poetry critical

online poetry workshop

two photographs, taken with the same roll of film,

and developed with different techniques.

I've taken to cold showers lately,
cardboard boxes in Peru;
stumbling alone down steps
of adobe pubs, sobering in
AIDS infected phone booths
and falling again
under splintering sepia bars.
And while I'm not sure if it's the
cheap tequila or the mildewed hotel room
that's making me sick,
I am certain I couldn't drown farther
if I fell into a vat of golden whiskey,
ninety proof.
But you-- you dance the stone streets of Venice,
shout from the tarred rooftops of Versailles,
and cartwheel straight across Rome.
Even hungover, I know it's
something about your smile,
the way you bring a full set of grays to life.
They love you and I cannot blame them.
Once, I saw an aspiring French student
hopelessly trying to capture you in a snapshot,
to trap you in his black and white Paris--
but you were laughing, twirling just beyond
his desperate fingertips, and pulsating
with the silver incandescence that
only surrounds a soft white wine
and someone who could make a photograph dance.

19 Nov 02

Rated 9.5 (7.8) by 4 users.
Active (4): 10, 10
Inactive (98): 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 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, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

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(9 more poems by this author)

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Nice contrast. The first stanza sounds like Ginsberg in India. The second is quite a bit like the way Gibson did Fragments of a Hologram Rose: hell, the whole contrast of it is Fragments-like. Nicely done.
 — Hawksfire

i enjoy it, what can i say. i told you the bit about the bar stool diving, but otherwise great, and better on the second read.
 — unknown

barstools or whiskey glasses? roman fiddles? mulling this over for another day.
 — jade

i enjoyed it.
 — username

lines 18 and 19.

I don't know if it's supposed to be there, but I like the comma at the end of the title.
 — fv2

i should just go anonymous like every other good poet on this site. it's not worth it.
 — unknown

psh... don't let some jackass get you down. you know it's better than a two; you know you can write, some people are just too immature. ignore it and don't let it get you down.

to make up for it, I will give you another 8 under this name (for some reason I was logged in under 'fv2' the last time I rated, which I made and forgot the password of before I started posting, and just now I was able to guess the password right to check it... what's up with 'poetry.tetto.org' and 'tetto.org/poetry' having different cookies?).

actually, hell, I just read it again and liked it even better. 9.
 — semaj

someone gave you a 2? bloody ridiculous. that's why i went anonymous, i mean i still get low ratings but its better, i don't know why really. i think you're a wonderful poet, albeit one that owes me cookies.
 — unknown

i'm pretty sure that's against the rules, semaj, but it's nice of you anyways. if someone honestly thinks it's a two, they're entitled to that, it's just that when i have four eights and then someone comes and gives it a two and doesn't comment at all about why they think so differently, i can only assume it's because someone saw my name on it or they're upset that i'm getting a better rating than them. which is cheap and fustrating.

but thank you both, and as soon as someone gives me their address, perhaps i could go about sending someone their cookie(s) and someone could use the return address to send me my five bucks. eh?
 — unknown

sorry, wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been in the wrong account for some reason. I don't plan on using this knowledge for purposes of evil in the future, anyway (I will not go around giving myself 10s, for instance. hell, I probaly wouldn't even give myself a 10. I'd probably give myself around 7 or 8. I don't think I've written anything 10-worthy yet.)

if there's someone out there with the magical power to remove that other account, I'd accept that. not like I plan on using it anyway. doesn't seem like I can un-rate poems, anyway...

maybe a rule should be instituted saying, 'thou shalt not rate highly-ranked poems with twos without giving an explanation.' seems to be a perpetual source of strife. hrm.
 — semaj

in line seventeen, you should spell it "greys."
 — done

blah, thank you. i once knew a boy with the last name of gray and it's scarred me for life.
 — jade

I disagree with done and prefer 'gray' over 'grey'. However, putting that aside, I adore this poem. I read it over twice, and I'm dumbfounded.
 — abby

after consulting merriam-webster online, i've found that grey is actually the deviation and my years of self abuse and closet love for the "gray" spelling were completely unfounded.
booyah, i was right.
 — jade

This is very nice; lovely contrast, and the last line is phenomenal. Good job.
 — Moose

i really, really like this. a little tightening and you'll be golden
 — unknown

thank you.. but what to tighten?
 — unknown

I don't care for the french, at least not capitalised.
 — duckboy

This is better the twentieth time. GAH you rock.
 — allie

i just read over the chit chat down there...

least. helpful. comments. ever.

thanks guys :P
 — jade

I really enjoyed this; your opening is perfect.
 — bellis

you should rewrite the entire title in the comment if it doesn't fit as a title. the title is so amazing... as is the poem
 — unknown

i tried that just now, putting it all in the title box, but i didn't like it as much. besides, i like random punctuation. the comma's fun on the end of the sentence there. thank you though. :)
 — jade

I think this is your best, you author you. I wasn't so sure for awhile, but the more I read it the more I notice. I think you're right, there's something that still needs work, more or less or something. It's just that inch away from being mind-numbingly, blow your skirt up kind of awesome. The only thing I'm not sure I like is the french in line 17, but I don't know, that might grow on me.

This is just wonderful. Gets better and better. I'm glad it's finally in th top 15.
 — unknown

lines 20 and after are just brilliant
 — Ananke

man, no one likes that french but me. it means "that certain something we can't quite place and definately don't have another word for" so i'm having trouble taking it out. guess i'll have to be a Big Poet and stop telling and start showing. damnit.
 — unknown

hey, the french used to be capitalised, wasn't it?
I actually like the french, though I think it should be capitalised. it's something, which in my mind, should be a thought separated in a way from the rest of the line, to draw attention to it, and capitalisation would do that.

nobody ever seems to like french in poems. I'm not sure why. maybe it's thought to be lazy, but lazy things can also be good if they're done deliberately, and I think this is a case where it works.
 — semaj

This is nice and very romantic.
 — heatherS

I love reversable poems, author is talking in both first and second person. -(un)Shattered
 — unknown

I found this poim as a pleasant suprise... for a while I thought I happened upon one of the most horrid poetry sites in history... to the author... thank you for making this visit a bit enjoyable... on your poim... all in all... a very sound piece... just a few parts I do not particularly like... and no... it is not the French... it is the part about you saying... and I am certain I could not crash harder, crashing into whiskey... yada ya... consider taking out lines 10,11, and 12... although I believe I get where you were directing those lines... they don't do much for the poim in my meager opinion... as well as removing those lines... consider removing the last line... line 27... it as well does not seem to flow well with the rest of the poim... and I feel the poim says enough ending with line 26 (only surrounds a soft white wine.)... I believe if you remove these lines (10,11,12,26) you will find your poim is much more powerful... profound even... give it a quick read to yourself without those lines... you may or may not agree... but it will never hurt to read it without them... if you do not wish to remove them, which you have every right to... I suggest you work on strengthening those lines with revisions... the rest of the poim might be able to be strengthened as well... but do not change the rest much if you decide to rewrite... if anything just tighten what you have here presently... over all your imagery is quite arousing to the mind and dialectic pallet... some very intriguing use of particulars and coincidence, sliding with enough cadence to feel as though the poim is moving to that internal rhythm... I am giving you a 10... though I do not feel the poim is an actual 10... but it deffinitly deserves a higher spot on the list than it's present position at number 8. It is an atrocity... the way some of these poims get into the top 15 list... this is my second visit here... and all and all I am not much interested in coming back... however... thank you for posting this poim... I was delighted to find it, and glad I happened through. Damn fine job... pending minor revision... keep up the good work. (F.P.)
 — FP

I am quite fond of the first stanza, especially the first and last 3 lines. However I do object to the use of "AIDS infected" on line 4.
 — nzkiwi

 — unknown

why do you object? it's a reference to an urban legend.
 — jade

that's beautiful!!! I especially liked lines : 1, 2, 8, 13, 14, 15, and 22-27 lol
 — to-fly

It flows very well, got a sweet conversational tone about it.
 — sarahnade

Terrific. I really enjoy it. It's sparse and somehwat detached but still passionate. I like it a lot. Keep up the good work. :)
 — Typhoon921

The imagery in this poem is extremely commendable and I really enjoyed it.
 — Dreamer

I enjoy the filtered focus of this poem. It transports me to these places. The second half's playfulness is delightful. The contrast is enlightening.
 — Duende

Has a vintage feel...good job, makes me want to up and go traveling? Care to go to Venice someday?
 — SeraphSoul

hon, you know i'm there the second you tell me you have your ticket.
 — jade

Lovely, traveling with you would be uber-fun as the young'uns say.
 — SeraphSoul

Well done. An adventure that I can see and probably did...once.
 — tinkerman

Wow, so much imagery here I feel like I'm right in the heart of the action which is fab. I totally adore this.
 — unknown

Ahh, I looove line 19, and really lines 22 to the end! It's so rich ^_^
 — Paprika

i can't say anything about this poem that hasn't already been said.

it's compelling. it's elegant.
 — mousestmod

Personally, this poem depressed me, and made me think of horrible times drenched with much shame and sorrow..,

...so of course I loved it...

....but I would have loved it more, if it had been written by a robot...

do you think you could be a robot next time?
 — onklcrispy

I'm not too fond of the use of "AIDS infected" either, I feel that it could have been phrased a little...well, nicer. But maybe that's just me, I don't know. Infected sounds like an almost derogatory term. I know AIDS is one of those illnesses that freaks people out, but all the same, some people cannot help it. I just feel that if there is a better way to say something (which in this case, there is), then use the better phrasing.

Other than that, I enjoyed this poem. Good job.
 — writing

I would have to second FP's view on lines 11-13. The image that they elicit I don't think provides the meaning you were looking for, or at least my interpretation of the crashing--it's either falling or a hangover, but only falling works with the image. Falling into a vat of liquid can be hard, but, to me, it seems more soft than anything. Otherwise, an excellent poem, especially with the selected locations mentioned--Versailles, Venice--exotic, historical. They really do remind me of a photograph, which adds greatly to my reading. Nice. (but it isn't a throw rug of anagrams ::cough::cough::)
 — satired

To me, very colorful. Reality is what I like and to what you wrote, it is not for someones entertainment. This looks like someting I see on Venice Beach, and it real. Bravo!
 — urbansong

i just want to say i feel like i could plotz.
 — SeraphSoul

whatsa plotz?
 — jade

think it means 'to vomit' in hebrew, but I know that I'm probably wrong.
 — SeraphSoul

ouch. what made you vomit?
 — jade

well i didn't, i just said that i felt like i could. :/
but everythings better now.
 — SeraphSoul

is it too late to comment??
bah! what the hell..

i love this poem.. its deeply romantic and the images seem to swirl you around into a mix of dizy, high, sad-happy emotions. its beautiful
 — ari

Couldn't people just dislike your poem? Is getting four 8's a hard & fast rule for success? It's an arbitrary system anyway.
 — unknown

they're more than entited to dislike it. to re-articulate what i said, if four people, and unforunately, four people is a lot of people to rate on this site, but if four peopel say they like something, and then one person really really really hates it, i'd like to hear what it is that makes their opinion so different. conversely, if there's a poem on this site that is so awful that it gets three ratings of 3s and someone walks by and gives it a 9, they almost certainly will sit down and type out what they saw that everyone else didn't and explain why they think it's great and they're wrong. in short, i don't want everyone to like my stuff, it's great if people hate my stuff, because i want comments.
 — jade

You make me want to pack a bag, travel to some unknown village, drenched in sunlight, hidden in shadows, be both the dancer and the watcher.
 — hatsoff

*tear* quite beautiful indeed.
 — BlueNymph

dear jade
it sucks and i hate it.
 — thinknerd

dear thinknerd:
obviously your dislike of my poem is a personal attack. i hate you and may all your future children be pigeon toed and crosseyed. twice.
 — jade

jade -
yeah, and ill enjoy it, too.
 — thinknerd

you would.
 — jade

dear jade and thinknerd,
you are both silly and immature,
your mothers were hamsters and your fathers smell of elderberries.

 — unknown

the above was me,

 — SeraphSoul

Like fire, I descend upon the unwary. And then I was here.
 — JimBert

hell, the lad is a poet in just his comments! *applauds*
 — SeraphSoul

*sigh* ah, gay paris...i hope you didn't make it to venice alone.
 — unknown

make it to venice i have not. but once i do, the whole city will be with me, from rooftop to rooftop.
 — jade

The last line of this poem is really, really good.
I approve.
 — unknown

uh oh...
 — thinknerd

(uh oh)^2.
- jade
 — unknown

 — thinknerd

 — joshodile

 — unknown

yeah, i know what you mean.
 — jade

i'm lost....
 — SeraphSoul

Wonder how I've missed this for so long. It's intriguing that there is always a person who draws others to her/him, without knowing what it is. And there are those of us who see it and wish for it but can't manufacture it. Well done in capturing that feeling here. I love the image of the French cameraman trying so hard to capture what can't be caught. And I like the way you stated that this woman brings a full set of grays. That's a wonderful way to say she has no black and white sharp edges to her life.
 — Isabelle5

fv2, I might be wrong, but I think the title's meant to be two lines.

jade, I love it.

Love it, love it.
 — unknown

i don't know why i never commented on this before. it reminds me of some cartoons done by an australian guy named leunig. i won't go further in explanation, except to say that the contrast here is fantastic, and the emotion both poignant and visceral. i love this.
 — root

i love leunig
and i heart you for knowing who he is
 — unknown

i don't mean to be a jerk after my last comment, but i just noticed that you mispelled desperate. wouldn't it be funny if i mispelled mispelled? i never could remember how to spell it. anyway, the point is, it might distract somone from an otherwise great poem.
 — root

Didn't even bother to read past the first few lines because i was DISGUSTED with the inaccuracy of you saying: "an AIDS infected phone booth".
This kind of thing is EXACTLY what causes fear and ignorance to proliferate our society. You CANNOT get AIDS from casual contact. In fact, you cannot get AIDS until you have been first infected with HIV. Oh and you can't get HIV from a phone booth. Do your math before you put it on the chalkboard!!!!!!!!!
 — aforbing

Wow I love the way lines 21-28 punched their way tho the surface of a muddle and I woul give it an definate 8.9
 — unknown

I thought your work was great. I'm inspired now. Thanks.
 — Jsmiles05

Jade's great at doin' that inspiring thing. :)
 — SeraphSoul

dammit. i had written a lovely long rant about how no shit you can't get aids that way and it's an urban legend reference and he should do a little math before running his small brain and big mouth, but some how it didn't get posted. bah.
 — jade

and thanks, seraph and jsmiles and everyone
 — jade

wow this gave me goosebumps like romantic wishes. i wish someone wrote this for me.
 — clodclod

Wow! First time I've read this--I wasn't using the site when it came out. This is very deserving of its praise and analysis. Wonderful idea, nicely told. rob
 — unknown


 — Minx

tequila, not tequilla. other than that VERY small spelling mistake, you did well. nice poem

my goodness why can i not ever spell.
 — jade

i really like lines 17-20.
 — 8Gj00

love the last line.
 — 8star83

I love this poem, I really really love it. It's like every ew stanza...no, line, has a life of it own. You could do this without making the verses jagged, good for you. However, I know I'm probably the only person out there who thinks this, but the title doesn't seem to fit with the style of the poem...sounded like you were trying to hard to put meaning into the title and it got lost along the way. The entire poem however was interesting and powerful. GREAT job.
 — unknown

Pff. I love the title. One of the best things about this wonderful piece. Interesting that you used the phrase "verses jagged," though because even though this is one of my highest ratings on the site (it earned that elusive 9), it took me forever to read it, even after seeing it every day stuck up there at the top of the Top Rated. Even now, when I click back at the poem, just looking at it, the shape on the page, something just repells me. This might not make sense at all -- because I love the poem when I read it, love the line breaks, am not someone who usually makes a big deal about the "shape" on the page or cares about such things, but something about this is just very very jagged.
 — unknown

Have nothing more to say than I love it!
 — Dinky

i'm still at a complete loss as to how this has some low markings
i've just bumped it up with one of my rare ratings
hun, this is the best piece I've read on this site, perhaps ever
applauds (quitely as people at work will think I'm weird)
 — Minx

it's awesome!...that's the best way i could put it.
 — mylastbreath

 — keikeila

thanks to the commentors i haven't thanked yet.

as for line breaks, i've always focused much more on the rhythm and where in the line they end up, and ignored the aesthetics and/or syllables of it. which i understand is importante too. i think that ironing out the jaggedness will be really difficult.
 — jade

this is really nice hey, and i love leunig. hes an awesome cartoonist. yeah, the AIDS thing threw me. just that even with all the crap of the first stanza, it was still somehow kinda nice, then AIDS and all kinda went reality..i dunno. this is good though. pisses me off when people leave crap ratings and dont say why, so u cant even try to change it.
 — wendz

Yes, good contrast. I'd like to see it a little more fragmented actually. Seems like there are a lot of words to make it proper English that don't add to it. Maybe some "the"s and some "and"s that could come out. Otherwise it's nice. It just feels a little more like a story, a little less like a poem.
 — Greg

This is great .Creates fantastic pictures in the head and a flows like a really good dancer.Its the sort of poem that stas in the mind for a long time
 — larrylark

i must say, i am one to put down those with imagery that doesn't seem to make sense at first.  your imagery did not make sense at first yet, i still came away liking it.  it is rare for me.  
 — meghanmidget

 — unknown

good stuff. the snapshots of your travels flutter through my experience with your two stanzas here. I'm also left wondering if perhaps the "I" and the "you" are the same person?
 — jak

I've always loved this poem, but just now am I writing a comment. I love lines 23 and 5. Good show.
 — Charlie

i love this
 — upto_ourhips

jak- poems don't have simple answers, but the yous and i's are both me to an extent, and neither me. i can't wait until the day i leave the US and travel the world.
 — jade

Oh wow. The photograph imagery is priceless and perfect.
It's almost like they are two different poems. But I suppose that is the point, since it's about the contrast, right?
 — silentscream

Hmm. I was just reading the comments about the French in the poem. I like it. It keeps up with the exotic feel of the people and places.  It also puts a distinct image in my mind, in a good way. Artistic and free-spirited.
 — silentscream

your spelling mistake still hasn't changed. TEQUILA!!!

take out one of the l's. i can't remember how long ago it was that i left that comment.

this is a beautifully composed poem. the first stanza made me miss peru so much! I love it there! to be fair, your portrayal did not do it justice, but thats what it is. nice work!
 — ElegantWaste

I still say,...sappy bastard!
 — unknown

wow. love this poem. my words for it simply cannot be uttered..... great :-D
 — lin12342

This is so good.  I can see what you're talking about in this poem.  So often, it's hard to make writing clear enough for a large audience.
 — chevolleau

poetic perfection
 — unknown

beautiful poem, and i personally like the french. if you like it keep it, its your poem after all.
 — Faulk

moving poem. the particular contrast between the two stanzas is achieved vividly. the first stanza appears to be a view or 'photograph' the author/reader has of their paritcular self pitying state compared to when compared to someone they love, who seems to have all the flair and answers, and seem to be going places - hence the seceond photograph is a portrayal. though it seems to me the mind of the one portrayed has a more beautiful mind. 'but you -' for me is not the most beautiful line, but definitely one of teh most defining
 — unknown

Has a nice simplicity I like
 — Andrew

whats a sepia bar?
 — unknown

it was wonderfull i did enjoy it

 — unknown

responses, in no particular order:

I like the idea of the French too. That's why my second character is portrayed there.

I've never been to Peru or to Europe, so I apologize if I've misconstrued one. Especially Peru-- I'm playing off of the stereotype of the romanic European cities, so that's supposed to be like that, but I don't want to make Peru sound unjustly awful.

Bah, I changed the tequila thing once; I must have accidentally edited an old version and lost it in the copy and paste.

The sepia bar is the counter in the pub, sepia colored.

unknown, I like your interpretation of the pitying self v. someone the narrator cares about. It's pretty close to what I was going for on the superficial level.

It's nice to come back after such a long absence and see I'm still getting so many comments. Thank you.
 — jade

WHOA.  Right the fuck on.
 — themolly

Awesome poem..Its good to read entertaining poetry..(entertaining to me at least)
 — crazy

It was an interesting and entertaining read. I enjoyed it.
 — Subtle

 — Estrella

 — Erowen

incredible. i get blown away every time i come back and raed this.
 — mould_jesus


AIDS-infected phone booth elicits so much.

Perhaps someone has asked this already, but did you write this with someone in mind?  What was the inspiration?
 — root

no one particular. i read too much as a child, and there are influences of the overly idealized person i wanted to be in there. really, we've all met people who embodied pieces of this, and this was me combining those pieces.

oddly enough, i don't think i could love this person if i were to meet her now. i've met too many people who were like her, or worse, wanted to be like her. maybe that means a photograph is an especially ept analogy, then-- something that can be taken a frame at a time, but doesn't hold up as a movie or a human life. please don't let this last paragraph affect your reading of it, though. it wasn't what i intended at all when i wrote it, i don't think. i'm inspired to make some edits, though. thank you for asking.
 — jade

beautiful poem.

wonder if you would consider, still, so long after having written it and writing it off
to put a semi colon at the end of line 19?

thanks. thanks for writing.
 — varun

This is one of the few poems on this site I think I might come back to, and I see your point about the semi. I will think about it. Thanks for the comments and complements.
 — jade

This is definitely one of my favorite poems, i cant really say anything bad about it. I admire the wording you used throughout.
 — MrFetus

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