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16+ Violence Mature Content

perhaps we might meet the other half of the universe

by alliyah

Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence and mature content.

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Stickied -- Sun Dec 04, 2022 4:34 am
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alliyah says...

Author's Note:

I wrote this originally in the "Poem-Spot [-on the spot thread]" and really liked how it turned out ... have been thinking on it. The formatting and little feather / earth doodle at the bottom are all by me and it was inspired a little bit by a post @Mageheart put on their wall here. This poem I think is also a natural sibling to this poem that I wrote for NaPo this year.

There are some theological and philosophical inspos for this including Plato's account of Greek Mythology's myth regarding soul-mates. But I think there are many different valid ways to interpret the "meaning" of this piece without familiarity of that - I'd be very curious to hear what you would come up with for the "meaning".

I'm also super indecisive on a good title for this - so if you have interesting suggestions, let me know! :)

Here's the transcript if you can't view the image:

if you cut the earth in half;
you will find at its core
a bird severed in two
flying, each half, by one wing
and trying to find its halved-match

this is a mirror of the soul i suppose
broken down the middle
and always searching
and despite being hopelessly flightless
somehow, against the laws of gravity
she soars straight into the sky
and lives.

if you watch and wait
eventually she'll rest
and you'll wonder
if it has all been a trick of the light,
if everything has been whole
all along
but sure enough one wing
will stir, and the careening flight-dance
will begin again
and you won't be able
to look away.

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Sun Jan 08, 2023 3:58 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...

Heya alliyah! Lim here with a review.

General Impressions

The first stanza reminds me a bit of Greek philosophy, maybe whoever it was that wrote about humans originally having four of each limb and then being taken apart, so that they spend their lives searching for their other half. I might be misremembering, but that was the gist of it, I think. And I kind of see that idea reflected in this poem as a whole, too. The repeated lines in handwriting kind of reflect how the figure in the poem does things repeatedly, repeatedly searching. I like the cut-up format of the second stanza, because it contrasts how the first stanza is formatted and helps mark a ‘turn’. Another part that stood out to me was the forcefulness of the final lines.

I think like a good number of your poems this one is open to many interpretations. The core theme I think would be ‘seeking’ or ‘searching’, and maybe completeness as well. The poem itself casts the other half of the bird as the target, but the title refers to it as “the other half of the universe”, which makes me think it was almost made to be generalised. Given the genre – I’m guessing one of the intended meanings could be to portray a defiance of the laws set out in science, via spirituality, since to do this the half-bird has to defy gravity, amongst other things.

Glows – What I liked

I like how you’ve made the form match the content at basically every instance. The way the white papers are arranged for “broken down” conveys the idea of something that is cracked, like a mirror. The use of the same font for all of the “and”s also does not go unnoticed. I think it creates this repeating pattern that carries the reader’s eyes down across the page. The bolded words also sound more stressed inside my head when I read them, which contributes to creating a tone for the speaker. I read the stress in “hopelessly” and “somehow” as suggesting the speaker’s pathos for the bird, whereas “sky” and “lives” finalise it as amazement and admiration.

The use of “you” in the first and last stanzas but not the middle one is also quite clever, because it takes the reader into the poem via illusion of direct address and then returns the reader ‘outside’ to observe the bird, having understood her struggle from a more immediate perspective.

Grows – Ideas to consider

I wonder what would happen if you developed this “mirror of the soul” idea a little more? As it is right now I found it a bit jarring of a switch from the first stanza (though certainly an attention-grabbing one) and I understand the idea of it to frame the bird as a representation of a person. I wonder if there could have been an echo of that in the final stanza? Alongside the drawing of the mirror being presented there?

The positioning of the “and” that’s on the mirror is between the lines “if everything as been whole” and “sure enough one wing will stir” so at first glance it was a bit hard for me to tell which it belonged to.

Something else that might be interesting to try would be to play a bit with diction. This suggestion comes from the interpretation that this is supposed to be some kind of narrative of spirituality defying science. I think usually poems with this aim have a need to evoke a strong passionate emotion, so I thought of some suggestions that might lend to that.
The use of the word “severed” feels a bit more clinical and dispassionate to me than say, a word like “ripped”, “torn” or even just saying “two halves of a bird”. That could be the intention, since it’s only the first stanza, but just thought I’d note it here. The two commas in the line after that I also interpreted as more methodical pauses, rather than an emotive crescendo. So as a whole the first stanza gave me the impression that the speaker is taking a meditative, rather objective tone. The word choices in the second stanza could be made more intense if you want for example by removing the function words and connectors (“despite”, “being”) and replacing them with pure imagery.

Some other interesting ideas to explore would be if the “laws of gravity” was given more description to place it in opposition to the bird. That could help create more of a consistent juxtaposition between the bird and her surroundings and emphasise her struggle, if that’s something you want to do.


Another interesting piece! I like the use of formatting techniques and combining visual art with textual art to make a new contribution to an old duality. And even without that particular narrative, I especially like the idea of a poem about the beauty of seeking something out throughout one’s life.

Hope this helps – let me know if you’d like more feedback on something specific!

alliyah says...

Thank you very much for the thoughtful review Lim and for saving this from the Green Room! You're exactly right about the inspo from Greek Mythology about the soulmates being cut in two and then life being a search for the other half.

Plato wrote:According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.

I think I was trying to maybe replicate some of that formal philosophical / scientific language in the poem itself with the word "severed / laws of gravity" etc. but that might have also given it a bit of coldness / disconnect for the content. Also definitely agree the poem's 'mirror of the soul' aspect could be developed a lot more, and in general I'm not sure the poem makes enough "sense" outside of just making an interesting impression / image. Thanks for the compliments on the formatting aspects, that was definitely fun to play with and I'm really happy how it turned out as I was kind of searching for a poem to try out that technique with.

I like your interpretation of the poem being about the tension / brokenness between scientific laws vs spirituality and would say that's very valid! I had a lot of different ideas while writing it, so didn't have one-set meaning per-se but one is maybe that at the core of humans we are inherently broken, but that doesn't necessarily mean we are evil / dead / useless. In Christian theology there's a theory called "total depravity" that sin corrupts the entirety of human nature; and yet in apparent contradiction we are all made in the Image of God (imago Dei) having an inherent life / purpose / goodness -> that by grace cannot be undone. So as a severed bird that can still fly we are each irrevocably broken, and yet by grace miraculously are whole / given new life. That and I personally resonate with the idea of soulmates from that Greek myth, not in the romantic sense but more so in the searching around for "who am I" sense so I thought it'd be fun to make a poem inspired by all that. :]

Thanks for all the ides on directions to expand! I really appreciate all your comments!!

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Mon Dec 19, 2022 5:53 am
NothingMore905 wrote a review...

This is a very true poem, there is always that one half waiting to be found, but soon, its other half will find him and he will truly be whole again, if they separate he will once again feel the lonely emptiness of his other half missing, he never felt this way before but he continues waiting and searching for the other half of him, he has never felt he had another half but soon enough, she will find him and they will once again be a whole.

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Wed Dec 07, 2022 2:51 pm
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angxlari says...

this is very interesting!! its been a while since ive seen a poem formatted this way, so props to you for that. i am a bit intrigued as to why at the bottom, the words “and” & “but” are boxed that way. what was your reasoning for that? :0

alliyah says...

Thanks for the comments! the reason the "and" is in a box is because the middle stanza was supposed to look a little crafty / intentionally built together like the words were clipped from newspapers. The whole poem is about division and binding and to me the word "and" is the binding agent of poetry - it joins to halves of sentences so by putting that in the different format in the last stanza it made that stanza hopefully feel more divided just like the earth / bird / soul metaphor. Hope that makes sense!

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angxlari says...

so well thought out!! i love it. thank you for sharing

History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.
— Napoleon Bonaparte