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E - Everyone

An Atheist Preaches the Gospel

by RavenLord

Clay-dyed roads

Soak up summer perdition

As pickups trundle through the doughy air,

Coughing out exhaust and Willie Nelson.


A lone magnolia tree stands at the center

Of a field choked with cotton spores.

It quotes FaulknerĀ 

While the field quotes Wright

And the mockingbird in the magnolia's boughs

Quotes them both.


A deer heavy with unshed velvet

Wanders a flagless state

Blissfully aware of the kudzu and muskodine

Oblivious to the invisible predators stalking it

With constitutional practicalities in their hands.


I sit alone on my porch in suburban Mississippi

And pretend to know these things

Because poets learn to lie

When painting pictures.

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User avatar
525 Reviews

Points: 27067
Reviews: 525

Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:17 pm
Tuckster wrote a review...

Hi RavenLord! I hope you remember me from my roleplay days all that time ago. It's definitely been a long time since we've run into each other, so allow me to jump into a quick review of your work today.

You introduced several heavy themes and ideas throughout this poem, and I enjoyed the way that you had a powerful command of words. You used strong verbs and descriptive and specific nouns, which crafted a compelling narrative packed with various themes. On the whole, it was a very well-done poem! Let's move onto some of my thoughts on things you could change to make your message more compelling.

First things first, I think your opening line was actually one of your weakest. It could be effective for you to begin the poem describing the roads, but thematically it was lacking, and the image you used wasn't terribly original. You could maybe describe a cold creek cutting across clay-dried roads, or dust settling on the well-worn road. You're far better at creating imagery than me, so I'll leave this up to your creative discretion, but some editing may be needed there.

Something else I noticed is that you brought in your narrative voice towards the end, which to me felt like a missed opportunity to develop some progression of that voice. Rather than this narrow view of the narrator, if you introduced it towards the beginning with the attitude of "I wonder these things as I sit on my porch" and end it with "I pretend to know these things", you've worked in a character arc to your story. And as a super tiny nitpick: Changing the word "know" (in the last stanza) to "understand" may have more of the effect that you're intending. Up to you, just wanted to point that out.

Finally, I understand that capitalization is a stylistic choice and that there is no correct way to capitalize in poetry, but I'd like to encourage you to give this article a read. Aley says this far better than I ever could and it's a highly worthwhile article, but I'll summarize its relevance to this poem real quick. Basically, capitalization has different effects on the reader, as I'm sure you know, and capitalizing every line can disrupt flow unless you're using meter or rhyme or another device to establish flow. Capitalizing the beginning of every sentence generally allows capitalization to fade into the background, which lets the reader sink into the poem's themes. Finally, opting for no capitalization creates a stream of consciousness, but it can be tricky to get the hang of, and it's not the best choice for every author. I'd suggest trying out some different styles and then figuring out which one accomplishes your goal for this poem the best.

Overall, this was an excellent poem with strong and well-incorporated themes and imagery. My main suggestions for you are to 1) improve your opening line, 2) rethinking when and how you bring in your narrator, and 3) re-evaluating your choices regarding capitalization. I hope these thoughts were helpful to you, and please feel free to reach out with any questions! It was good to interact with you again :) Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


RavenLord says...

Thanks for your review, Tuckster!! These were all excellent points, all of which I'll try to remember. I definitely need to touch the poem up a bit if I'm going to enter it in a literary magazine, and your critiques brought up some great things I hadn't noticed.

User avatar
22 Reviews

Points: 479
Reviews: 22

Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:38 am

quick question...I'm kinda confused about your title choice. Could you explain that?

RavenLord says...

Sure thing! So, the South is often stereotyped (somewhat accurately) as very Christian. I do live in the South, but I was the born in the North and identify as atheist. So the title is the atheist (me) talking about the gospel (the south), which is something an atheist wouldn't really have much experience with. It relates back to that final stanza.

Okay, thanks for clearing that up!

RavenLord says...

No prob!

User avatar
171 Reviews

Points: 419
Reviews: 171

Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:03 pm
Vil wrote a review...

Hello there, @RavenLord! It's Squire Vilnius, here to review your poem about Southern preachers and Willie Nelson XD

My first impression is just-- yes, this is Southern, you've done this so dang well, I almost used my drawl when I was talking to myself about how much I love this poem.


Moving on.

I really can't think of anything that you really need to improve on in this poem! Apart from a lack of commas (which I believe may have been intentional), there are no grammatical mistakes in this work. However, I do think that you should either add the commas or drop the periods for consistency.

I really like how you've incorporated modern history by mentioning that Mississippi is technically "flagless" at the present time. It really adds to your understanding of the South.

When you mentioned the magnolia tree, I thought of the movie Steel Magnolias and how the main character, M'Lynne, feels alone after her daughter's passing and overburdened by all the problems in her life. This memory really connected to your magnolia tree, and how it, the mockingbird, and the field all likely feel overwhelmed by the issues regarding racism.

All-in-all, this was an excellent poem! Have a nice #RevMo , and have a nice [*insert time of day here*]!!!

RavenLord says...

Thank you so much for the review, Vilnius! I'm glad you liked the poem and I hope it was worth all those points!

Vil says...

It was! Unless I've overlooked something, I think I can call myself Knight Vilnius now! Thank you so, so, so much for your help!

RavenLord says...

Congratulations on your knighthood! I've been considering becoming a knight, but with college right around the corner I'm not sure I can make that commitment. You're gonna be great!

Vil says...

Oof, good luck with college! I'm still a junior in HS, so I don't have to worry about that yet XD

Thank you!

RavenLord says...

I'm a senior but I'm taking college classes right now, and I'm already registered for college.

The ink in which our lives are inscribed is indelible.
— Helena 'HG' Wells, Warehouse 13