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The Sea Inside a Conch Shell

by YellowSweater


Evergreen bodies smell like car freshener, like condominiums decorated with seashells and radio-pop. Death is flattened into linoleum flooring. Pacing over the fake wood, our sacred right to decomposition is vacuumed away.

On Sundays, after a breakfast of frozen waffles, the mega-churches are packed with ecstatic worshipers, praying for an afterlife full of golden syrup.

Can we capture life? Tame it with billboard advertisements proselytizing Triple-Cheese-Pizza and Vegan-Meats? Filter out the pain with syrupy promises. I dare you to find a empty parking lot and spray paint your desires on the cement. I dare you to grow your body until it no longer fits inside your well tended lot, until the traffic squeezes a desperate song from your lungs. 


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Mon Mar 29, 2021 12:07 am
Hijinks wrote a review...



Hi there YellowSweater! I saw this poem of yours hanging around the poetry tab and was intrigued, so here I am with a quick review for you ^^

I always get super excited when I see some prose-poetry hanging around on the site, and this is no exception! I think the formatting complements the contents of the poem really well in this case, since the poem is about breaking conventions/boundaries and that's exactly what prose poetry is. I also think you did a great job in finding the perfect balance between prose and poetry - it can be really hard not to end up with plain-old-prose or a poem that feels like it's just missing line breaks, but I think you didn't end up in either of those pitfalls.

You've got some very interesting and thought-provoking imagery going on here! My favourite part is in the final stanza/paragraph:

I dare you to find a empty parking lot and spray paint your desires on the cement. I dare you to grow your body until it no longer fits inside your well tended lot, until the traffic squeezes a desperate song from your lungs.
The imagery here is maybe a bit, simpler? than throughout the rest of the poem, but I personally find it to be the most impactful and effective. The idea of spray painting a parking lot with your desires is really specific and vivid, and it matches the sentiment of "growing out of your body" until the "traffic squeezes a song from your lungs" superbly. And here, the imagery, while very unique and unusual, is definitely something the vast majority of people can understand, picture in their head, and know what feelings the image is meant to evoke. All in all, those lines are *chef's kiss*

I do feel that in some other places, the imagery becomes a bit too abstract and complicated and actually loses that impact & effectiveness. This is especially the case, I find, in the first chunk of text:
Evergreen bodies smell like car freshener, like condominiums decorated with seashells and radio-pop. Death is flattened into linoleum flooring. Pacing over the fake wood, our sacred right to decomposition is vacuumed away.
The very opening phrase, "evergreen bodies", doesn't really mean much to me. Are we talking cut-down trees? Or humans who are being compared to evergreens? Or something else? I could very well just be missing something, but right now the opening line isn't really pulling me into the poem, because I don't really know what it's saying. I think introducing a simpler thought, and expanding into a more complex description once you've already captured the reader into the poem, might be more effective - especially in the opening.

I did enjoy how you managed to have such varied imagery but yet still string a train-of-imagery from one stanza to the next. In the starting stanza you have "sacred right to decomposition", which leads nicely into the idea of "mega-churches packed with ecstatic worshippers". In the second stanza you have "an afterlife full of golden syrup", which also transitions smoothly to "filter out the pain with syrupy promises".

(Re: "filter out the pain with syrupy promises" -> I'm a bit unsure why this is phrased as a command? If I'm interpreting the poem correctly, the narrator is urging the listener to live more freely, outside of boxes, and to embrace their own truth, not to sugar coat things. To me, telling them to filter out the pain with syrupy promises doesn't quite match those sentiments. I think it's meant to be stating what people are trying to do, rather than what they should be doing? Perhaps there could be a way to make that more clear in the poem? Like "We keep trying to filter out the pain..." or something)

A couple very small spelling things if you're looking to edit & polish (they're incredibly small though, and don't reflect the quality of the poem in the slightest, so I've just enspoilered them to get them out of the way!)
Spoiler! :
with ecstatic worshipers,
-> "worshippers"
to find a empty parking lot
-> "an empty"
your well tended lot
-> "well-tended"


Overall, this was a super interesting poem and I really enjoyed reading it! It's the type where you can read it over and over again and find a new detail each time, which I always adore <3 I agree with the previous reviewers that the title works really nicely; I like that the connection between the title and poem sinks in after reading it a few times and it's a nice little "ohhhhh!" moment :)

I hope this review is helpful, and if you have any questions about anything I brought up feel free to ask!

Keep writing! <3

whatcha




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Sun Mar 28, 2021 7:24 pm
pineapple321 wrote a review...



Hi, Pineapple here for a review.

Not what I was expecting from the title. The first line actually confused me but then I started to realize what you were trying to say. It wasn't about something sea-like it was more of an analogy.

I liked the last few lines. They reminded me of a "call to action". You were calling the reader to do things almost rebellious. I thought it was very interesting.

My favorite line was "Filter out the pain with syrupy promises." My first thought was, "wow that's so true".

We ignore all the negative and terrible stuff by listening to fake promises.

Overall, this was a beautiful poem and I hope you keep writing.

Signed,

Pineapple




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Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:59 pm
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dissonance wrote a review...



'Ello there!

First Impressions:

My first thought was something along the lines of "Ooh, I like poetry about the ocean / water-related things," but then I read the first line, and I was a bit confused because I missed the whole idea of it being more about life bustling like waves or people at a beach instead of the general water atmosphere.

Now that I recognize what I believe to be the general topic and setting, I like the way the title kind of masks the topic until you've read all of the poems, and you're left to connect the dots then. It works well in my opinion because I was positively nodding my head towards the end when I finally understood I was ridiculous haha.

I also enjoy your language choices, with "car freshener" being something I haven't seen in poetry before. There's also this nostalgic-like feeling of smelling the air when on vacation to the beach created by that line where you bring up seashells and fake wood.

Then onto the next bit, it takes a turn into a more self-depricating feeling overpowering that sentimentality. The narrator accepts that they're consuming frozen waffles, and they're most likely not very satisfied with that area of their life if they need to specify they're microwavable.

Lastly, we end at a situation where the narrator quits trying to convince themself their life is perfect. There are slight nods at society being overwhelming, too, with "well-tended lots" furthering my idea about that being the underlying point you're trying to execute.

These are all my opinions and judgment of your decisions here, so they might be quite inaccurate. These are just what I initially presumed when I first browsed through your writing. Please do explain more in-depth if I'm moderately mistaken, moderately accurate. I manage to babble on and on about meanings that might not be exact haha.

Digging Deeper:

There's this tone of religious institutes and organized religion as a whole being something corrupt. The narrator gathers that the people idolizing these figures are being scammed into thinking there is a place without the human struggles of the Earth after they depart.

They're too cemented in their own survival being not ideal to want to buy into something like that. To them, it's a misuse of their time. I believe that the feeling of challenging religious orthodoxy is represented in a tone where it feels authentic, and it feels like a solid topic choice.

Tame it with billboard advertisements proselytizing Triple-Cheese-Pizza and Vegan-Meats?


I think this line is tying back into what I considered with society. No one needs a triple cheese pizza until everyone is shown purchasing one. There's always this influence where if you observe many people doing something, you suddenly want to adjust your behavior.

The same could be indicated with the theological perspectives. You won't challenge a generously accepted belief system because you might possibly be frightened of the consequences you're conditioned to accept after a long-drawn time of observing others.

I dare you to find a empty parking lot and spray paint your desires on the cement.


Spray paint isn't easy to just erase when you're finished using it, and that could be a reference to not being capable of escaping whatever troubles you or what you want to modify. It could draw back to the narrator craving something distinct in their life, too.

The same could be said about the last line. Everything around you is the identical white-picket-fence lifestyle, which often progresses into a toxic surrounding as you grow up and perceive the world in a condition where you aren't childishly careless.

Also, "daring" is typically when something is so outrageous, and if you're accustomed to conceiving a more "individualistic" lifestyle as very immoral, the action choice genuinely applies really well there.

Nitpicks:

This is said to be under the satire genre, but I've found it to articulate about things actually influencing lives in a way where it makes sense. I don't see the humorous character shining through, so you've unquestionably done something right here (or wrong depending on what you originally wanted when writing.)

I also don't think the format selection helps your point. I believe that format improves what you can perceive from the poem, and the way this is formatted doesn't do much at all. It runs on a tad bit too much in my opinion, but that's simply what I think.

On Sundays, after a breakfast of frozen waffles, the mega-churches are packed with ecstatic worshipers, praying for an afterlife full of golden syrup.


I'm not sure what a "mega-church" is. I think it could be hinting at the earlier references to religious institutes, but that wasn't the only idea that came to my mind when digging deeper into that. I do like the whole idea of "golden syrup" though.

Conclusion:

This is one of my favorite poems I've read in a while, and I mean that. The language is astonishing, the underlying messages I've noticed are realistic, and the environment you've produced is antagonistic and tragic in a process that's well-written.

Forgive me if I overplayed diminutive features though because that's something I do way too frequently haha.

Good job ~

chi





You, who have all the passion for life that I have not? You, who can love and hate with a violence impossible to me? Why you are as elemental as fire and wind and wild things...
— Gone With the Wind