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The Cave

by RavenLord


Note: This is part of a series of poems I'm writing based on the works of Craig Paulenich. The Old Woman and the girl are recurring characters in the series. I'll likely post some more from the series once I work out some of the larger issues with the other poems. In the meantime, I'm looking for a bit of nitpicking!

The Old Woman's eye swallows her

Before she even steps inside.

Tugging on her little sleigh,

The girl wobbles into the den

Of Polyphemus and Grendel,

Though the teeth scrape her and the breath

Deep in the throat of the eye

Is hot as a threat

And stinks of loathing.

It eats her alive

And the tears slipping from the ceiling

And onto her cheek make her feel dirty,

But the threats bring feeling

To her stubby fingers

And ease the blood from her nose

Back to her cheeks.

So she stays

And sits beside the hulking brown beast

Who lies so still at the back of the throat

She thinks it might be dead.


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Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:25 am
IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hey Raven,

Happy RevMo! In honour of the occasion I'm going to have a go at poetry reviewing! I have read some of Craig Paulenich and I think you've done a really good job of inserting the style of his writing into this poem.

The imagery here is very well done too - it certainly sticks very well to your theme. It reminds me somewhat of a couple of his Goat Man poems (I may be misremembering the name as it's been a while since I've read them).

My main nitpick is here

Deep in the throat of the eye

Is hot as a threat


It only really becomes a problem when reading aloud, but throat and threat are very similar and thus makes it into a bit of a tongue twister. If this was what you were going for, then great ;) but as someone who likes to read my poetry aloud to really experience the pace and flow and imagery this kind of broke it up for me and made it less enjoyable.

Overall though, a great poem and a nice read!


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RavenLord says...


This is an excellent point! Thank you :) And I'm so glad to find another Paulenich fan! What's your favorite poem of his?



IcyFlame says...


I enjoyed Working the Long Shift! Though I must admit I haven't read a huge amount of his work. But I really liked the single stanza and the dark imagery that starts to weave its way through without me even noticing at first!



RavenLord says...


I've always been a huge fan of How to Bring Rain. It's so packed with imagery that I never would have considered sticking in a poem. Any of his Goat Man poems are amazing, honestly. Working the Long Shift is especially great, definitely.



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Wed Sep 02, 2020 12:35 pm
Magebird wrote a review...



Hey there, RavenLord!

Like @silverquill12, I've never read the works of Craig Paulenich. But poems that tell stories are secretly my favorite kind of poetry, so I just had to check out your newest work.

I love how grounded this poem is in similar kinds of poetry. The references to Beowulf and the Odyssey made me grin, while also provided building blocks for the overall tone of the poem. Even though I didn't know anything about the old woman and the girl at the start of the poem, the references to two fictional monsters gave me the insight I needed to understand the poem's mood.

Since you wanted nitpicks, here's some of mine! Let me know if you have any questions about anything I'm about to say. :)

I think it might partially be the way that my brain processes poetry, but the biggest critique I have for your poem is the formatting. Long poems without any breaks between lines/ideas take a little extra time to digest. It's definitely okay to do that if it's the style of poetry you're most comfortable with, but it might turn off a few readers who don't want to reread the poem.

For example, here's a way you can reformat the first few lines of the poem:

The Old Woman's eye swallows her
Before she even steps inside.

Tugging on her little sleigh,
The girl wobbles into the den
Of Polyphemus and Grendel,


By grouping together the line and breaking apart the larger poem into stanzas, you can provide the reader with little scenes that are easier to digest.

Speaking of the Grendel and Polyphemus line, I think you accidentally included a run-on sentence there.

Tugging on her little sleigh,

The girl wobbles into the den

Of Polyphemus and Grendel,

Though the teeth scrape her and the breath

Deep in the throat of the eye

Is hot as a threat

And stinks of loathing.


You might want to switch out the comma after Grendel with a period instead to avoid the run-on. You can also try playing around with the punctuation/format of the line so it works a little better, but the switch is probably the easiest way to take care of the run-on.

There's another run-on after it as well. You don't have to use punctuation if you don't want to in a poem, but it's a good idea to stay consistent with it. If you use periods in one place, use them throughout. If you don't use periods in one section, don't use them for the rest of poem.

(Unless you want a really dramatic line somewhere in it - like putting a period at the end of the last line.)

This isn't really a nitpick, but I thought it was the perfect place to end this review! I really love the last three lines of the poem. I have no idea who/what the hulking brown beast is, but I'm fascinated by both its purpose in the story and why it's so still. I definitely want to read future poems you write as part of this series! :)

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RavenLord says...


Thank you so much for the review!



Magebird says...


You're welcome! I hope it was helpful. :)



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Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:43 pm
Plume wrote a review...



Hey! Silverquill here, with a review!

I've never read anything by Craig Paulenich, so I come to this with little background, but I really enjoyed this poem regardless. It was full of very interesting and slightly macabre imagery. It was so surreal, that just picturing it reminded me almost of a Salvador Dali painting. The strange imagery was incredibly off-putting, what with "the throat of the eye" and having the eye swallow a girl. I assume that was your goal.

I think you do a lovely job at setting the tone of your poem. It's meant to be icky and disgusting and slightly frightening, and you do a good job of sticking to that. Each one of your words sounds carefully chosen to build this sort of vibe, and all seamlessly slide in with the message you have. Nearly all the words you use have a negative or neutral connotation, so I applaud you on that.

Another thing I really liked about this poem was the final line. It was incredibly striking. However, I'd recommend ending the line before it with a period, to further increase its hard-hitting capabilities.

You said you wanted nitpicks, so here goes!

In the first line, you say "The Old Woman's eye swallows her." When I read this, I thought that the "her" you mentioned was the Old Woman, and was confused. You don't make it clear that the "her" is the girl until the fourth line.

Lines six and seven seem (at least to me) awkward where they're divided. It doesn't feel natural to stop after breath. To me, it disrupts the flow of the poem.

I would omit the "and" at the beginning of "And onto her cheek make her feel dirty." The line before that starts with "and," and it's not strictly needed. It just clogs up your work.

Overall, I liked this poem a lot! I'm eager to see more. (You mentioned it was part of a series, so I can't wait to read them if you ever decide to post those.)




RavenLord says...


Thank you for this lovely review! You make excellent points in the critiques. I'll brush the clunky bits up.
Craig Paulenich is an excellent poet, though not very well known. I based this series very heavily on his style of writing (I suppose I should have been a little bit clearer on that point). If you liked this poem, chances are you'd enjoy his Goat Man poems as well.
Thank you again for the review!




Stupid risks make life worth living.
— Homer Simpson