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16+

heart-roads and head-colds

by Que


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

speeding down a dark road with no headlights,

the adrenaline feels nice but

eyes are dry in the quick-cooling night:



it’s hard to see our way ahead.



I tilt my head back to feel

the wind whipping my throat raw,

pouring in through the cracked window,

pushing past my cracked lips into my lungs;

my nose begins to run.



I’m used to my hand on a gearshift,

5 speeds and reverse, but you drive an automatic

so when you ask, “Is this ok?”

the only answers are “gas” or “brake”.



“pull over,” I want to tell you. “hold me,

but not too close.”



cough drops held between our lips, medicine melting

on our tongues and dripping down into our lungs:

we would kiss.



but my voice is gone,

so I nod my head in the darkness,

feeling the warmth of your hand as you press mine

into the steering wheel,



neither of us knowing the curve of our road.


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Sun Sep 25, 2022 12:20 am
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lliyah wrote a review...



Always adore your poetry Que <3

So this poem to me felt very intimate - with the bodily descriptions of what appears to be a close partner encounter. I think it is really tastefully done where the reader could maybe read into this as a intimate moment between partners, but doesn't necessarily need to read that into it either. And then the extra layer of the sickness imagery and the driving imagery put on top of it makes this very layered and unique. I'm glad you keep all three of those motifs going throughout the poem because it gives it a great sense of cohesiveness but also a sense of mystery because those three themes of intimacy, driving/road-trip, and sickness don't usually go hand-in-hand.

My interpretation would be that the speaker is conflicted with where they want the relationship to go - expressed most painfully by this couplet:

“pull over,” I want to tell you. “hold me,
but not too close.”

Oof <3
the speaker may be experiencing hesitation even in these moments of intimacy where they're not sure whether they want things to progress or stop; and they also don't know in the scheme of the entire relationship quite where they're wanting to go, and amidst it all feel like they have some sort of lack of control maybe with the voicelessness and the sick imagery - > it's interesting at the end that the speaker's hands are pressed into the steering wheel - so there's definitely a sense that they remain having agency in this decision, but yet "neither of us know the curve of our road" / it looks like maybe both of them are conflicted in where they're trying to go next.

I think a lot of people probably have had experience in being in the place where they're not sure if they want the relationship to go forward or stop and I think the pairing with the "sick/ dizzy" imagery is very fitting too because it's a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach to be indecisive or unknowing about something so major and vulnerable. Interestingly though, I don't think love is usually portrayed in that grey light of unknowing (certainly not in movies or typical literature!) so that makes this poem all the more impactful.

Love the opening image you used:
speeding down a dark road with no headlights,

the adrenaline feels nice but

eyes are dry in the quick-cooling night:


Don't know if you've accidentally ever hit your headlights or lost them in the dark - but it is totally an adrenaline attack of terrifying - and then for the speaker to be so non-chalante about it with "the adrenaline feels nice but my eyes are dry" gives this sense of them not being totally concerned with their personal safety or having this sort of disconnected view of reality / risk.

Side note -> I really like the ambiguity of the whole scene where to me in a few places it's really unclear what's physically happening or quite where the sentence is going, but yet there's enough there for your imagination to make assumptions or fill in the gaps.

for instance -
cough drops held between our lips, medicine melting
on our tongues and dripping down into our lungs:
we would kiss.
but my voice is gone,
so I nod my head in the darkness,


^^ the image of this is really hard to follow what that would look like physically -> two people holding cough drops between their lips -> but not kissing -> because speaker's voice is gone -> so they nod is darkness (so subject can't see their response / lack of response) it's so winding and yet all the images work together.

Two little critiques /
I thought there was something a tad clunky about these two lines:
"I’m used to my hand on a gearshift,
5 speeds and reverse, but you drive an automatic"

I think what's being said is the speaker is used to more control over situations, but here they feel like they're out of their element in this relationship or life situation? For some reason it took me a little to get my head around what was going on in that.

"neither of us knowing the curve of our road."
^ I wonder about the choice to use "our" road rather than "this" or "the" / because on one hand that brings the two back together so it implies maybe they will stay together; on the other hand - the whole poem makes it seem like the two are rather disconnected so it feels like the final line almost solves the question for the reader.

Those are just two minor preference things, but really this is all a fantastic. Overall the imagery is perfection - it's emotional and unexpected and vivid, and the poem definitely packs a punch where as a reader I'm left with a lot of sympathy for the speaker's situation.

Let me know if you had any questions about my review or things you wanted more feedback on! Have a good day!

alliyah




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Sun Sep 18, 2022 8:35 pm
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Seirre says...



Hi Que! I'm dropping by with a comment for you for the Comment Weekend Bonanza!

I love, love, love poems that are built around a very specific image or scene, but that evoke universal feelings or moods in the reader - and this poem does that exceedingly well. The contrast between the specificity of the imagery and the vastness of the feeling that comes along with it is *chef's kiss*. Like for me, this poem feels overwhelmingly like that feeling I get when I'm simultaneously excited for the future and so nostalgic for the past that it makes me nauseous.

I thought the use of dialogue was a lovely touch!

so when you ask, “Is this ok?”

the only answers are “gas” or “brake”.

This exchange seems so simple at first, but I feel like there's a lot of hidden meaning you could analyze out of the quick back-and-forth of the dialogue. It could be about the direction their lives are headed, it could be about situational consent, it could be about pursuing a relationship, or something totally different - and each angle lends the poem a quite different interpretation which I really enjoy! I'd be curious to hear what interpretation you might have had while writing!




Que says...


<3 Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for all your kind words! c: I think you pretty much nailed the original intent with "situational consent", but I was also drawing on a larger-scale "where is this going and are we going there together?"



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Fri Sep 16, 2022 1:45 am
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

I enjoyed this poem! You convey the environment super nicely throughout with stunning imagery and pair it with super simple stanzas every so often that are just so impactful. To me, this poem seems to be about... not necessarily being content with being helpless, but being okay with it for a little bit because of the companionship that can be found there. The poem's message also feels like it touches on holding back and trying to forget, just because of the whole "driving at night" aspect. I also enjoyed your "heart-road" metaphor for both perhaps true feelings and the future—it was a neat way of looking at it.

I love how seamlessly you blended your references to being on the road to feelings to being sick. It was so great how those seemingly unrelated things combined in this poem to create this very unique narrative that also spoke to larger truths. If I'm being honest, I'm not sure the title registered in my brain, so as I was reading, I was a little confused but still got what you were getting at, and then I saw the title, and everything clicked. I love how the title works with the work itself and sums it up in a fun little phrase with some great assonance. Speaking of which, your usage of sound devices was great in this poem—for one that mentions not having a voice, I think your alliteration and enjambment were really nicely executed.

Your alternating stanza lengths were also quite compelling; I'm not sure if you planned it out that way or if it just happened to end up like that, but it gave the poem nice variety and really made it just... interesting to read, if that makes sense. The variations worked really nicely with what you were trying to say, and the shorter stanzas somehow both stood out and amplified the longer ones, too.

Specifics

pouring in through the cracked window,

pushing past my cracked lips into my lungs;


I thought the connections between the cracked window and cracked lips were really nice here; it's super cool how they both also kind of have different meanings, too, and neither of them indicate destruction in any way, which cracking normally signifies. There was a slight moment though where it felt like you were just... reusing a word, in a way? So maybe if there was more connections between them it would be more obvious. This could also just be a me thing; upon the second read, I find I didn't feel it as much.

cough drops held between our lips, medicine melting

on our tongues and dripping down into our lungs:


This sensory appeal is amazing. I feel like I can almost taste the menthol going down my throat. It's really great, too, with all of your other mentions of cold throughout, both temperature wise and also sickness wise.

Overall: nice work!! This poem had a super consistent feel to it and your images were absolutely gorgeous and really hard-hitting. I hope to read more of your work soon! Until next time!




Que says...


Thanks so much for the review! It's been ages since I posted a piece here so it's kind of affirming to get such positive feedback. :') Really good point about the usage of cracked, I wrote both lines separately but then thought they might work well back-to-back, so I really did use the same word without thinking about it.

And good to know about the title helping with the fusion of two subjects! I wasn't really sure how they worked together, either, but I wanted them both to be there; maybe I'll work more on making it seem natural and purposeful.

Also, really cool to see your interpretation! I am never sure what anyone else will make of my poems because they don't know the source material, so that was really neat for me. :)




The simple truth is that authors like making people squirm. If this weren't the case, all novels would be filled completely with cute bunnies having birthday parties.
— Brandon Sanderson, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians