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Now edited!

My hands were small and
held no stalk of grass or
candied apple; I reached for things
other children did not want.
In a dress my mother made me--
pink checkers parcelled me within their
perimeters, I believed I was sick.
This illness: it could be caught
though not shaken off. It begat
the dead skin of lace showing beneath
my dress's plaited rim and leather shoes
as black and hard as bruises.
Altar to God, and antenna,
a large red bow as superfluous as
a tumor floppily died on the back of
my dry scalp. The children saw this
and pointed or laughed
or sometimes both and I felt a hatred
for them. At 7 I concocted childish
revenge fantasies involving pencils,
erasers, crayons. My sorrow was as steely-eyed
as lead, though now on paper,
I find it cannot be erased.
It began as a prick--of hatred, or something--
then a cut.
Then the blood pooled, and I felt great
sorrow for the state of the world;
my heart, a heavy canteen of collected tears.
Eight years old and passing through
a small universe of blighted stars,
the fairground, at closing,
at night.

27 Sep 03

Rated 8 (7.2) by 1 users.
Active (1): 7, 9
Inactive (28): 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

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I like it.
 — unknown

:( this poem made me sad!!!
 — unknown

me too. haha
 — unknown

 — unknown

comments please? thanx

 — unknown

This will take two or three more readings before I can comment. I'll try to get to it tonight. rob
 — unknown

Uh, we should bring in some help here. root, help!!

I'll read a couple more times before I comment. I'm still confused. I like a lot of the content, but I still need to sort out some things...
 — rob

what are you confused about, perhaps i can clear it up
 — unknown

ne further comments before i take th is down?

 — unknown

Yes, I'm still confused regarding the second female character vs. the narrator.

Why take it down? Please leave it up!
 — unknown

they were meant to be the same person, the I being the female character reflecting on her youth, and the third-person reflecting a more objective view of the character's still-terrible past.

 — unknown

thanks that helps
 — unknown

I thought so, but I wanted to ask before assuming that. Please leave this up.

 — rob

i am sad that this poem got no real comments!
 — unknown

This is good.
 — unknown

rob. could u comment??
 — unknown

 — unknown

This is very well written and has an interesting idea at its core. Some of the evocations and descriptions work very well - I like the way you build up the atmosphere from mildly unnerving to chilling and sorrowful. I@m not sure abot the quatrains, (though now you're committed to them, I see it would be hard to change them). I looked at this poem several times and couldn't get past the first 2 or 3 stanzas, but I'm glad I did - though painful, it tries to come to terms with a lot that is difficult or unspoken. The girl is a bit worrisome - is it 2 aspects of the 'i' voice in the poem or 2 different people - may be just a little more clarity in some places, but a very honest, raw but refined and at times, moving piece.

 — unknown

Just read your comments above properly and understand now - though I think this confusion for the reader could still be a slight issue, please excuse terrible spelling etc; above - had just woken up!
Lacking even wherewithal to log on properly!

 — unknown

Sorry, unknown. I've been a little busy. Susanna summed it up well. LOTS of strong feelings in it. The fact that we had to read it so many times and were confused about your character and the second young girl is both good and bad. You have built in some ambiguity and room for interpretation, which is good, but if you totally confuse your reader, you won't get anywhere. Tip: If you are going to leave room for interpretation, write it so that various interpretations all make sense--and are not confusing. Easy to say, hard to do. In other words, create non-confusing worlds for them within the poem.

I love the passion in your work. Keep writing about it and keep working on your skills. Sorry for my belated response, and please keep this here. I really like it.

 — unknown

And, whoever you are, unknown, don't be scared to write under your screenname. You have a skill for this. rob
 — unknown

I wrote it. Was this really any surprise?
 — ersaph

I guess I haven't been on the site long enough to know, Ersaph, but you surprised me. This seemed to me more elemental and unrefined than your other (recent) work with which I am familiar. But good work always shows itself to be just that, doesn't it? Was I totally off-base about the confusion angle? What were you doing there?
 — rob

Clarification...I don't mean "unrefined" to mean it wasn't well-written, it obviously was. I just got the sense this was a younger/newer poet with tremendous talent, without the conventions to hold him/her to any preconceived notions. Do you know what I mean? rob
 — rob

Ha ha, yes. Actually, I felt this poem had an almost uncharacteristic seriousness/sincereness (as compared to some of my others, which are more just there for me), thus I published it anonymously. You know, to give it a real chance, decontextualized from the persona I have established for myself here.
 — unknown

Just looked back through your work that preceded my entry to the site, ersaph. I have a much better perspective now. I can see some of this poem in your earlier works, but it is somewhat different. It is sincere in a way, yes. However it has a quality--I just need to find the words--a youthful innocence that I really loved. That is what attracted me to it so much--besides the fact that I knew there was more meaning in it than I was able to glean.

This is why we need you here. rob
 — unknown

Really nicely written, great images - very vivid. Unlike some other commentators, I don't have a problem with the first person/third person alterations, I was pretty sure it was the same person seen from different perspectives.

I like the way it moves from quite physical/literal into the metaphorical with the gera shift at the end.

Very impressive work all round. Missing the word 'was' on line 71 though!

 — unknown

This poem came up, random on the first page and captured me completely. So much so that I'm going to go a little nuts with critique. I hope this doesn't offend.

Line 13: alter (s/b altar?) to God, and (s/b an?) antenna
Line 19: you write 7, line 29 you write eight -- s/ consistent
Line 71: missing was

Those were the only technical things -

The title fits, but doesn't do the work justice. You should reconsider it.

Your line breaks need some crafting. Please forgive - I don't mean to offend, but for your consideration:

My hands were small and held
no stalk of grass or candied apple;
I reached for things
other children did not want.

In a dress my mother made me -
pink checkers parcelled me
within their perimeters, I believed I was sick.
This illness: it could be caught

Also, since you use 2 personas, you might want
to keep the language working for you - where
it is the child speaking, keep her thinking and
speaking in that wise. For example:

I sat on a sea of trash 41
and prickly hay. Legs, taller than I 42
marched passed me like 43
choreographed monsters. 44 <-- I would simplify the picture.

The word 'begat' is archaic -

emerged; were they--? 51
It was like...mating? Love (she's 8? does she think mating? she would think love.)

Line 70: She said they were not as good as the light
A suggestion - she knew they were..., and have the other children somehow push her into the shadows or from their light - just to punch the parallel.

That's it - rather, that's enough! I LOVE this poem. Truly.
 — ka

to the poem -> Oh MY God
to you -> tag your it, sorry it took so long, what's it been six years?
to me -> you
don't keep me waiting
 — kronah

btw happy birthday
 — kronah

deep. . .perfect. . .needs no improvement except for maybe a bit of clarity. . .i give it a 10
 — KLaBerge

Quite beautiful; far above the rest of your work posted on this site (although I like "Whales" a lot, too). The use of "you" in a lot of your other poems tends to alienate me and perhaps is characteristic of a kind of urgency you have for expression (which is a good trait, perhaps), but may be leading you to "tell" the reader and not "show" them. This poem is lovely because it invites the reader in without offering judgement. I encourage you to develop this perspective, and also to develop the idea of a "why" inside your poems. I like "whales" also, because in this poem too I see you confronting something larger than yourself, and I love that sense of questioning. Joyce wrote about static and kinetic art: static art stops you, is a thing in itself, you have to confront it. Kinetic art tries to move you, like a political advertisement, like pornography. Make your poetry static!

BTW I had little trouble understanding anything in the poem; the syntax takes time and concentration but I don't think there are any worrisome ambiguities.
 — eajohnson1

i don't get it at all
 — asalways

Nothing much to get.
 — ersaph

This is really well written. I found it very effective, and it made me sad. Keep writing
 — azalea

kinda weird... will need to reread
 — unknown

line 26 and 27 is very clever.  i like how you put detail into the whole thing.  i wouldn't us at twic on lines 31 and 32 though, it sounds redundant.
 — sassybnyss

Man this stuff is amazing. I love the structure and the double perspective. I wish I could use both of those half as well as this. I can't really say much that hasn't been said already, just wanted to say it's a great poem. *thumbs up*
 — soda482

I know I commented on this before, though damned if I can find it. I hope this makes it to #1.
 — FangzOfFire

Do you mean altar in l13? I liked this, especially l28. The tone is beautiful. The title however, fails to live up to the poem.
 — wendz

This is excelent.....
 — silly

you fucking faggot this poem sucked!
 — unknown

This poem is written by a figgot
 — ersaph

This poem is too complicated.  
 — unknown

Yeah it is
 — ersaph

It's all quite jumbled together, but it's nice...I like it alot.
 — acoustic9

the ending is fucking fantastic.
 — done

this is good. i like the last stanza.

This poem was a lark to write--I just wanted to use the blighted stars line, which I stole from "Tess of the D'urbervilles." It was well-liked, strangely. I'm always staggered when people actually like my work because most of it as its impetus as a sick joke, anyway.
 — ersaph

This is pretty decent. I like the last stanza the best. It made me think of a kid coloring.
 — InMyBlood

L3/13/20 are immaculte. The ending upon a once readover was limp but after spending time on this its clear and beautiful.
 — Caducus

why is this cut this way
and not as it should be intonated
by what punctuation
isn't completely missing?

why is the title so unimaginative?

this has great images.
stronger at last
than at first

this cut
"Then the blood pooled, and I felt great  26
sorrow for the state of the world" 27
is very good to(o)
use as a benchmark
do you see?

 — kaleidazcope

almost there
and hear your own voice
more clearly
 — noodleman

 — unknown

completely awesome.  it sounds familiar :p
 — Angelfire

much better!

 — unknown

gosh, this is beautiful!

that's it.
 — noodleman

i like this alot
 — tragicbubble

I love your words and imagery but your premise .. I don't know. What I got was like they made fun of your bow and it ruined you for life. I had some serious thoughts as a child- I made my parents adopt a Sri-Lanken girl through a charity program when I was 6  but I still had a happy life- I dont know, it seems there should be more to your past, something tragic. I think I wish I read it before it was edited.
 — Cloudless

Something tells me, "here is great talent with wonderful things to tell the world," but it is wrapped up in itself and brooding. You are good at this, -you've been a caterpillar long enough, its time to speak of universal stuff.
 — cowork

 — housepoppy

yeah ersaph is like that. 25 28 blow you away.

 — unknown

ersaph, you are a sick joke. But you write bloody good poetry.
 — unknown

I love this, ersaph. I really do.
 — wendz

ersaph i love you
 — Ananke

This is a spectacular poem.  A few critiques and comments, but none worth losing sleep over:
it has a strong beginning.  I love lines 11 and 12 with all my heart.  The beginning is strong but I feel that the middle could be more compact.  In line 19, spell out the word seven (all numbers up to ten should follow this rule).  I adore the metaphor in line 28.  You are clearly a very gifted writer.  I'd kill for talent like this.
 — OwlGirl

Still catches my breath.
 — Ananke

i think the last line would read better 'the fairground, closing, at night'

i like this one.
 — mandolyn