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a sailor's goodbye; a quilt to hold

by lliyah

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373 Reviews

Points: 15860
Reviews: 373

Tue Nov 15, 2022 3:29 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...

Hi there alliyah! Lim here with a review for your piece :D

First Impressions

The 5th stanza particularly stood out to me. I like the idea that “no one teaches” these feelings. Where they come into the poem, it seems to me this phrase implies that being “homesick for someone else” and the other things mentioned are known instinctively, rather than being learned. My favourite phrases were “the pilgrimage of war-making” and “like sea-glass”. I like how the first one emphasises the ‘strangeness’ being conveyed in that stanza, because war and ‘pilgrimage’ come from two fields one does not typically combine together, and also that pilgrimage (as opposed to, say, ‘crusade’) is a word with usually peaceful connotations.


Something I like about this poem is the continuity of ideas. I like that there appear to be two speakers both in the poem and in the poem’s title. On multiple readings, I’m beginning to read it as the speakers being divided based on which side of the page they’re aligned with, though at first I definitely attributed one or the other stanza to a different speaker than I think was intended. For instance, I thought stanza 3 had switched back to the first speaker but then later realised it said “return”. They kind of blend in together, which I think could be a good thing, as it contributes to the unity of the piece as a whole.

The repeated phrases like “return to me” and “i will wait/ i am waiting” also help connect the ending to the beginning. The repetition made the final stanza come across more strongly and resonate more in my opinion.


I thought the enjambments in some parts were better than in others. I liked the first one in:

. . . how to live
when you’ve tied your heart

I felt like it made sense to emphasise “live” there by putting it at the end of the line break. I wasn’t so sure how to read other ones like “a child balanced / on my hip” or “pull against / fate” because it didn’t feel right to stress the last word before the break? If that makes sense?


Some of the imagery that stood out to me was in the 2nd stanza. “battle sea-sirens” was an unexpected one, and “carry hurricanes” as well. Both of those feel intense and hyperbolic, like dramatisations of the subject matter (war?). It lends a forcefulness to the second speaker. I also got this forceful tone in lines like “return even / if your lungs become water-logged”.

I also thought the variety of images in the second speaker’s stanzas was greater than the first. The first speaker doesn’t use as much sensory imagery and also focuses on literal language (or at least language that could be taken as literal, like the “anchor” and “compass” for someone going out to sea). Meanwhile, the second speaker uses oceanic imagery as a whole, but also images of the land and of birds. It kind of gives me the feeling that most of the ‘action’ happens in the response rather than the call. I think this is good because it prevents there being too much going on in the poem at once and helps contrast the speakers.


This was an interesting piece with more depth to it than I initially realised! I like that it tells a story but also has lyrical qualities to it, with the imagery. The voice of each speaker is distinct enough that I can tell them apart, but also similar enough that they fit together as being one poem.

Hope some of this helps, and feel free to ask for more feedback!

lliyah says...

This was very helpful, thank you Lim! I find it interesting the continuity made the voices almost blend together there for you. I think I wanted the "home-staying" voice to sound more active here as stereotypically people don't think about the people left behind as having such an "active" role in war, and then tried to make the left-hand voice maybe more fearful/sentimental- again just trying to mix things up a bit from expectations.

Good notes on rhythm too - I actually re-wrote this poem a third time into a song, and noticed some wordiness issues too that needed to be cleaned up but the repetition lends itself nicely to music. Glad you enjoyed the read! And thank you for sharing your thoughts! <3

Liminality says...

I think I wanted the "home-staying" voice to sound more active here as stereotypically people don't think about the people left behind as having such an "active" role in war, and then tried to make the left-hand voice maybe more fearful/sentimental- again just trying to mix things up a bit from expectations.

Oh, now that you've described that intent I can see the differences in the voices more easily! That's a cool idea, I like it when poetry subverts the conventional way of writing things.

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1138 Reviews

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Sat Nov 05, 2022 4:21 am
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lliyah says...

Here's a second version I'm just posting as a comment because it's kind of burdensomely long; but I think does have some improved continuity. Also have written a song version of this will maybe post later ~ !

a sailor's goodbye | version two

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Fri Nov 04, 2022 11:03 pm
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E11ie wrote a review...

This is beautiful! I absolutely love the imagery you have created; It has this way about it that seems to wash in and out, almost like the tide itself.

My favorite lines:

"If you feel you've outgrown the world we know/ I will tie a quilt wide enough to hold the infinities/ you've carried and bind us together again."

This is a heart-wrenchingly sweet picture of change and the isolating trauma of war. The all encompassing love of the speaker seems to wrap the reader in a quilt of their own, tying them to this young family as they promise to hold, promise to try to understand, the ugliness our veterans bring home with them. I think you hit on something wonderfully honest with this.

"No one teaches you how to be homesick/ for someone else, how to find your home/ when he has left, how to live/ when you've tied your heart/ to sails charting unknown waters"

This was a fascinating idea. No one teaches you how to be homesick for someone else. It had never occurred to me that to miss someone is second nature to us. That it is something we simply know, that we can love someone so completely that we make them our home almost without realizing it. There is something raw and yet simultaneously polished about these lines. They are lovely.

Your repetition of your last paragraph was a phenomenal choice. It really drew everything to together and hammered home the emotional impact of the entire piece. I think this was a perfect topic for you and I loved the way you switched perspectives throughout. To sum everything up, I almost cried reading this. You did a wonderful job, I truly enjoyed getting to wander around in your head for awhile and experience a brand new and utterly gorgeous poem. Thank you.

P.s. Poetry is not my genre of expertise, so hopefully this is helpful!

lliyah says...

Thanks so much for the kind review and encouragement! I appreciated you sharing your thoughts. :)

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1138 Reviews

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Sat Oct 15, 2022 10:36 pm
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lliyah says...

Author's Note:

One of my great-grandfathers served in the Navy in WWII - after four generations of his family living in a very small, remote section of land, he was sent away from everything he knew to distant countries and islands and I wonder what sort of shock that was for him. To go from never having seen a lake, or leaving his state, to sailing the ocean. His wife was only 23 and had a baby at home when he first left. I can only imagine how challenging it was for those young people fighting in the war and how that affected the rest of their life. The poem is told from the imagined perspective of the person leaving for war (aligned left) and the person staying behind (aligned right). My own immediate family has many people who've served in the military, and I have so much respect to anyone who has experienced this sort of family separation due to war or deployment first-hand.

Thanks for reading!

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