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for lack of water

by alliyah


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.


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Thu Oct 04, 2018 12:20 pm
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Clarity wrote a review...



Hey there alli, Clary here to finally review this for you!

I have to start by saying that I really admire your work, and if I was to see this piece in an anthology then I would most definitely be drawn in to read it. I love unconventional poetry structure, and abstract poetry is just wonderful. In fact, you’ve motivated me to have a crack at it myself.

I think it’s quite clear that you’re talking about dehydration, but that this is a metaphor for some form of loss – likely love? I’m picking this up from some of the parts you use the scratchy font for – “shriveled heart”, “you can’t hold onto me”, and “I didn’t need you anyways”.

I really like the disorganisation you can sense from the narrators perspective through this. You start the poem with the fact of what dehydration is, but then to the right we’ve got this little part all on its own – “the body /is just skin /and bone /and mind /and soul /and pieces /of shriveled heart” – it’s like the narrator has gone on a tangent in their own mind. It moves with the thoughts of dehydration making people delirious and I like how it’s offset to the rest. I can imagine this sounding amazing as spoken word poetry?

I’m sorry but you’re going to have to listen to a lot of praise before I get to the parts I think you can improve on

So this line – “becomes little more than ashes” is wonderful because you have another one of these bits where the author is going on a little tangent with “becomes little more than ashes / to ashes, dust to dust” but then you have some wonderful imagery with “becomes little more than ashes / when you don’t attend to the flame” – that truly has to be one of the best lines I’ve ever read. I love it.

I do really like how you’re integrating the two columns of this at seemingly random intervals. It could come across as messy, but with the ongoing theme for dehydration I think it works really well. Like in the middle – “dehydration is easier when you’re in denial / or at least that’s what I hope / or hoped; it’s hard to think in past-tense now”. But that last part about past-tense also flows with “but why did I ever think you loved me? / it’s hard to think in past-tense now” so again, this is clever and I am impressed.
I like the connotation between “the roots / you can’t hold onto me” – especially with the desert theme.

So I’ve rambled enough about the things I really liked, there is more but I’d probably just end up quoting 90% of the poem if I went through each and every one… so let’s move on to the few things I think you could improve on a little!

“and pain is a cocktail mixed with love, regret, regret,” I think if you’re going to use “cocktail” you do not need to use “mixed” as well. Maybe “and pain is a cocktail of love, regret…” I also don’t think the second “regret” adds much here, maybe use another word? I like the sound of “remorse”…

“I didn’t need you anyways” is kind of an abrupt ending and seems almost too simple a way to end the poem from everything else you’ve said. It isn’t bad, but I do think you could replace it with something better and more punching.

So, overall thoughts? I think you’re an amazing poet and I really enjoyed reading this. I can find very few faults and I wouldn’t change much about it at all. Maybe two more drafts and I wouldn’t be surprised if I actually did come across this one in an anthology one day.

Happy YWSing,
Clary :)




alliyah says...


Thank you so much Clarity! For both the praise & critiques! :) I appreciate your insights.



Clarity says...


No problem :D



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Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:43 am
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Mea wrote a review...



Hey alliyah! I'm here for that Duels of the Reviewers review :D Please excuse my poor poetry review skills.

So man, what to say about this? I suppose I'll just talk about my thoughts and interpretations.

I read it pretty straightforwardly left column first, then right column, when I first read this, and the second column definitely felt more disjointed than the first column, which makes sense given what you said about them being footnotes to the first column. I did have a hard time figuring out exactly where each line from the second column began a new "footnote" from the first column. At first, I was looking for similar words, so jumping from "the body" to "the body" and then "ashes" to "to ashes," but that stopped working after the one about pain, and matching up the words in the special font on each side didn't really feel cohesive either. I don't mind exploring a poem a little to find a reading order I really like, but I couldn't settle on one for the bottom half of this poem.

What I interpreted from your choice of the handwriting font - the way it built to an interpretation in my brain - was that the words written in that font are lines are where the narrator almost breaks, or where the pieces spoken of in those words are closest to falling apart or separating, shattering. It's when the feeling of loss is most raw for the narrator. It was actually a really cool effect and I really liked it.

On the central metaphor of loss = dehydration - it worked. I think my favorite part was how you transitioned back and forth from desert and location-based metaphors to the drinking metaphors and imagery more closely associated with loss. It wove together a really compelling picture.

I was disappointed when I read the last line as "I didn't need you anyways", I will say. It feels like a stereotypical line that I've seen a lot in poetry, where the narrator is saying it almost more out of bitterness than anything, and because of that previous baggage it contradicted the unique atmosphere of "because I'm alright." That line left me with more of a resolution, a sense of peace - I didn't read it as sarcastic, even though I realize you could and probably should. I'm biased and I tend to like my poems to have a sort of peaceful resolution to them by the end, so that's sort of the ending I favored and maybe that's why I read it that way.

Either way, with the rest of the poem being really unique and inventive, that line just felt odd to me. I'm also not sure it works with the central metaphor - you're always going to need water, you can't just decide to stop being dehydrated. So it feels like a big break from the rest of the poem.

I've rambled on for a while, and I'm not sure what else to give you, so I might leave it there! Oh, first some of my favorite lines:

and this vestigial heart becomes little more than ashes / when you don't attend to the flame

gorgeous imagery

and I won't stop searching sand for wells

It just has this beautiful mixture of dry hopelessness but still the distant, almost impossible possibility of cool, refreshing water.

And I won't type out the whole quote, but the line about "excessive drinking affects / the body's ability to absorb water" just clicks so well, I'd say it's the line that brings the whole poem together.

Let me know if you want me to talk about any of this more. Much love. <3




alliyah says...


Thanks for the review Mea! <3 You bring up some really good points, and I also liked hearing your process for reading it. I kind of like the disorienting effect - but it's hard to balance that with it being nonsensical. Which is a problem for a lot of abstract poetry, is it ends up not making sense or not being very tangible. I tried several different format options for this, so I might play with it again in the future.

For that last line - I think I was trying to sort of go with a stubborn tone. Like obviously a person needs water (and metaphorically, needs love/human connection) in order to survive, so for them to say they don't need water/ or the other person is just being in denial. And the second last line "I didn't need you anyways" - is still in denial, but also a glimmer of hope, because there are other people out there/maybe other wells to find; they just didn't need the "you". Along with clinging to draining memories, the poem's also about trying to find personal fulfillment within the self - (the body metaphors about squeezing sustenance from their own blood) - so I was also trying to pull that in with the last line. Though I can see how it might come off as a bit whiny or too bitter, which isn't quite the tone I wanted, so I'll have to think on that a bit too. I think the the extended tears & veins lines might not be helping with that - so I might check out how I can revise those.

Thanks for your encouragement - you gave me a lot to consider! :)



Mea says...


Oh good! I'm really glad I at least gave you something to think about. I like your explanation of the last line - I so often think of that line as spoken in bitterness, but stubbornness fits a lot better with the tone of the rest of the poem. I'm not really sure exactly how you'd revise it to better convey stubbornness, but I think the basic idea fits. :)



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Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:06 pm
xJoeyx wrote a review...



Woah, woah, w o a h ! !

Hi there fellow poet, I'm Jade and I am gonna review your poem. The formatting is gorgeous and at first I was a little confused because it looked scrambled, but as I kept looking at it I realized it wasn't. Anyways, I don't understand this? It seems as if you have two different perspectives?

Maybe try to create a better, for lack of better words, flow so people like me (Cannot simply be a normal person) can have a better understanding of the two sides. The left side is really good without the other side to be honest and if you could maybe comment and explain.

I would also really like to know how you got your inspiration for this piece!!




alliyah says...


Hey thanks! It was supposed to look a bit scrambled or dizzy to go with the dehydration theme.

The inspiration was a line a wrote from another poem that was just "I squeeze lemonade from limes and desert rain" - and I thought that was pretty, so I went with it. And ended up making it sort of about dehydration being a metaphor for losing someone close to the speaker. I also have always wanted to write a columned poem that could be read in multiple directions - and have seen a few other really good poets on YWS try them out - like @fortis' excellent poem here: the moon is no replacement for a brother

You asked about how a person ought to read it, and I guess I'd think of the right column as footnotes for the left column - with the references being indicated by the curly text. For the most part you can read this top to bottom in columns or left to right - besides the line "and I know excessive drinking" which doesn't quite work with it's right counter-part - but everything else should fit.

Thanks again for your feedback! Maybe I'll post a version of the poem with just a condensed left version, but I kind of like the craziness for now.



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Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:09 am
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hermione2001 says...



I really loved this! It was interesting to me how at first it sounds as if you are describing what if feels like to be dehydrated but in just a couple lines turns into something deeper and more meaningful. It gives a different view of everyday things/events and their meanings. Can't wait to see more from you!




alliyah says...


Thanks! I'm curious what you thought of the formatting? Whether it hindered or helped the message?




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