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so many shadows

by Pompadour

a tattered strip of royal blue
stares me down every time 
i flick my eyes towards the window, the bars
like jagged teeth fallen victim 
to severe dentistry;
stark straight and starkly cruel, 
the nightscape exists to tease me. 

the stars remind me of
the lights that sent shadows skimming across
the porch back home, like sentient beings.
i was afraid to whisper sometimes, i'll admit,
because i felt the shadows would whisk
all my secrets away.
i still watch them glide the walls of my room, you know,
and i like to talk to them. i wonder if my words
still reach you, in this moth-eaten, tattered, cardboarded world,
where the people shriek and the walls scream
am i nothing to you now that i'm gone, i wonder?
are we nothing, in the end?

i flick my eyes towards the windows.
mornings are ten times more severe than nightscapes,
and that's on the good days.


i have forgotten how to sleep.
breathing is a mechanical process
and the remembering is uncalled for;
it grasps me by the jaw every night and destroys me.

i can see you standing by my door,
in a house, on dry land, 
a small patch of Memory. and you ask me
to drink midnight.
i watch as shadows come dancing
from your fingertips, strange patterns i do not 
the walls cave in and out on me. i moan.
i do not want--do not wish--do not have the strength--
to stand by and watch you die again.
so i stare at strips of tattered royal-blue and try to forget
that there is such a thing as just existing.

ivy snakes around my ribs.
i try to forget. i try to forget.
thorns scrape the side of my face.
i try to forget. i try to forget.
a flash of steel against shrubbery.
i try to forget. i try to move on.
wide eyes going from grey to green to ochre. 
submittance. revival. quick, painful death.
i try to forget. please don't let me fray.
there was blood.


i speak to you every day now. i hope that you can hear me.
do you remember, back when i was me
and you were she,
how most of the time, we would lie with our legs
tangled amongst the bushes
and pretend we were walking in barbed wire?
you always had a thirst for adventure and you told me
that you'd drink the sky if you had to. 
we laughed back then, like it was
meaningless fantasy, but now i remember the scarlet
and i shudder. 

they have taken away the binds.
now there are only chains.
they clink when i shiver. i moan and they
laugh at me. they sound like the glass bangles mom
brought for you from India, and you wore them that night
when your eyes turned ochre.
i wish i had heard them, back then.
i wouldn't have to live with
hearing them every day.

the keeper told me to stop moaning.
i'll always moan for you. 

can you hear me?


it is cold. it is freezing.
i have not slept. my gruel has turned
to ice; turned to stone; turned to nothing
i will ever digest.
the cabin-mates whisper
of more bombings, of more guns, of more
children dying, children dead, children's corpses on the streets.
more men shall join us tomorrow, they say.
more broken men, some like me
who do not know why the earth drags beneath them--they wear 
bandages congealed with blood.
and others we are told are evil, cruel
and merciless.

there are no definitions when you are in a prison cell.
variation is punished without reason.

men fighting over strips of royal-blue: scraps of green, dry land.
                   jagged teeth jagged teeth; bangles clinking I love you in morse.
                                                 there is fear, there is fear, there is so much confusion.


there is blood. there are shadows.
there are no good days.

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401 Reviews

Points: 1658
Reviews: 401

Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:52 pm
ThereseCricket says...

This is utterly amazing Pomps! :D

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58 Reviews

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Reviews: 58

Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:35 pm
jessiethought wrote a review...

This poem is very good, full of powerful emotion and powerful imagery. Now that I read your response to Vivian, I understand your subject more. (I support Israel, but the death and pain of Israelis and Palestinians both is a tragedy, the tragedy of innocents caught up in the evil designs of people who want to crush Israel, when Israel wants peace, but has no choice except to fight or be destroyed. Israel's just trying to do the best they can, under the circumstances. I have compassion for both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.) Gaza is a touchy subject.

So I understand your intent to create a more ambiguous, less controversial subject by leaving out details of what is going on--and despite the absence of several key facts (where this is, why this is happening, questions like that) the narrative and emotional draw of the poem is still strong.

Your lack of capitalization is appropriate in this poem, for the most part. I'm a little bothered by the lack of capitalization of "i." I suppose you wanted to keep the lack of capitalization consistent, but leaving the word "i" lowercase in this instance distracts me from the language and meaning of the poem. I feel that not capitalizing "i" is unnecessary. I, personally, would like "I" capitalized. But whatever you prefer.

mornings are ten times more severe than nightscapes,

This line is confusing to me. I don't understand what you're trying to say with it.

The imagery of ochre eyes is also a little confusing to me, just as it was to Vivian. Maybe the description of events in that area of the poem is a little too vague....

Great work with this poem. You're right--without mentioning Gaza, this poem could have many different interpretations. The language and imagery is beautiful. Keep writing!

~ jessiethought ~

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221 Reviews

Points: 1476
Reviews: 221

Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:33 pm
Vivian wrote a review...

Okay, I get that one of these characters is a girl and that she's in an asylum of sorts. But I do not get where the war fits in and the other person in chains. I like your descriptions and the word choice, despite not having names the characters feel like people. So I just have to ask where this is set and what ochre eyes had to do with the shadows? It's still a great poem I'm just confused.

Pompadour says...

It's about the minor Palestinian prisoners in Israel, being held in administrative detention--especially the ones from the Gaza Strip, who do not know why they're being detained. I was vague on purpose since I'm writing from a chosen point-of-view (and this could strike many as a controversial topic) so I chose not be specific.

So make of it what you will. ;)

Thanks for the review!

Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else's path unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.
— Ellen DeGeneres