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The Moon Fell

Remember how
the moon fell  
mirrored on  
our pallid skin.  
Our voices were low and  
the world fell around us like ash;  
we talked long of heaven  
and I still wonder if  
it is wrong to ache
for death at twenty-three.

25 Jun 06

Rated 8 (8.5) by 1 users.
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wow heavy
 — unknown

    Lovely.  The first five lines -- ten words, sixteen quick syllables -- are so simple, yet could be a long chapter, or novella, there are so many potential stories contained in it.  It engages the reader quickly, highly effective.  I also love the conspicuous absence of melodrama; nothing is said about "our" relationship, and no explication or justification of the final lines, "to ache/for death at twenty-three."
   That said, I might suggest a different word-choice for "fell" in line 8 (the world fell around us like ash) as it is already present in line 2 (and the title).  I wish I could think of something more fitting than "precipitate" right now, but my brain is still half into a paper comparing 1940s Los Angeles with Buenos Aires in the 1920s.  Damn college.
   Secondly -- and I know this might seem painful surgery -- do consider the ache for death "at twenty-three."  That seems to be the only thing which limits the reader in any way (not even gender is a limitation here, this could be either a male or female voice), and that fragment could be most anything to anyone: to long for death when the robins return, when your kiss is still warm on my cheek, when autumn closes with a whisper, anything... it really depends on what kind of relationship you want the reader to have with the poetic voice.
   This is exceptionally beautiful; I will hear this voice many times in quiet moments to come.
 — mikkirat

oh!  thank you so so much mikkirat.  that comment means so much to me.

I love that you see many potential stories in this, because in a sense that is the way it is in my mind as well.  

I, too, was annoyed by the repetition of the word fell, but also could not think of anything better.  I will continue to think on it.

Yes, changing the end may be painful surgery, as it was in some ways the basis for my writing this.  But what you've said makes sense so I see that I may benefit from taking the nasty medicine.  Maybe at a later time when I'm more distant from this, I will be able to view it through a better perspective.  

Thank you!
 — jerotich

I have to agree with unknown.  This poem fell on me like the heaviest of shadows.  Ha, now we've all abused the word fell.  Actually in the poem, it doesn't bother me at all.  I suppose there may be a better word out there, but fell seems unpretentious and simple, and its impressive that you've managed to create such a heavy poem which is just that.  

I like 'twenty-three', but my bias is clear as that is my age as well.  Excellent poem.  Its the first that I have even thought to add to my favorites.  And I will.
 — Machsee

awesome.  thanks, machsee.
 — jerotich

Splash, don't you know about the moon splash?

Listen to a song by Explosions in the Sky

It is called, "The Moon is Down."

Plus, splash rhymes with ash.

that could be a bad thing though...

I dislike the talking of heaven (mostly because it falls into poetic tongue too easily becoming very close to cliche)....perhaps you need to talk about the moon just crashing into the ground, imagine that image, then make a metaphor for that image, and place it in the place of heaven. (l. 10)

Low voices is too close to deep voices, I imagine the mood here as people in the night, speaking so gently that the wind is the ferry of message, low does not do this mood justice, consider a change.

The end, really, is predictable. You have set up this great moment, and just like every person preceding you, you wish to pause this moment to live there forever by wanting to end the life at this perpetual perfection. Such an idea would be great if there were not millions of others wanting and expressing the same thing. Make your idea unique, instead of wanting to die at this moment (a moment that one can conclude is the greatest possible moment), why not ask to zoom in? Zooming in, becoming small, is the greatest possible slowing of time. I think you should play with relativity if you are up to it.

Rain, condense, flurry, sunk, worked, burned, cooked, breathed....

Lines 1,2,3,4,8 are your best lines, the rest need fixing.

Don't leave the moon, The moon here should be a beginning, a middle, and an end.
 — pra3torian

Pra3torian, thanks very much for your detailed critique.  I love when 14 lines can spark so much.  

I'm afraid, though, that you have rather missed my meaning.  In some ways I guess I should be glad, because I didn't want to be completely clear.  

Interesting what you say about low.  I really want to keep the wording here as simple and concise as possible.  But I will try to reflect on what mood I want that word to convey.  

I'm sorry if the word heaven has become overly poemy now.  I don't mean it that way.  We were literally talking about Heaven.  I guess I could capitalize it in the poem, but ew.

I cannot say the moon splashed, because I am talking about the moon falling.  This is not meant to describe a "perfect" moment, but a rather painful one.  The realization that the natural world will crumble, including our physical bodies.

So what do you think of that?  Do you prefer my poem interpretted the "predictable" way?
 — jerotich

Horrible but in a good way.

 — unknown

Read a little "Reader Response Criticism" to understand the "meaning" that you believe derives in what you "MEANT" to say.

You see, once your words leave your mind, there is no more meaning. THE MEANING IS NOT YOURS TO DECIDE. Very groundbreaking, Yes, it is. But if you understand this fact, you can learn how to edit your poem into something greater than you could before.


So, how does that help you? Well, it forces you, when editing, to detract yourself from your own meaning and try to understand the poem from a detached mind (that would be, a mind concerned with the words rather than the ideas you have attached to the words). I cannot argue with the points I made because you don't seem to want to change at all. You, I suppose, just want approval....good for you. But bear in mind, the reader cannot analyze the mind of the speaker nor should the reader have to.

And of course you were not talking of "heaven" as in pearly white gates with God on the bong and Jesus paying shuffle board. How fucking dumb do you thank I am? But when the reader approaches that word "heaven," then the reader thinks you must either be talking about a "perfect place" or "the skies" as the skies are oftenly referred to as the heavens. Such word choice poses an even greater problem in that you have created a broad blanket statement. Everyone has a different interpretation of heaven, and by just saying heaven you wish to play a lazy act in not honing your thoughts.

But as was the thesis of this post, you probably will defend your argument (as the whole world turns at the same hemisphere) and say "that is what I wanted to do etc etc." You are just making an excuse preventing yourself from becoming a good poet.
 — pra3torian

tell them, "what is reality".

 — unknown

and after the moon sets, a sun rises.
 — unknown

Could you elaborate on that, meep?

I can't respond to you right now pra3torian because you've made me angry.  Maybe later.
 — jerotich

This is about perfect.  
 — Isabelle5

You said fell twice. It doesn't work for me in such a short poem.

otherwise, it's cute :)

 — unknown

This is good.

A suggestion: use the first line as the title, start with the second line (possibly follow through with 2 three line stanzas and 2 two line stanzas which would mean re-working your line breaks), and instead of using the second 'fell', try swayed, tumbled (possibly too harsh sounding), etc.

ex - Remember how (title)

      the moon fell
      mirrored on
      our alabaster skin.

     Our voices were low
     and the world swayed
     around us like ash;

Just my opinion. Nice poem.
 — unknown

hey, perfect spacing between the economically effective lines. really like this.
 — listen

This is absolutely one of the most beautiful poems I've ever read on this site.  Just awesome.  "10."  As far as longing for death goes...long for life FIRST.  Your time (and mine) will come on its own.  "10."
 — starr

This is such a nice change from byzantine pieces that seem to go on for miles.  This is gorgeous in a more simple way, and it really reels the reader in.
 — Mai

Isabelle, mai, starr, listen, unknowns-- thank you.

I have looked at this poem too many times in the last week to think of editing it right now.  But hopefully soon I can look at it a little more objectively.
 — jerotich

power in brevity - damn good

 — unknown

I could smell a #1 in this poem!  Congratulations!  
 — starr

I like the simple way you bring us into your memory.  I always tread very carefully when using the word “remember” or “memory”.  I think your “remember” is okay.

“alabaster skin” is a description I’ve read far too often; it holds little interest.  I strongly recommend a different, fresher, adjective.

Declarative statements using the “be” verb often turn me off.  Again, it depends, but in line 5 it doesn’t work.  My suggestion:
            ;  the world fell like ash / around low voices long / on talk of heaven  
This treatment also brings down the currently excessive number of pronouns.

I feel the same way about “I wonder” as I do about “I remember”.  Line 8 does nothing but blandly usher us into the end of the poem.

Because you split tenses in the fourth couplet, I’m thinking that the other half of your “we” is dead at 23.  If that’s the case, I think you need a smoother way of getting from past tense to present, that may involve lengthening the poem.  If what you mean is that you longed for death at 23—then and now—the fix is much easier and could be done by shortening the poem.

I'll rate when you're satisfied.
 — housepoppy

Let me address this reader response criticism BS. It's true that this is a relevant discourse for finished poems, but on a website like this, which are essentially online writer's workshops, reader response criticism is somewhat useless... except for when tools in the midst of their first critical theory class begin to cling to one form of criticism and tout their new-found love in an attempt to play the intellectual. I think it is far more useful to jeritoch if we can consider what she is aiming to accomplish in her poem in order to help her get closer to achieving it. That said, a poem never rests flat on the page... this is why poetry is so powerful... because each reader will bring his/her own unique experiences and vision to a piece of art... keeping a work breathing, alive as long as their are fresh eyes. In another sense, this is why even a single beloved poem grows with us as we age... because our ever-expanding outlooks on life help us to see an old poem with new eyes.

There's a time and a place for theoretical brass balls. Here, no one cares about what you learned in Theory 101. Remember, too, that there are several other theories that reject subjective readings for more objective ones.
 — unknown

The mythic Chevelier, with his pregnant checkmarks pronouncing judgment to their adjacent lines, would probably ask you if your first line is holding any weight. It seems that “remember how” is merely an occasion to jump into what the speaker is trying to remember. I’ve seen this with some of your other poems… the need to create an occasion, the false start.

The remember here is interesting, though, if you contrast it with what is happening at the end of the poem. There is so much that is left unsaid revolving around how this memory leads to a pervasive longing for death. But is this silence effective or frustrating… I’m not sure yet. The vague moment of this poem needs to be grounded, either with suggestive language or a clearer understanding of the relationship, to really allow the reader to remember along with the speaker. I think the way to go here is with the suggestive language. The repetition of “fell” didn’t bother me, but I think here is an occasion to flavor your poem with some hint to the overarching emotional schema. First let me say that I think the mood of the poem is very well constructed and even the last couplet does ache, in its way. However, I’m not sure that your verbs are doing all the work they could be doing. ---Fell, mirrored, were, fell, talked, wonder--- could all be more pointed to what is behind the poem… to give a more pervading sense of what is driving the work.

And that is what seems to be missing--- I have no idea what is driving the strong emotion of the poem. I assume and hope that is it something universal, some deeply human, big something that we all feel. I think put weight on your verbs to get to this. Consider what it is that causes the speaker to ache for death at such a young age. I think you can keep the mystery (because I suspect what is behind this emotion is a certain awe, or fear, of the mystery of life in general)… but let the reader into the poem more, because the reader IS making an emotional investment here. So, see, I think without knowing what the conversation is about… we need some sort of clue.

If you’re interested in what I mean when I say use verbs that are pointed to the overall meaning of the poem, I’d suggest Elizabeth Bishop whose every word choice is pointed to the emotional/intellection work of the poem. It just creates something very tight.

Geez. Sorry. The more I think of it, the more that pra3torian dude seems like a J.A. Back to my critique.

That leaves me with the last couplet. I don’t think it is predictable really. I know twenty-three year olds, and most of them aren’t sitting in moonlight aching to die… most of the time. And you have to keep in mind, the depressive, artsy types I hang with. I think it’s interesting to talk of heaven and to want to die. Reminds me of this chubby guy, you know the one… wants to be a cop and sounds like he’s Australian… whose strange version of Christianity has led him to hating life on earth and wanting nothing more than to be in heaven. Anyway, I think it is the mystic setting mixed with proximity to a discussion on heaven that makes the ending somehow powerful. I was reading the other posts and thinking about the age here. These were my thoughts: is this feeling dependent on being so young? Or could this be more universal. What implications are forced to colour the poem by the age here?

Alright, ms. cow coming home, I really want to say that this poem is one of your finest. Comes a long way from the jogger poem back in the day. The simplicity of the expression is beautiful… so if you are going to heed my verb-changing criticism, do so with care… keep it simple. The couplets are interesting. Still thinking about this choice. I’m wondering if a three-line stanza would serve you better. Consider it… and ditch it if it’s too cheesy (I’m suspecting it might be). Lovely poem.

 — unknown

Heh, I was looking back at this. It seems to me both pra3 and his unknown enemy are pretentious fucks. The word of the day is brevity. Also, pra3 that's very condescending to type in all caps.

Really, I don't dig this poem... it's okay, but as has been repeated, very cliche.

This is a take it or leave it poem, there is really no use to critique the words. How can it improve?

So, yeah, mr pra3, I find it hilarious that you are not even a writer, yet you talk about what a poet does. I think that in order to comment or have an acct you should have to have poems posted (even as unknown.)

Don't be spiteful.

 — unknown


and your judgment here makes you so much less pretentious. neither is your word choice, "enemies"  exactly right. consider the effect of your strong language on real people.

brevity is fine when brevity does the job. in this particular case, indepth critique was at the specific request of the writer. pull the spur out of your rear-end and offer helpful criticism or keep quiet.

if you are indifferent to the poem itself, why are you bothering to even offer a comment? Seems like there are three of us pretentious, as you say, fucks. Or perhaps you merely like the sound of your keyboard.

By the way, have a heart... perhaps the poet deserves some respect...  if you are capable of it.
 — unknown

Haha, respect? What's that? I've certainly never experienced it. I give what I expect... which is the truth. Sugar coating does nothing for a 'writer.'

At the end of the day, you're still unknown.

 — unknown

Respect and "sugar-coating" are really very different things.  How can you equate them, rh?  
 — unknown

interesting, but not great. Fell is used 3X, including the title. That's not good.
Also, forgive me, but I think you're wondering the wrong thing. Aching for death is wrong at any age if you're going to sit in judgement. It's better not to sit in judgement because that's one hard and boring and unforgiving chair.

so..... what was I saying?
This. this  is what I was saying:

it is wrong to ache
from life at twenty-three

Footnote: We're the same age.
 — unknown

otl- you just told me it was wrong to sit in judgment of people who ache for death... which I don't understand because I don't believe I'm judging anyone, rather just reflecting on my own melancholy and restlessness.  And then you tell me in the same breath that it is wrong to ache for death... and wrong to wonder about it, to boot... your own "judgments."  I'm not trying to be rude here, but I'm puzzled.  Please correct me if that assessment is wrong.

A lot of things people read into this are not at all what I intended to say.  I'm really interested in hearing these other interpretations.  I think they will greatly impact my future edits.  

Thank you housepoppy, cauducus, rh, otl, and sexbomb.  
 — jerotich

Heeeeyyyyy. Get out into the sunlight.This poem has me worried
 — larrylark

Well I liked this especially L 1-4
 — Mercedes

quite beautiful, very evocative of a special relationship with a special someone.
 — icepineapple

nope, no special someone.  this poem has nothing to do with romance, though I don't necessarily object to that interpretation.
 — jerotich

very heavy yet tender. i like it, and it is also wrong to ache for death at 15 -speaking of myself here..ahem
 — nomoreink

short yet telling, very well written.
 — themorrigan

Umm, you just posted this as a new poem, changed it up a bit.
I like both. But I like "The Night Before Loss" better.

Are you keeping both?
 — mandolyn

This one is so old, it has a lot of history for me.  The rewrite feels like a fresh effort, so I consider it a second poem.  And I also wanted to gauge which one worked better.

Thanks for noticing, Mandolyn.
 — jerotich

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 — unknown