth expanding on, if you end up revising this poem.

Something I appreciate about the structure is the use of end-stopped lines in the first half, as in, lines that ‘complete’ a thought by their end rather than running on to the next line (creating enjambment). The poem just has a couple of instances of enjambment, which helps those instances stand out. Having the rest of it be end-stopped also creates more variety in rhythm, which I like.


This poem explores some interesting ideas – I particularly liked the consideration and observation of the ‘martyr’’s unusually serene (and maybe even dissonantly so) emotional state. There was also a good bit of unity between the different images and between the beginning and end of the poem. My main suggestions for revision would be to consider expanding a bit on the martyr/mother/daughter connection, if that’s something you feel is important to the meaning of the poem.

Hope this helps! And keep writing!

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84 Reviews

Points: 224
Reviews: 84

Sat Dec 09, 2023 1:54 am
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ariah347 wrote a review...

Hellooo persophone! I saw this as a featured piece and decided to give it a read - I am very happy I did!! I loved it! I hope you're hungry because I'll be serving up my favorite cookie: Oreos!

For the first cookie 🌑: we will discuss the positives because who doesn't like to hear the good things first? This piece's focus on the trichotomy of roles: mother, martyr, and daughter is phenomenal! Your descriptions blurs the boundaries and lines of these roles. There is a yearning for compassion and mercy while a level of religious imagery is brought in with gusto! You have symbolized the martyr who is self-sacrificial offering themselves for the spare of someone else. The refusal to embrace righteousness through violence and the poignant plea to offer oneself, akin to a sacrificial rib, really emphasizes this well. There is beauty here within the benevolent goddess and it is equally dark as you have visualized the blood bath. This sort of paradoxical imagery is hard to keep within the confines of not over doing it, but you have not! The allusion to a hole in your side, reminiscent of a divine wound, further deepens the spiritual undertones. The symbolic act of offering a rib, paralleling the Bible, carries a weight of selflessness. You further this also by capitalizing "Father." There is also specific intentions behind your lines and their structure that I notice. Each section help heighten the theme, intent, and messages behind them.

For the cream ⚪: I usually reserve this for suggested ways to improve works. For many, this part of an Oreo is their favorite, but isn't it maddening when things are reversed? Great writing and writers leave readers wanting to reread - not for the purpose of analyzing negatively, but to re-appreciate the work! This has been dubbed that! I fail to find any suggestions, and I find even more the need to reread to reinterpret or get new appreciation. Bravo!

For the last cookie ⚫: like all good things, even cookies, come to an end, we summarize. Overall, your expression, both entreating and smiling, captures a complex blend of vulnerability and strength. The rejection of inflicting harm on others, even in the pursuit of righteousness, speaks to a higher-level commitment to mercy. The final lines, describing the consumption of the offered rib, infuse a sense of raw reality, highlighting the visceral nature of sacrifice. The ties with religious imagery expand this to newer heights (pun intended ᵕ̈ )

Wishing you well wherever you are in the world!

With love, a

PersephonesGarden says...

Thank you so much for the review!! It%u2019s so encouraging to know you liked it %uD83D%uDE0A You perfectly understood everything I was attempting to communicate which is very relieving (sometimes i struggle to have actually coherent poems that other people can understand %uD83D%uDE05) Thanks so much for taking the time to review!

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King Jr.