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Before You Came Back (some have said to take out the "some other" lines but am curious)

Before You Came Back

I wish there were some way
some other way
some day
some other day
when the streaked lines of tears
blown like raindrops
slanting across yellow street lights
were acts of abandon
tumult of tumbleweeds
scattering of schools of multicolored fish
notes from a flute
chasing their tails
like kittens whose yellow eyes
closed with perfect contentment.

I wish there were some time
some other time
some place
some other place
where cross-hatched shadows
tallying absence
were ballads of battles
harvests of early spring
straw laid down as bedding
for weary travellers
laid end-to-end
filling time with sound
as a howling dog shares its song
before it circles and rests
at last asleep
no longer hounded

I wish there was some words
some other words
some kind
some other kind
of tears and absence
besides these soaked sheets
those empty bottles
this sculptured memory
idealized and immobile
besides endless measures of minor chord
this diminished self
drained and draining

but I will close my eyes
this way this day
this time this place
without kind words
wishes or desire
perhaps at last

(there is an audio version of this in my blog)
Sun, 28 Jul 2019 06:58 am
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Devon Brock

Adam, the "some other" lines establish the cadence, the sigh, the very real wish that adds the necessary pressure building in the poem, which leads to the resignation in the final stanza. Also, "without kind words" is a great surprise to the reader, who would expect "without harsh words". All in all, this is beautifully crafted with fantastic imagery and a taut, consistent rhythm. I would advise, for what it's worth, leaving the lines in - gives it breath.

As always,

Mon, 29 Jul 2019 10:45 pm
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Thanks Devon. I am so grateful for the eyes and ears on the work.
Tue, 30 Jul 2019 03:49 am
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Alan Pascoe


You obvious have skill, but the poem is too twee.
Tears, tumbleweeds,kittens, weary travellers...

The poem needs an edge. Eliot said... 'Language demands animosity' Where's the conflict?

As a writer, it's never really about oneself. If it is, then the emotion felt has to be universal.

When a line works it catches the earth turning. We turn with it.
The poem needs light and dark.

Have you read the literary essays of Joseph Brodsky?
'On Grief & Reason' or 'Less Than One.'

Even the poetic essays of Christopher Ricks. Or Eavan Boland's superb later poems in 'Outside History.'

Define a moment then make that moment eternal.

Find that real conflict between words. You already have the talent.

Tue, 30 Jul 2019 10:05 pm
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Devon Brock

Well thought out critique, Adam. But, I feel the poem contains what you say it lacks. Certainly, the poem is about a failed relationship and the desire for the "tears" to be tears of joy, for the relationship to have gone another way. There is universality in that. Poems such as these can easily be read as "twee". But, the conflict, both internal and external, the light and dark are there. In this poem is a lament for a lost love, but also an anger, summed up with "Without kind words, wishes or desires."

With all due respects,

Tue, 30 Jul 2019 11:00 pm
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Alan, have not read the references but certainly will try to. I do appreciate the perspective though and glad that Devon found what you said was not there...that is not to say that it cant be improved to be there for you as well. Thank you both.
Wed, 31 Jul 2019 05:52 am
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