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What do we tell the children?

by alliyah

When disaster strikes
And everything seems lost
And brisk and meaningless,
Folks have a tendency
To latch-on to organization.
The routine becomes work -
Work is always normalizing
Rest means that something
Is terribly wrong.

When disaster strikes,
You busy yourself -
No time for resolution
Only run towards revolution.
When it looks as if
Democracy has died,
People rush off pretending
Or believing they’re soldiers
Called to war.

When everything is wrong,
We act the most like it’s alright.
Put on a strong face,
Get out the clipboard,
Scrutinize the opaque opposition,
And laugh with sloppy tears like its fine.
Some questions get easy answers
Weather, drama, yesterday, today?
“We’ll see, we’ll survive.”

But some questions unnerve:
“What do we tell
the children?”’
A cold breath of reality
And horror hits your lungs,
As you realize
You don’t have an adequate
Fairy tale or lullaby or short reply
That belongs in this moment.

When everything is wrong,
The children are the first to know.
Before their parents can articulate
Why hate exists or why people
Just never seem to get along,
They raise their hands;
In rage, in question, in urgency.
But for these questions
There is no easy answer.

In these troubled times,
It’s not business as usual.
Because it’s wrong.
But we’ll carry the flags
And march along -
A school of fish,
Turned by an ocean’s tide.
Renewing that strong face.

In these troubled times,
We’re not alright.
But we’ll cover our tears
With war paint and
Pull our aching bodies
Into tight embraces.
Because we hope something
And someone, is worth
Finding the answers.

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75 Reviews

Points: 2162
Reviews: 75

Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:53 am
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SilverBerry wrote a review...

Hi! Love the poem, love the realism in it and the meaning behind the wonderful descriptions and metaphors.

"Rest means that something
Is terribly wrong"
-I love this sentence because the way you structured it with the terribly wrong on the end which gives it so much more emphasis and sets the tone for the rest of the poem.

"We act the most like it's alright."
I don't love this line because "the most" seems to break the flow of the reading and sounds a little awkward, especially since it's not necessarily needed in the sentence. I understand why you would write it in though but perhaps change the word order a little bit to make it more smooth.

"You don't have an adequate
Fairy tale or lullaby or short reply."
-I like what you were saying in this sentence a lot, but I think you should change "short reply" because reply and lullaby almost rhyme and since they are in their own sentence and the rest of the poem doesn't have a rhyme scheme it doesn't end the line very well.

"What do we tel
The children"
I love this line too pretty much for the same reason as the first one I said. EMPHASIS. It makes the children, which are a big subject of your poem, stand out. Very well done.

"A school of fish,
Turned by an ocean's tide.
Renewing that string face."
I love the tone you ended this stanza on for it sounds bitter and the pause after it leaves that feeling of betterness, if that makes sense.

This is small but there probably shouldn't be a period after embraces because you're starting your next sentence with because which sounds a little awkward in this case.

Okay! I hope this helped. I love your word choice and the mood this poem created and your metaphors and just the whole concept of the poem was wonderful. Good job and keep writing!

alliyah says...

Thanks for the helpful suggestions - I will keep all of your comments in mind when I go to edit. Have a wonderful day. :)

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480 Reviews

Points: 4282
Reviews: 480

Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:25 pm
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Holysocks wrote a review...

Hey Alliyah! I don't review poetry much, but your title really pulled me in and I'm hiding from prose right now! XP

So I really like the concept behind this. It's certainly something I think many people can relate to- at least the feeling of frustration and just the general fear that something bad is just around the corner from this whole thing. And another thing I liked and found interesting is it was kind of sullen at the beginning of the poem, but by the end, even though the people in the poem were described as really not holding up very well, they rose to fight rather than do nothing about their situation. I like that bit as a more abstract message; I don't think it would do anything good to physically fight, but I do think their is something to be said about just going about combating things like the violence, or anything just by standing up for one another and so forth. I'm having trouble saying what I want to say here, sorry about that.

This poem might benefit from a little less words. I don't mean it's too long - it's a beautiful length - I mean I noticed there were some words in it that it might not necessarily need.

When disaster strikes
And everything seems lost
And brisk and meaningless,
Folks have a tendency
To latch-on to organization.
The routine becomes work -
Work is always normalizing <<(I'm not sure what this line meant, actually. I almost feel like it's kind of repeating the line before it in a sense)
Rest means that something
Is terribly wrong.

If you take out the bolded words, it doesn't change the meaning of the poem, but with the bolded words it just kinda dampens your meaning- it's not as crisp as out-right saying it. For instance, saying something like: "Jane did you know that I really like you?" vs "Jane, you know I like you, right?" And the thing I love about poetry is you can get away with using more slang-like language, or not using completely proper English.

Something else I just noticed about this poem is it almost has a "presidential speech" feel about it. So maybe that's why you were using a bit stiffer language? If that's the case, it's pretty ingenious because that's just so interesting to me.

I also felt like this poem kind of meandered a tad- that could be just me though, and it also could be because of the slight wordiness that I talked about. But by the third stanza the poem is still talking about "when bad things happen" and I feel like by then we should almost have more meat to work with? That could be just me though.

Anyway, good job! I quite enjoyed this poem and thinking about this poem and what it might mean. Keep it up and see you around! c:


alliyah says...

Thanks for the review, Socks! :) I definitely agree with you on the part about violence - I meant to point out more of a non-physical resistance (which I wouldn't necessarily advocate for in every instance, just am pointing to it in the poem) I'm sort of working with the idea that these people want to do something but don't seem to be able to do anything that fixes the problems they see in the world - or get real answers for the child's questions. Great point about the wordiness of some of the stanzas - I will take another look at that when I get around to editing again. I also agree that it's a bit disjointed (I wrote half of it on a different day) so am going to work at getting this less-disjointed hopefully. Thanks again for the helpful review! :)

Holysocks says...

Anytime! C: Glad you found it somewhat helpful! :D

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Points: 51
Reviews: 1

Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:24 pm
Naenaerom246 wrote a review...

I really liked the concept of the poem. i love how it seems based on the modern world.
and how do you the the children though? with war, troubled times, and horror of children seeking answers on things they won't understand. we cover our pain and continue in order to make the illusion that everything is 'fine/okay'.

alliyah says...

Thanks for the comments, glad you enjoyed.

Random avatar

Points: 319
Reviews: 40

Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:59 pm
MeAndMyThoughts wrote a review...

Hello. Trying to give a fair review.

I really liked the concept of the poem. Although at first it looked to be not on the topic, it came to point in between, and so the title fits the poem. I also liked the simplicity and the Truth which this poem showed. And what else to say, you know more than me. Hope it helped.

alliyah says...

Thanks for your input.

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Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
— Mark Twain