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i., ii., iii.

by whatchamacallit


i.

with sleep still carpeting my mind in
dew, I drop heavily upon the seat,
slippery grey material barely supporting my
tired frame. pulling the backpack
from my shoulders, I hug it against my chest.

a boulder - why am I clinging to it so tightly if
it will pull me down beneath the waves?

my friend across the aisle raises
an eyebrow. "hey, how's it going?"
if my response seems tired, blame it on
a lack of sleep.
"pretty good. how was stage
combo yesterday?"

just let me guide the conversation away,
like this, like a gravel path
slippery with morning mist and
ocean breeze. don't mind if it's muddy,
it leads to the beach.

where I can see the moon's reflection, a
malformed ghost again the broiling water.

I gaze ahead at the dirt-scuffed
chair back, footmarks of second graders
unable to reach the ground, so they slide
down the plastic seat, posture like a crescent moon,
trying to touch the hard, peeling floor.

maybe I'm more like them than I
think, trying to touch the full moon,
nothing short of perfection;
don't look closer, don't do it,
just admire the shining silhouette from
afar, don't reach for the telescope with
a dusty lens.

but am I stretching for the sky or are
the tips of my hair dipping down into the glassy
water? perhaps the silvery reflection is more
perfect than the moon itself.
     

     

ii.

with more thoughts in my head than
letters in a novel, I am
nestled on a faded yellow bean bag,
secluded in a corner of the library.
my body creates a crater in
the crunchy filling.

the paperbacks piled in front of
me fight for my attention with their
gravity. some are able
to capture my emotions, twirling them
into lopsided rings.

according to NASA, these are true
books - they can catch their reader in orbit.

but I'm a dwarf planet, constantly
revolving around the sun, too weak to clear
a path in all the cosmic dust.
I get lost in it, choking on the debris;
the particles scratch my eyes and
blind me.

and yet I am strong enough to collapse
inwards, all the light lost in murky black.

"how are you?" the librarian
asks, and she is a dwarf planet as well,
unable to bend my trajectory.
"alright." and holding up my book,
"do you have any others by
this author?"

I sprinkle questions like stars in the rough black,
knowing that there are two
vastly different constellations to see here.
only one is easy to find - don't try too hard to
connect the dots, draw crooked lines,
don't look for an eraser; it will only
smudge the ink.

if everyone drew in pencil then these
mistakes could be undone -
they might leave an indent in the wrinkled sky,
but pen makes permanent discolouration.

   

   

iii. 

it's lonely on this dishevelled bed, cover wrinkled
from my unmoving weight. I always
thought that loneliness was
a silent void. I never knew it is deafening -
like a tornado, twisting logic and memories,
shredding duvets and littering feathers in disarray.

in this storm of feathers, the distant silhouettes
of friends morph into people they aren't.

I gaze, starving, at the defective
representations of my friends, the poorly lit
faces on my screen; cheap webcams stain hues and
pixelate features. I try, but I can't
hold an image's hand - its flesh melts through
the desperate grip of my fingers.

"how're you doing?" someone asks me
at a lull in the talking. roaring wind
claws at my ears and I barely
comprehend: "I'm, I'm fine." I smile, but this is
a crescent moon, rocked by the gales, barely
clinging to the sky; imperfect.

one extra gust and it might be knocked to
the ground; don't tug, it will shatter.

"I don't believe you."
the storm dies suddenly, and I
feel dizzy in this frightening peace.
panic fills the silence. I fear
I could be trapped in the
eye of the tornado, never to escape.

but perhaps it doesn't matter if the world around
me is spinning in a blinding mess
of thunder and lightning - I fight my way out
of the feathers I'm buried beneath, holding tight
to the disbelief, extended like a hand to cling to;
maybe that was all I ever needed.

the fluffy down floats through the still air,
and I could imagine it to be a spiteful
snowstorm - but I'd rather believe they're stars, falling
from the sky, to grace me with their light. 

     

      

A/N: capitalization is stylistic, and I'm quite happy with how it's working in this poem, so I'd prefer you didn't comment on that - but I would like to know if you thought the disjointed line breaks/enjambment worked well or if it got too repetitive! 


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Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:04 am
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Tuckster wrote a review...



Hey there whatcha! Tuck here for a review tonight.

Overall, I really loved the way that you created gentle and then powerful climaxes throughout this poem. There was a strong character development in here -- a highlight for me is the way the MC gets "worn down" throughout the poem. It begins with an "I'm good!", moves to "I'm alright", and finally an "I'm fine." It was very subtle but a powerful way of showing the way the day was wearing on the reader. I also found all of these emotions very relatable -- the way there's this silent pressure on students, coupled with the crippling loneliness so many high schoolers experience. I want you to know you're not alone in these feelings, and if you ever want someone to talk to for any reason I'm around :)

Now, into some critique:

Your enjambment and italicized/differently styled stanzas worked well for the most part, but there was one area that I felt was a little problematic:

according to NASA, these are true
books - they can catch their reader in orbit.


This didn't have the same contrast as your other italicized sections, and it didn't have the same punch that it felt that you were going for. In fact, this section was one of the least emotional parts of the poem, and I think it could be tightened up a bit. You start with these really powerful images that give the idea of loneliness and disconnect from the world, the idea that you're not doing okay but you can't tell anyone because of the pressures piled on you, and then this section seems to be more of a transition to the final stanza than a section in and of itself. I didn't get a strong emotional feel from this section like I did from the rest of the poem. I don't have too many suggestions for how to improve this, but maybe some emphasis on your current orbit would help drive home the point about why it's so terrible to feel as if you're caught in the same orbit. The idea of "same-old-same-old" doesn't have a huge emotional impact if the reader isn't reminded of how much this orbit isn't where the MC wants to be.

Sorry I got a bit rambly there, but hopefully you're able to salvage something helpful from it!

My second point of critique is that I would have loved to see you do a little bit more with the water imagery. You bring it in once in a super powerful way ("but am I stretching for the sky or are
the tips of my hair dipping down into the glassy
water? perhaps the silvery reflection is more
perfect than the moon itself."), and yet there's a lot of potential here. There's an obvious contrast between water and the sky, so it could be cool for this to be extended throughout the piece as a continued contrast between the celestial -- which to me represents a vast universe full of potential and possibilities -- and this place that stifles possibilities and is yet still filled with wonder. Just some food for thought!

The development from the first stanza to the third stanza is truly enviable. There's this clear turning point -- a friend who is invested enough to push beyond the "I'm okay" answer, and yet it feels like a natural progression. I especially like the way you introduced some new imagery in every stanza while still playing with the same theme. This is a really, really powerful poem, and I'm sure it's going to stick with me for another while. Tightening up that middle section, adding a more punch-y italicized stanza in that same section, and perhaps extending the water motif throughout the poem instead of isolated in one spot would help strengthen this poem! If you have any questions about this review please feel free to ask! This was a pleasure to read and I hope to see more from you.

Best,
Tuck




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Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:02 pm
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Ahhh whatcha,

An excellent reviewer, and an excellent poet! You have SUCH a talent for capturing emotions in your writing and I am HERE for it. I honestly wasn't expecting to relate to this poem as much as I did, considering I got high-school-y? vibes from the first couple stanzas and I'm well past that point in my life xP But the loneliness you encapsulated in this poem is SO powerful, and the imagery was seriously on point.

Specific comments:

just let me guide the conversation away,
like this, like a gravel path
slippery with morning mist and
ocean breeze. don't mind if it's muddy,
it leads to the beach.


1) Overall, I REALLY liked this stanza. The slippery, muddy imagery really works here. Like, I do a lot of aquatic fieldwork, and this really struck me. As muddy and slippery and awful as it is sometimes, there's still a certain sense of freedom and beauty in entering a purely natural realm, and I like you adding concrete examples to make sense of the emotions.

2) I'm not sure that I love the second line of this stanza? It just... idk, it doesn't sit right with me. I guess I was kind of expecting the "like this" to lead into an example of HOW the narrator was guiding the conversation away, if that makes sense? Like, "like this -- a quick jab at how my friend's been wearing the same shirt for three days in a row now, and a joke about his messy hair, getting the attention away from me" -- obviously that's not poetic, but you see what I'm getting at? I was expecting it to start talking about HOW the narrator guided the conversation away, but instead, it switches into a simile. And I like that simile a lot, it works really really well, but I don't like the "like this" before it I guess is what I wrote all of this to say xD

but am I stretching for the sky or are
the tips of my hair dipping down into the glassy
water? perhaps the silvery reflection is more
perfect than the moon itself.


I REALLY like this stanza. I don't have the words or poetic expertise to express to you why I like it, but it hit exactly how it needed to, and made me have a feeling.

nestled on a faded yellow bean
bag, secluded in a corner of the library.


This is the one place where I don't think the line break worked well. In the poem as a whole, I think the disjointed lines was a really really nice stylistic choice. It added to the sense of angst and emotions and thoughts muddling together and I really like how it amplified the themes of your poem.

Here, however, it just got a bit confusing. I re-read that line several times. "Faded yellow bean... what's that imagery? Faded yellow bean... is that what the narrator is calling their school bus now? Hmm okay, I'll keep reading to see if it makes more sense -- bag... bean bag. Ohhhh they're on a yellow bean bag chair"

And that might just be my brain reading things weird, but it did kind of pull me out of the poem for a second trying to figure it out.

if everyone drew in pencil then these
mistakes could be undone -
they might leave an indent in the wrinkled sky,
but pen makes permanent discolouration.


o o o f

So, I don't have anything specific to comment on in part iii, but it was my favorite part of this poem, tbh. You did SUCH a good job in your pacing, building this up. First section setting up the loneliness, second section building on it, third section here we are reaching the pinnacle and finally our narrator is called out.

I think the way you used natural themes throughout this entire poem worked really well. Like the dew/water moving on to space themes and finally we get here with wind and tornado. It's almost like, something feels off, everything is nebulous, everything IS NOT OKAY -- and I really like how you made a point that the loneliness isn't a void so much as a chaotic, awful experience that feels dangerous sometimes.

I just really liked this poem overall!! Great work!!

Keep writing!

~Shady






Aaa this is such an awesome review, thank you so much!! When I was writing the bean bag part I wasn't sure if it would pull the reader out of the poem or draw them immediately into the next line, so that's very helpful to get your feedback! Thank you again, you're reviews are so encouraging & helpful <3



ShadowVyper says...


<33



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Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:47 pm
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starlitmind says...



Ahh, I absolutely love this poem <333 Especially all of the celestial imagery!! c:






Thanks Star! <3 I love sky and star imagery almost as much as I love water imagery :D




You cannot have an opponent if you keep saying yes.
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