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online poetry workshop



Choking on You
Isabelle5

read the last line in a whisper

Last night, I said something to you that
 1
seemed to me of little consequence.  
 2
I should have recognized
 3
the signs before I spoke.
 4
Your hands were around
 5
my throat before
 6
I realized the danger.
 7
I was swimming in blackness
 8
when you opened the door
 9
and pushed me out
 10
into the night’s rain.
 11
 
 
I fled -
 12
barefoot,
 13
frightened, in pain -
 14
to the tennis court,
 15
where the lights were, blessedly, not on.  
 16
 
 
I hid in the farthest corner,
 17
crouching down like a beaten dog,
 18
afraid to move, too shocked to cry,
 19
worried that the lights
 20
of the police station next door
 21
would help you find me hiding there.
 22
 
 
The night casually
 23
went on while
 24
I sat shivering,
 25
clad only in a sweater and my slip,
 26
no time to pull on underwear or shoes.  
 27
 
 
I peed down a drain hole
 28
and felt ashamed
 29
to feel so ugly,
 30
to be so frightened
 31
and I finally wept.
 32
 
 
When the headache
 33
from your hold on me eased,
 34
I slipped back to the house,
 35
where I stopped to listen,
 36
hidden below our bedroom window.
 37
 
 
When I was certain that you slept,
 38
I crept into the living room
 39
curled up on the couch and finally
 40
I slept, too.
 41
 
 
And if I dreamed last night,
 42
I don’t remember.
 43
Actually, if I lived at all last night,
 44
 
 
I don’t remember.
 45

15 Aug 05

Rated 10 (7.9) by 4 users.
Active (4): 9, 10
Inactive (58): 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

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Comments:

woah, this is so powerful. i love l43. favorites.
 — bear

Thank you for that comment, Bear.
 — Isabelle5

You're welcome! :)
 — bear

Shoking content, well written.  If the poem is written from personal experience then you have my sympathy also.  I can't help but wonder what words could provoke such a response.
 — Kauf

I was wondering if replacing the I with a plain name wouldn't make it even more powerful because the readers would be at yet another "remove" from being able to help  poignancy would increase

this poem really makes me worry
good job
 — cynthmala

I believe the personal "I" adds to the impact of immediacy of the words.  Yes, it is personal and I hope that I captured the fear and sadness and sense of ghostliness in the words,  like living outside yourself while living it.  

We're all created by the rough things we go through, which adds compassion and gentleness to our souls, if we allow it.  Nothing is wasted in  life.

Imc
 — Isabelle5

Speaks volumes with just the right number of words.  Not "minimalist" by any stretch of the term, but you dont over do it eaither.  A very powerful poem, and one that is good enough to make me feel your pain and humiliation.  I'm sorry this happened to someone as great as you, Isabelle, and I admire your ability to keep your humor and loving attitude.  10 and a fav. for me.
 — SaleenDriva

Thank you.  And thank you all for realizing that there is no pity required, just an understanding that humans do terrible things to people they "love" and an abused woman can get over it, stronger than before.

Last I heard, he's married to wife #4 and I wish her nothing.  I was going to say nothing but the best but she dated him before we were separated so she can take what she wanted so badly!  lol
 — Isabelle5

wow. very vivid and raw, to place the reader right there with you. awesome write, i'm just sorry that something so horrible actually happened to you.
 — SteelAngel

Isabelle, apparently my sympathies are not required.  Pity is a controversial subject as is the cycle of abuse.  I hope that common decency and well wishing are not to be deemed alien to humanity as a result.   Just my weirdo take on the subject.
 — Meep

And why is this just good, when it could be better?
 — unknown

Why is this good when it could be better?  What a remarkable comment!  It could be applied to just about anything in any area of life!

What did YOU mean by it?  

Meep, I'm not sure what your comment means.  If you want to feel bad for the experience, that's okay, I just wanted people to understand that I didn't post this to engender sympathy.  Compassion, perhaps, for women who can't seem to leave abusive men.  It took me another 14 years to leave!  What's interesting to me is that this man has NO recollection of this event that was so shattering to me.  None at all.  Alcohol so completely enveloped his brain that night as to prevent any memory from being laid down.  I feel utterly more sorry for people like that than I do for myself.  I got away, he's got to live with himself.
 — Isabelle5

A very powerful poem:9

It must have taken great strength of character and self discipline to leave your partner after 14 years.  I think you made the right decision.  I have read some disturbing arts articles surrounding the nature of "pity" but been able to form no solid opinion other than it would be a shame if we were/humanity was  to lose our/its capacity to care.  If it were me, I would not give the man a second thought but then again I am quite selfish.  Thank you for taking the time to explain.
 — Meep

You must have pity but pity without action is useless.  All the problems we go through is ultimately to strengthen us, not for ourselves only, but so that when someone else has the problem, we can have compassion with the knowledge of how to help solve the problem.  Tears are good but without hands to help, what is the purpose of weeping?   If this would move one person to change their situation, one man to think carefully before raising a glass or a fist, then it's done it's job.  And even if it never does that, if it makes a reader think, I'm happy with that.
 — Isabelle5

This is very well done.
I love the third stanza, perfect impact
and drives the isolation home.
 — Krttika

This is excellent!  well written.  the reality of how this type of relationship affects a persons  human dignity is really captured.  I am inspired! Thank you.
Suggections:
went on...
while I sat
shivering
 — Riverwriter2

amazing
 — tragicbubble

i got chills!!!!!
 — unknown

Nice work. I read this, though, and kept feeling that this was prose in poetry form, not actually "poetry" (this thought comes after the definition of poetry I've seen you explaining in the past on PC). It's a narrative for sure, but a nice one.
 — unknown

Your stuff has never been interesting to me.
But this really stands out.
 — unknown

I have to laugh at the comment, "Your stuff has never been interesting to me."

Sometimes, me, too!  
 — Isabelle5

OOOooph!  This one hits home.  I hope it's not autobiographical.
Nice.
I would re-think your choice of "And" as the first word of some of your lines.
It's not really strong enough to start its own line.  
 — aforbing

wow.. amazing.
 — unknown

Autobiographical, yes.  Stronger because of it?  Also yes
 — Isabelle5

Jeez!  That's such bullsh*t!  Sorry you had to deal with this...
 — aforbing

Oh, Darlin', it's done.  Just the memory to remind me to be careful who I get close to.  
 — Isabelle5

wow.
 — themolly

this is why white trash love is the new axis of evil.
 — unknown

Who said this is about white people?  Not even implied.
 — unknown

this is wonderful isabella! you write as though you were there!were you? very good poetry!
 — Mahagnare

I was there.  Never going to be there again, though.  
 — Isabelle5

jerry springer wants you on his show
 — unknown

HAHAHAHA!  I am NOT White Trash!  I'm too intelligent and clean for that show, plus I have all my teeth, don't weigh 700 pounds and don't flash my breasts at anyone!
 — Isabelle5

another lifetime movie screenplay.


narcissus prodicus
 — unknown

I have this feeling that if my entire story ever gets out, PC might explode into flames.  secrets - we all have them!
 — Isabelle5

I don't see why this is on the top rated, especially no. 2! I didn't find it poeticic in the least.
 — unknown

I have no idea why it's #2, either.  Tasters choice?  I'm not complaining!
 — Isabelle5

i don't like the commas in the second stanza. there are too many, i think.
 — Lia

Amazing. Simply amazing.
 — Crisis_Angel

Its at the top because its effective AND affective!  Go Isabelle!
 — unknown

i'd only like to say this isabelle....  *hug*
:)
 — sugaraindrop

i'm sorry you had to go through this isabelle! here is another hug for you~ *hug*
 — lonelygirl

i like this its sad but wonderful
 — ICPChick420

The build up and the drama and raw emotion  of this are so wel expressed. I also like how it takes place under artificial light and at night - which at once emphasises the distorted perspective and sinister atmosphere you build. The police station is a nice touch too, emphasising the vulnerability and defencelessness of so many women in today's 'safe' culture, where protection is so close to hand, yet so far away. The end is excellent - carrying on the feeling of uncertainty and dislocated reality.
 — opal

Wow.... That is great and powerful. I love it!! <3
 — unknown

I saw every word, excellent job
 — dmartin

As always, wonderful work that is lovely to read. thanks again! -BR-
 — BlueRock

I can sincerely say that if I had known, while I was half dressed and huddling in the shadows in the rain, that someday that experience would translate itself into something a little good, I might have found some small comfort in the future.

Thank you all for the comments.  You know the old "what doesn't kill you," thing.  True enough.
 — Isabelle5

I would guess your nasty, vicious comment is because I didn't particularly like your poem Jesus is an alcoholic?  I'm far from whoredom, my irritated poet friend.

The word penis really isn't good for shock value.
 — Isabelle5

Not sure what you're upset about, GOS.  Get a grip, this is only poetry.
 — Isabelle5

Slutty is good, being gods only son...gay
 — unknown

that is amazing. i really can 'see' this poem, its very well written. and it makes me think of my own experience, which you have captured so well
 — leviathan

very well written. it is interesting how u chose to capture the mental torture, the loss of dignity rather that the physical torture, the violence. Puts things into perspective.
 — krsrevol

It's, well, amazing. Beautifully sorrowful and full of emotions. I think I almost cried..
 — HellsAngel

Ugh!  I haven't thought about him for years!
 — unknown

This is so sad and so good. You keep the feel throughout the poem.
 — Hear

this is intriguing and vivid.  i can play it in my head.  its very lovely.  good job.
 — hauntedlies

Its very vivid. I love this poem its so personal. The only thing I cold say bad about it is it doesn't really flow, but that might also be a good thing, in its intesity. Great poem!
 — Solstice

This is brilliant. The only thing I did not like was the mention of tennis courts. you immediately convey a certain class, a certain lifestyle and it may put a lot of people off. The class conscience at least. But otherwise, this great
 — Trish77

"yawn"    



stated as a whispher
 — unknown

I say tennis courts because that is where I went to hide!  
 — Isabelle5

Oh, I see what you mean.  We lived near the library, the police station, the City Hall and there was a tennis court.  Not trying to imply wealth!  Far from it!  We were in a rented house that I painted and put new tile in, nothing fancy at all.
 — Isabelle5

I understand and your'e reasoning makes sense. I just think its important to be aware of how different groups can take a piece. Thanks again.
 — Trish77

This is not what it should be.

Too much shock value, but poorly used. It is impressive, maybe to the naive.
 — unknown

This is really intense and powerful. The ending lines 42-45 are kind of a let down at least in comparison to the rest but maybe the softness of it is what you were going for. Anyway I was moved and I guess I can forgive for your comment on my work now.
 — januarygirl

januarygirl, what comment?  Who else did I annoy today?  

The last lines are to be read hushed and tired, completely exhausted emotionally.  As though you are no longer sure what is real and what is a dream.  Just imagine a black and white stage with someone nearly comotose on it, trying to crawl one step and not even having the energy for that much.
 — Isabelle5

This is gorgeous, well written, and undeniably sad.  You might consider making the last line in italics, it might set it off a little bit.
 — fallinforyou

Isabelle, amazing technique! - I read your head note - went to end to read the last line, then just had to see how you got there, a splendid journey! (although at 45 lines long I did pack a lunch, but it just flew by!) :o)
 — hobby

Seems to me you are writing of a personal experience, or at the least an experience of one you know involved in an abusive relationship.  It's a pretty good narrative poem...and it contains a lot of tragic images which the reader can truly see in their minds.

I do hope this is not at all true to yourself...take good care.

Jo
 — NoWayJo

the title reminds me of a website i am a member of. it's an affliction, alas.

www.lpsg.org
 — noodleman

oh shit. now i read the poem and i feel like a total ass. im sorry. is just tryint to make ya laff.
 — noodleman

Noodle, I tried to open the website you attached and it's blocked by my company!  You know I'd forgive you anything, though, so whatever it is, no matter to me.

This WAS a real experience and if there are any battered women out there, take courage in the fact that I removed myself eventually from the situation (20 long years later) and am all better.  I learned a lot from it, which is the most important thing, in my opinion.  
 — Isabelle5

i love this poem you tell it so true
 — 21slits

I've lived this life, but like you, I finally found the courage to leave. It is one thing to read about it, it is quite another to live it. Very touching Isabelle5, on a very personal level. I wish you long lasting peace.
 — marionette

Thank you,

sleepingwiththedoorlocked
 — unknown

(most) men suck anyway.  love isn't supposed to hurt like this.  so i'm glad u got away from this dude too.  the imagery couldn't be any sharper.  it was like watching p.t.v (poetry tele vision)!.  great poem
 — starr

A very tight and nicely done poem. The imagery is like being drawn into a film. My heart was pounding faster as I read. It should be published. I am so glad you got out. I hope it didn't
too long for you to realize your capacity and strength to leave. I wish more women would
say, once is enough.

-sandburger
 — unknown

Nah, it didn't take me long to leave him.

only 20 years...
 — Isabelle5

Random - Stanzas 1 and 5 are really strong. I thought the last four lines were weak.
 — xixtas

wow
 — vienta

Look at YOU risin' to the top like the cream in my mornin' coffee!  Congrats!  :-)
 — starr

Oh Isabelle,
I'd never read this before.  
I am shattered and amazed by your writing.
 — jenakajoffer

Bullet proof.
 — neverthehero

wow.
: )
 — fractalcore

I think you should change the commas after fled in 12 and court in 14 to dashes.

Also you might think about altering the ending to make it more powerful.

If I dreamed last night,
I don't remember.
Actually, if I lived last night,

I don't remember.
 — unknown

Excellent work, much too common experience for women from all walks of life.
 — unknown

Excellent suggestions for slight change.  I am far removed enough by now to remember the event clearly without the residual pain.  I wish all women would learn that even one bit of abuse, verbal or otherwise, is too much.  
 — Isabelle5

What a story Isabelle5 -- gripping through to the end with all the right imagery to segue into the next scene. An anguish story of the red angers and their devastating affect. The double-beat at the end with the 'I don't remember' resonated like a heart beat just slowing down after adrenaline based survival arrhythmia has just passed. This story cries out in the night to all who have been marginalized and dispossessed by the arrogance of ignorance that anger 'oft is. I just breathed a deep breath -- and my eyes burn!
 — AlchemiA

Oh, Baby, wipe your eyes and promise you'll never let anyone abuse you.  
 — Isabelle5

Congratulations on the #1 Top Rated spot.  This poem deserves the be read by both men and women alike for its message.  Love, Starr
 — starr

Ooops...I mean "deserves TO be read" not "the be read."  I was typing and working at the same time.  We know how that is!  
 — starr

Sounds like an abused wife, so sad that love turns to hate, vivid presentation
 — weps

I'd make L16 "where the lights were out"...

yes, pretty damn good. i suppose.
 — DeformedLion

"Your stuff has never been interesting to me.
But this really stands out."

I have to agree, this is most certainly one of your better works.  Line 44 needs to be fixed (all all?).  Some of the phrasing is crude, sounds forced, though I'm sure you'll say it's what you were aiming for seeing as the character was forced into a crude situation.  While this is a touchy subject, I'll say it would probably be better off as a whimsical paragraph in your journal.
 — unknown

Loved the unfolding of the plot.

I felt that L32 could be

'that I finally wept'
 — JoelJosol

holy cow this is flippin fantastic.

you go bitch.
 — BoundFeet

this is really haunting. the images are beautiful but depressing of course. i love how you captured everything. this is ...

i could go on.
 — listen

i like this
 — LaLa16

WOW this is my favorite poem so far... its so suspicious because im wandering if youve been raped or beaten or what but it was very deep and everyline was interesting... so were you raped or what?
 — TyanaExpress

No, I was not raped.  This is marital bliss, didn't that come through?  haha  Woman sometimes equate love with pain.  Well, some of us do.  Did!
 — Isabelle5

ouch!
 — sexfear

To me this amounts to the simple telling of a traumatic event. Even as prose, it lacks power because of the uninspired word choices. The descriptors are bland and too easily forgettable. Break out your thesaurus. There are poetic opportunities here. Show us why you should have realized. How were you certain that he slept? Give up some description of the other important character in this narration. I know this is supposed to be focused on the battered woman, but it would mean a lot more to your readers if you gave some indication of what set your monster off. You tell us that you were frightened. No shit. That you do show well enough that you don’t need to tell.
 — unknown

A very sad story, that has offered nothing more than the usual.  It doesn't help that you posted a direction to read the last line in a whisper...be confident enough in your work not to second guess the readers ability to read and understand.  This could be improved by tightening up..too wordy as it stands.
 — unknown

Perfect.
 — amaviena

Ah, so this is what it feels like to be a woman.
 — OKcomputer

can the stage directions, diva, otherwise pretty powerful stuff
 — unknown

'I' poems are so difficult

there are some nice shapes here, if only you could and cull the redundant fat and write the poem without using I 17 or so times,
 — unknown

A well written and powerful poem.  This is a great example of the fact that you don't need thousand dollar words to write good poetry.
 — PaulS

oh, Isa-Ls 44-45...such raw emotion, very brave writing
 — addagirl

Brave? Maybe. Powerful? Far from it. The opportunity for poetry is passed up for the easier bad prose. Telling.
 — unknown

I've been reading a lot of poetry lately, good poetry, that is also more like prose when you first read it.  I do remember that the experience of this was very powerful.  If it didn't come across that way, especially if you are a man reading this, I can't change it for your benefit but I appreciate the comment and read.
 — Isabelle5

You're kidding, right?  I change my poems all the time based on comments and suggestions from poets!!  I'm sorry if things you've said haven't caused me to rush right in and change anything but when the changes actually do the poem good, I make them.

Since I don't know who you are, I'm trying not to take your personal digs personally but ouch anyway.  I work as hard on my craft as anyone else here, believe me.  

Imc
 — Isabelle5

It's not personal, Isabelle. It's about your writing. Of course I'll take your word that you do heed the opinion of others. Sorry if I hurt your feelings.
 — unknown

This poem definitely put the picture in my head. I could feel the cold drizzle down my spine. Both from the rain and the impending walk back through that door. The sentiment was well related. And cowards who harshly criticize as "unknown" should go fuck themselves. Post your handle, so we may pick your paltry prose apart!
 — grneyeddevil

I'm sobbing.
This is.. close to home.
Back at a later date for a proper comment when I'm more composed.
 — WordsAndMe

Oh how the hell did I not figure this was you, Isa?  Beautiful, in the most morbid way.
 — WordsAndMe

Words, I wish you would write to me.  
 — Isabelle5

I've been there. This is a beautiful poem.
 — meth_angel

That is one of the most powerful poems I have ever read!
 — Dreamer89

my heart breaks around this poem. 10
 — wemsntdspair

Sad but powerful write.
 — JKWeb

Don't be sad, it was a long time ago and I don't even know where this man is anymore, haven't seen him since the day I packed and left.
 — Isabelle5

Weiiiird. kinda spooky but ...yeha it was kinda chilling

i like it!
 — psychofemale

all its missing is a glade
 — unknown

Domestic violence never goes out of fashion, does it?
 — unknown

a gripping thriller of a poem.
picturesque. I can imagine a haunting cello-piano accompaniment humming into a crescendo in my head as I read it.
 — suedehead

I object to being told how to read a line.
I happen to like short stories.  Read and write them all the time.
I don't like them passed off as poetry, though.
 — aurelius

Powerful and unsettling.  I've been in a similar situation and fully understand the combination of fear, humiliation, and shame.
 — sybarite

I thought this would be about a blowjob.  Not what I was anticipating.
 — OldShoe

Real life rarely is, Oldshoe.
 — Isabelle5

excellent read
 — aforbing

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