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burning in A'Sayliyah

Shadows stand straight in the sand;
an idiot breeze has caught hold
of the phantoms,
and bolts strike back
when steel is surprised
by the call of the muezzin.
And where does the
wheat-colored girl fit in,
when sparrows wilt in the heat
and feed on our prayers?
She is tending an oven
in an open kitchen
on the other side of the world.
Here, steel and sand
reach astonishing temperatures,
and soldiers
simmer in a slow-broiling sun.

28 Apr 05

Rated 5 (7.8) by 2 users.
Active (2):
Inactive (29): 1, 1, 1, 3, 3, 6, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

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content: excellent. can feel the idiot breeze from here.

form: L7 sticks out like a sore thumb, yar. if nothing else i'd drop 'when' done to L8.

rating this anyway. curious to see who this is.
 — youthculture

Where is A'Sayliyah?  Is this an ancient battle or something I should know about if I read the news?  Interesting view of war and distance.
 — Isabelle5

Thanks, youthculture.  I modified the way line 7 looks, and thanks, Isabelle5, for your take on it.  A'Sayliyah is in Qatar, somewhat stuck between centuries, strange and beautiful.
 — mikkirat

much better.
 — youthculture

Mikki, how's the desert?  Wishing you peace and a non-sandy bed.

This needs more readers!
 — Isabelle5

i think if steel is surprised by the caller of prayers it would
squeal back
in cooking, simmering brings to a boil, roasting is broiling -- the images (to a cook like myself) confuse.
everything else i'd say (for me) is excellent.
 — Bloodfetish

Thanks, Bloodfetish... I wasn't 100% sure if the (mixed metaphor?) in cooking would be all that distracting, but I guess it is.  Maybe I just need a new verb for "simmer" in the final line, because I'm pretty much married to "slow-broiling."  Oh, and I just now realized why bolts might seem confusing; I didn't mean bolts as in "nuts & bolts" but bolts chambering rounds in M-16s.  I don't know that I can change that, but a new verb for line 17 would be welcome.  Thanks again.
 — mikkirat

ah, gun bolts
no squeal there for sure ...
wasn't think nuts & bolts, but rather sliding bolts on doors
much clearer now

 — unknown

Isabelle5, the desert is still here; Spring sandstorms (lots), and dollars and poor Tennessee boys still being thrown into it.  And friggin' hot, only to get worse.  Last stanza about an armored-personnel carrier you could've fried an egg on.  I'm okay, though, thanks; six months down, and six to go.
 — mikkirat

holy shit. this is great. first strophe is well last too well the whole thing is astonishingly good and wheatcolored.

i wish i could write like this. sigh.
 — noodleman

hey, mikki
as i remember the sound of the M-16 (or my semi-auto shotgun), i might suggest this to clear (my own) confusion of bolts.

line 4: and bolts crack back

precision weapons slide for sure, but the action is quick and accompanied by a noise many find threatening ... i remember the clack/crack of loading a round
 — Bloodfetish

Just a thought: what would happen if you put "there," instead of an "and" at the beginning of the second stanza, you can parallel it with the last one.  I love the heat, cooking, burning metaphors . . . you know I love this.  I absolutely love the last two lines.  
Safe flight tomorrow!
 — slancho

line 6 reminded me of the muzzy tapes.  good times.
 — sassybnyss

noodleman -- thanks, but I've seen plenty of excellent s*** under your byline...

Bloodfetish -- I was going to change line 4 "bolts slide back" to "bolts crack back" as suggested to get the weapons charging a bit clearer, but then thought I wanted to keep up a bit of sibilance in the 1st stanza.  I'm not sure if the phrase "strike back" will bring any unwanted baggage into a reader's mind.

slancho -- I'll have to mull over your suggestion.  You know I'm loathe to rush things, Darling     ;)

and sassybnyss, thanks, but muzzy tapes?  Do tell what that is.  I swear, sometimes I'm so unhip it's a surprise my ass doesn't fall off.
 — mikkirat

Mmmmm this poem made me taste colors. Yes, apparently I can taste colors. The imagery was beautiful.... I honestly can't find anything wrong..... *sigh* oh well, I suppose that that's a good things. Beautiful, beautiful indeed.
 — shadowskiss

Thanks, shadowskiss.  Somehow the Udairi desert lends itself to some amount of minimalism... and I'm still aspiring to "remove the poet from the poem" as it were.  Do accept my apologies for sporadic, prolonged absences from PC -- the Army does that sometimes -- but do know that even if I can't get time to comment, I do look for your work when I check in.
 — mikkirat

this poem is astounding.

that's all i'm gonna say about it for now.
 — CajunMoon

Mikkirat, there is no reason at all to apologize, your critiques are wonderful and the ones I have are fine to last me a while. You've astounded me with this poem, and I think you did capture alot of "removing the poet from the poem" . I look forward to your next.
 — shadowskiss

Amazing, and the words make it come alive. (10)
 — Subtle

two thumbs up. killer.
 — ollylama

bout time this made it to number one.
 — noodleman

I get a feeling of great sadness from this poem. The ignorance of the girl is familiar.
 — winter

This is stunning and evocative. It makes me feel the heat, the fear, the sounds of faith and war clashing, and it does it so well, you must be really proud of this one.

Lines 4-6 just beautiful.

I wouldn't change a thing now that you've made some slight alterations. Well done.
 — smugzy

Nice poem, only strike back doesn't work for me.
 — unknown

This could have made a good poem, with a certain amount of thought, and application, there are far too many weak lines here that drift into obscurity.

The title is indicating it is an American service base in Saudi Arabia presumably in some form of turmoil, one expected slightly more from the poem.

However, it is only a girl cooking at a field kitchen.

Is she really, at the far side of world, not to her, she is in the centre of her world.
And most people would agree that central Asia is not the other side of the world, it could in fact be described as the centre of the world, certainly if listening to the voice of the
Muezzin four times away has any influence.

The last line of you poem is a nonsense.
Soldiers may broil slowly in the heat of the Tropic of Cancer, but there is certainly nothing slow about the burning rays of the sun.

What you are suggesting that it is the sun that broils.

This poem needs a least one profound statement to make it memorial,

I would give this a rating of six.

Arminius Prodicus  
 — unknown

 — RandiSusan

Who is Arminius Prodicus ? Can someone tell me what he/she has written...the critiques read like they were from a self-ordained poet laureate....I simply must  see from where all this arrogance is born.
 — RandiSusan

It wouldn't use the phrase "idiot breeze" but the rest is good. Captures you, makes you burn a little.
 — Hear

Thanks RandiSusan, Hear... I'm glad when people can fill in for themselves, get their own interpretations and sensations from poetry.  I try to evoke lightly (if that makes sense), and sometimes even find that certain people will read much more, and more deeply, into one of my poems than what I originally intended, and that is a joy of its own.

I know "idiot breeze" could seem difficult or jarring, as it has, for a lot of people, heavy connotations, but a word like "senseless" just doesn't seem to work; other words which might evoke a conscious power of some sort, some kind of "divine wind" would seem too editorial, like the poet would be making some sort of statement on the right or wrong of the war.  Yet there are phantom fears, and some very "real" things I wanted to set the poem in, and the semi-conscious, unwittingly destructive seemed to work as "idiot."

So thanks for taking the time to comment.  As for the other question, RandiSusan, I have no idea, but I wonder if anyone else, reading the comment about a "slow broiling sun" meaning the sun itself is broiling, considered whether that individual ever spent any time "in the sun," or maybe spent too much time "in the sun."
 — mikkirat

mikkirat- I love the use of the word idiot to modify breeze.
However, if you were concerned with using the word divine because you feared it might be too editorial....(a political statement as to the validity of the war) I must tell you that I interpreted the word "idiot" in just that way.....an idiot breeze would be an apt description of one blowing around an idiot war (which indeed, all wars are) Idiot breeze...a current of thoughtless movement...chaotic, without a real plan. But that's just one woman's thoughts.
Also, slow-broiling sun is perfect....no, the sun isn't broiling, the soldiers are, of course.
Wishing you safety and peace
 — unknown

I answer to the Mikkirat question, I spent three years in the Belgian Congo as a mercenary commander, and in addition, I spent time, courtesy of The Royal Engineers, on Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean.
I also spent time, in those jungles of Borneo, this time wearing the Red Beret, and fighting terrorists in their jungle strongholds.

Therefore, I do know a certain amount about the broiling effects of equatorial suns, and their accompanying high humidity levels.

The Tropic of Cancer would therefore have been in comparison, a sheer delight to operate in.

I still maintain the last line is wrong.

This in my experience, is how those last two lines, should presumably, have been written.

“as soldier’s simmer slowly, in its broiling sun”

Arminius Prodicus.

 — unknown

I like this a lot.  I will offer a couple of humbled subjective suggestions.

I think you should end the poem on the girl.  i.e., make strophes 2 and 3, 3 and 4, and put 4 up at 2.

Also, I think "the other side of the world" might be "her side of the world.
 — housepoppy

Oops.  I meant make the last strophe the first, the first the second...
 — housepoppy

Relates changes in climate to scene well.  The poem explains events accurately without being too historical.  Good poem, enjoyed.
 — Kauf

Originally, I thought this poem had a certain depth, but having read it again, it is starting to appear very superficial,

Which is possibly, what the author intended.

The title was very misleading; the narrator is really what appears to me, just a squaddy in a supply camp, and in no great imminent danger, other than to be alert, at all times.

I would have liked to see this poem developed into deeper lines of thought.

Trying to stay within the limitations of the original concept
I would have preferred something more, along these lines.

Shadows lay straight
in shimmer’s sand
hot whisper’s wind
of a Mahdi’s mind
as from too
a phantom’s sense
where bolts ram
in ever nervous

As second call, of Muezzin
his clearer term, recalls
times restless voice, of Islam
and life’s infidel appals.

Arminius Prodicus
 — unknown

for once I agree
with that dipshit Armi-
 — unknown

Ah, thank you for your subtlety. This is a breath of fresh air from the general ranty, tactless war poems one generally sees.
 — sapphonix

very strong/striking. The ordinary - cooking/ the heat of the desert/sun and then the heat of war/ Well woven through the whole piece. Really enjoyed it.
 — dannyboy