Saturday, June 30, 2007

poems being critiqued on another site

Ode to LI

Anne, fair of face and
full of grace, did try to do
herself in that day

fates that bind our souls
to earth with needle and gold
thread, did mend her wings

lithium: tiny silvery
element-tarnishes in
a minute, fresh cut

the grey gift,
better than a battery
25 years and still running

Rain On Me

Rain and brother consequence
how many words do we have for rain?
I am wordless in the midst of fat drops
that splat onto asphalt and as if-
I have opened a book and slapped it shut-
the drops grow hands and clap.

oh fuck what does it matter-
life comes and goes
we have no control
The void of one exquisite human being-
an essence of life, vitality, personality.
I miss you
miss you.
are we in the Bardo?
way too painful to be heaven-
a heaven of excruciating pain, maybe
my hands clap and thunder rolls

how many words for tears-

The Dance

lively music lured me
off the street the night we did meet;
amid a sumptuous spread of food
each dude and lady fair
began a lively dance,
great lines formed right and left

some thin- others with heft
whisky ran through our veins
fiddlers rubbed their strings raw
a path parted then I saw,
he stepped from the crowd;
wild straw hair, his chest was bare

he flung himself onto the floor
my heart was captured by the wild boar
a dance we did I must confess
so low and base I ripped my dress,
to hades we had fled,
tears where shed as we lay dead

My Nature Abused

A broken branch
I grew
like a river split
in two

I reach back
hold that child,
shield that baby,
heal my baby-girl
who is me

One river
one tree
a woman grown


a gentle wave of starlight
licking on the beach
of earth's skin
night shine
electric blue iris
glowing, growing
warning of a danger
ghostlike tendrils stretch
over new night skies
this earth too hot
her skin chillingly cold

she wandered the beach
gumbo earth took her foot with a screech
she fell to earth and lifetimes unfurled
memories of when she breathed for the world
laying under thin plastic
awaiting the fantastic
words like gum balls fell
candy for the insane death knell


'til starlight flickers
over your shoulder, I watch
sand shifting gently

diluting my tears
ice-caps of heart are melting
my personal warming

like dreams of our youth
I could balance on my head
till I went to bed

like dreams of our youth
I was so witty and gay
which got in my way

like dreams of our youth
wondering just who I might be
wrinkles sprinkled free

like dreams of our youth
reality slowed me down
smile now a frown

like dreams of our youth
nightmare of my death's release
when daydreams will cease

one eye on the sky
head cocked ready to retract
falling stars glitter

one eye on the sky
mountains burn embers glow bright
animals panting

one eye on the sky
lightening strobes under gray clouds
we run hand in hand

one eye on the sky
your belly on mine, we dance
shall we name baby?


of bitter-sweet grapes
skin, my neatly clipped nails peel
kneel- breathlessly close
your radiant lips
open, delicious


a chill wind whips my right eye
I watch intently as an eagle pulls at red flesh
he's standing on thin ice
dropping a bone he hops
rubbing his long yellow face
over ruffled ice
bothered ice
rumpled ice
he sips pooled water

a thirsty wind
steals my tears
and leaves them frozen
falling in small sparkling crystals

geese bark hiss walk
over the home-comb of ice
past the eagle
his white head turned
a pale yellow eye watching

I laid back
breathlessly waiting
to see the helicopters

yet the billowing smoke rose
opening with the sun
honey bees had fled

I laid back
panting for air
black fingers in my lungs

I watched the mountain burn,
dry hot wind blew
as animals ran

when night shut the sky
red embers burned hot
below the horizon

"I am from":

I am from naught
and unto naught I do become
yet, I linger longer than I should
in the naughty of naught

I am from anger
I burn a dusky red
your voice bristles my fur
your scent burns in my nose
quiet, I am subduing my fury
really what good would it do
this internal burn and waste of energy
you will always work against me, why I don't know
I resent your presence in my life, you great destroyer
I am forever creatively working around you, my rock.

resonses to my crit:

Her work does of the best things any poetry can do: it invites response. There is great honesty and openness in her work, and in her consistent play in the process of poetic thought, and in its community. By her example, I've come to a deeper personal appreciation of that play and process and community.

She is one of my favorite poet's here, and a bit mysterious. I am looking forward to this BOW crit, probably this weekend when I have the proper amount of time to devote to it.
I adore her way with words. It is as un-self-conscious, as free, as unique as anyone I've ever read. Her poems, without fail, feel as though they've been written to me, for me. She has a wondrous vocabulary, but she can use plain words to elegant effect just as well. And she knows just when slang or nonsense words will do the trick.

It's especially in her Snapshot poems that I find a spontaneous magic. It seems wrong even to suggest bridling her words with form.

Often, when I read her haiku, I think, she's already there -- where we're all trying to go.

She's capable of being topical, angry, tortured, blissful, horny, melancholy, forgetful, silly... anything. You can always tell it's her poem by its style, but you can't put her in a box, thematically.

Another thing I admire about her work is that it continues, regardless of the mortal storms many of us stir and endure here in the Poetry Forum. I find that humbling.

It's also interesting to me that, while most of her work here is untitled, and somewhat anonymous, it's unafraid and free. She reminds me that 'unafraid' need not be synonymous with 'aggressive' or 'ostentatious'. It just is. For example, this Snapshot poem:

heat blistering my neck
I stroll off the dance floor
my hair floating on hot sax tones

red glinting off long brown tresses
my breast bob
I wish they'd quit it

My butt is flirting the bar
I am being celibate
no one's taking me


*It's sultry, funny, annoyed, funny, and, finally, it dissolves into gentle pathos... only to slip the carpet out from under our feet at the end. In ten quiet lines.

Finally, her poems encourage me. During times when I think I've got little left to say, I read what she finds in small moments, or the unusual topics she finds, and I realise that, yes, there's more to write.

I'm a very big fan -- clearly.


robyn said...

The first thing that jumps out at me about her work is that you can read a particular piece once and get the feeling that it is a bit guarded and shrouded in it again a few minutes later and see it as wide open and almost embarrassingly forthright.

She is a bit of a mystery. I'm not one much for "pecking orders," but if we had one here based on poetic skills, she would be at or very near the top of it. Yet, as T--- pointed out, she rarely puts herself forward in the main crit forum, and chooses to participate mostly in the group projects and exercises. It is easy to build an image in my mind of her as somewhat shy and stand-offish, but then I read her poetry and the image fails.

"Ode to LI" is a perfect example of what I find so strange and wonderful about her work. You can read this as an attempted suicide's story of redemption, or a sarcastic "ode" to the chemical that this person must have in order to stave off their manic-depression...or both at the same time. The "fish hook" in this poem is the clever last stanza, which is presaged in the title by her use of the symbol for lithium, rather than the word "lithium" itself. The fact that lithium is used both as a component in medicines that treat manic depression, and as a material in dry cell batteries, gives the last stanza of this poem a quirky, ironic twist--and she accomplishes all of this with very deceptive ease.

In "Rain On Me," note the staggering beauty of the first stanza, and then note how she makes a 180 degree turn in the opposite direction with the first line of the second stanza...oh fuck what does it matter. Who but Robyn would ever describe the loss of a loved one as "the void of one exquisite human being." Rain as a symbol for tears and sadness, or loss, is not new, but in Robyn's talented hands the symbol is imbued with freshness, and new meaning.

In my original response to "The Dance," I said: This reminds me of the urban myth in which a "mysterious stranger" shows up at the dance (or ball, or party, or whatever) and turns out to be the devil (or satan, or old scratch, or whatever). I'm sure you know of what I speak, R. Well done, I like it a lot. That pretty much sums up my first reaction to this poem. Reading it again, I find a certain terrifying eroticism to the poem, or a burst of repressed sensuality. But with a typical Robyn twist, we are unsure at the end of the poem if the MC has been punished, or rewarded, for having surrendered to her passions.

"My Nature Abused" is probably my favorite of the poems that have been presented here, mostly for the amount of power that R is able to pack into twelve very short lines. In this aptly titled poem, the narrator makes a journey from broken to whole. The last stanza is nothing short of triumphant; a slender, delicate fist shaken in the face of those who would usurp childhood, debase innocence, murder love, and abuse the defenseless. I absolutely love this poem.

botz said...

omg, robyn. your poetry has really touched whomever is critiquing your pieces, and rightly so. these are really powerful and moving and funny, and have a huge range of effects...some turning corners that i didn't know existed.

the critique gives me an entirely new way to read your work. i cry knowing where your content comes from, where your experiences and sight comes from. through these strangers that purely know you though your work with new eyes, ears, new hearts, and probing curiosity, we/i get to sense you in an entirely new and fresh way.

you are an inspiration. love, botz