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online poetry workshop



Pilot Light
starr

My mother
 1
would wait up for me
 2
over a cup of coffee
 3
in the kitchen
 4
at the table
 5
with the light off.
 6
 
 
Her seated summer silhouette
 7
covering mine
 8
until I closed the door on the way in-
 9
All the other rooms slept.
 10
 
 
She lit cigarette after cigarette
 11
off the stove,
 12
the shadow of my face
 13
in pilot light
 14
covering hers completely
 15
in the miserable marriage
 16
of silence and early mourning-
 17
 
 
Darkness never
 18
felt so good.
 19

For my mother, Pauline, with love.  

26 Apr 11

Rated 8 (7.9) by 5 users.
Active (5): 1, 5, 10
Inactive (51): 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 8, 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, 10, 10, 10, 10

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(229 more poems by this author)

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Comments:

Starr, you're the best of all of us, and I don't just mean the poems.
 — Empty

Awwww!  I love you TOO, Empty!  Thanks!  :-)
 — starr

This is deep and so perfectly captured and relatable.  
 — unknown

Thanks, TOO, unk.!  Glad u like it!  :-)
 — starr

i think this is my favorite by you
 — mandolyn

Incredible work starr! The atmosphere is palpible. SO well done.
 — Known

This is Faaantastic!  i love the double meaning of 'mourning' in L18.  Nice work.
 — PaulS

Wow, starr! I never would have guessed this was yours.  You hit a home run with this one my friend.
 — PaulS

Re-reading this. I really like it. I'm thinking over the last word. Did it say 'cold' before? It seems like a hard fit and hard find, for the right word there, but maybe not. Maybe you've found the right word. What are you thinking about it?
 — Empty

OMG!  I just got all these beautiful words from y'all and they made me feel all warm and fuzzy!!!  Thanks!  To answer your question, Empty, it DID SAY "cold" originally and I think I'm gonna go back 2 it.  "Bold" just describes his personality (and it's not a good thing either.  He ends up making himself look like a fool most of the time.)  He'll usually say the most offensive things to people just to get a reaction/approval.  Strange man.  Glad I'm nothin' like him.  I got my mother's personality instead.  So...that's why "bold," but I think "COLD" would be the better adjective.  What CHOO think?  I'll be back in the a.m.  around 11:00 EST.  Thanks again, everyone 4 the love and the props to my writing!  I appreciate DATT back.  :-) xo
 — starr

My father always wore a lotta gold too (chains and all that tacky 80's status quo shit), plus the gold could pertain to him being seen in the pilot light I write about.  Am I straying now from this?  I'm confused.  Cold or in gold?  Anxious 2 see what y'all say.  Thanks!  Nite.  :-)
 — starr

starr, the original title was better imo...
 — Known

Hey, Known.  :-)  The original title was without the preposition "in."  Or was there another title earlier that I'm forgetting I used?  Could BE.  Long day.  :-O
 — starr

Or do u mean "cold" instead of "in gold?"  
 — starr

I went back to the original everything.  "Pilot Light" title and "cold" in L21.  Beddy-bye.  Nite nite, Poetry peeps.  xo
 — starr

Starr, I think cold might be better. Cold seems to get the point across better maybe. I don't know, it's good either way. You know, my father is 'cold' and 'bold' also, and I feel like I can relate to what you're saying in the poem. I'm feeling bad for Pauline, the whole thing. I appreciate reading this. And I appreciate you.
 — unknown

^forgot to sign in
 — Empty

Awwww...you're so sweet.  Thanks, Empty.  :o)  He put my mother through hell just with his coldness and boldness alone.  I remember her tellin' us kids (me and my two sisters ("I should left him when you were six, but I didn't want you kids growing up in a broken home.")  I replied, "Mom...we alREADY grew up in a broken home."  I mean, seriously.  Kids aren't stupid.  They can tell when their parents aren't happy, but 26 years?  I woulda dumped his ass after the first five.  :-)  
 — starr

:( Yes, I think a broken home is preferable to a toxic one any day. I have two sisters also. My parents were married for 24 years, and when they finally divorced my mom asked me if I was sad. Sad? I said. I have been hoping you two would divorce my entire life.
 — Empty

Achingly eloquent.  Will be back to comment further when I have more time and less granddaughter tearin' up the house!
 — sybarite

I feel ya, Empty.  Broken vs. toxic ANY day.  I remember on their 25th Anniversary, waking up and coming downstairs to the kitchen.  I went about my usual morning routine w/o saying much and my mother asks, "Aren't you going to wish me a Happy Anniversary?" in a really bitchy tone.  I replied, "If you had anything to be happy about, maybe I would."  I got the SLAP of a lifetime for THAT one.  LOL!  Years later, she apologized for that and told me I was right.  Like I tell everyone, "I'm a happy dude, but I'm also the product of misery."  Thanks 4 sharing too!  And Syb...thanks for YOUR kind words!  I'll c-ya later when you're freer.  :-)  xo  
 — starr

I love this!! I too have a father that acts like this. Your mother must be very proud. well done! Surely one of the best poems I can relate to!
 — Bookworm

Thanks, Bookworm!  Glad u can relate to this!  Yup.  He's a REAL piece of work.  I pity the woman he married after he divored by mother in 1988.  They've been married for 16 years now and he's STILL the same.  What'cha gonna DO, right?  :-)
 — starr

You have brought this moment alive with multi-textured emotion.
It runs deep in its silence.
 — Io

Enjoyable and compact and I'm glad the jealous 4 did not knock it out of the top rated as they've done with some of mine - so a 10 - mitch :-)
 — pdemitchell

Thanks, Io and Mitch, and Mitch, I hear ya on THAT.  Must suck when your only beacon in life is a #1 Top Rated poem.  I mean, it's sweet; don't get me wrong, but my life doesn't depend upon it.  Not 2 mention how "crooked" the rating system tends to be here ANYWAY, but hey...that's on them.  It's babyshit.  Thanks for the sweet words, you guyz.  :-)
 — starr

achingly beautiful.
i am seriously mesmerized by how you perfectly laid down the picture
of what is happening in your home with simple words.
 — suedehead

suedehead, thank you for your sweet words and I'm so glad that this poem touches you.  Nice way to start my day!  Take care.  :-) xo
 — starr

you have a natural born talent of poetry i love it
 — makayla

Hi, Makayla!  Thank you for the kind words and I'm so glad that this poem speaks to you!  I'm honored by your compliment!  xo  
 — starr

i love your poem Starr.  my fave was 'light a cigarette off the stove'
yes, could see that with my very eyes.

only think i'd suggest is axing the time ref.  '1 a.m'
kwim?

love ya, poetdawg
xo
 — jenakajoffer

Thanks, Jen!  It's obvious that it's nighttime in this poem!  I'm glad u like it and I love u2!!!  xo
 — starr

this spam needs to stop!

now to the poem...

great image. it describes to me perfectly a short scene. maybe 20-30 seconds worth of movement.

but i can see it in my head so clearly. good write
 — mould_jesus

Thanks, mould_jesus!  Glad u enjoyed it!  That's what I usually try to do when writing a poem; create a scene that is both visual and relatable.  I'm happy you could identify with it.  :-)
 — starr

a poignant fragment from your life making dark shadows have many reflections ... nicely done stRRyman
 — AlchemiA

Haha Starr I know exactly what you mean. my fathers a grown man and i still have to babysit him. Yet im only 14 lol! :)
 — Bookworm

Thanks, Alch. and Bookworm!  There's an old saying that goes like this:  "What do you do when your parents refuse to grow up?"  Hmmmm...'nuff said?  xo
 — starr

I've read this a number of times and find it heartbreaking and too familiar.  What is with our parents?  They seem a generation dedicated to personal misery and marriages kept for 'the sake of the children" even after the children are long grown.  A poignant write Starr.  Love 12-16.  Much more being said there than what's being said.
 — sybarite

this is good, straightforward and gut worthy
 — antipoetry

Thanks, syb and antipoetry!  Glad u guyz can relate to this.  It's sad...I remember a time when my mother told me that she "would have left him a long time ago, but that she didn't want us growing up in a broken home."  I replied, "We DID grow up in a broken home."  We probably would have been better off in foster care than having to have endured their 26 year miserable marriage.  :-O  xo
 — starr

but look what kind of art came from that pain starr. you have a heart of gold and a talent to match.
 — antipoetry

Awww...you're so sweet, a.p.   Thanks.  Like I tell people, I'm a happy guy, but I'm a "product of misery."  xo!  :-)
 — starr

Hi starr - seen you picked up a 1 and a 2 to go with the 4! So much for ratings.... Mitch :=)
 — pdemitchell

I love numbers, "mitch," so pickin' up 2's 'n 4's are kinda cool.  Ratings on P.C. are only good until the shitbags show up.  I believe in karma anyway, so they'll be discredited somehow by some force sometime down the road.  What u put out is what u get back.  It's the Universal Law.  I don't sweat assholes.  They gotta sweat ME, cuz I'm smart and I'm pretty.  :-)
 — starr

this has a lotta heart
 — Hesher

Thanks, hesher.  Glad it reaches you!  :-)  
 — starr

wonderful rendition. so sad:(((((((((((( thanks F
 — unknown

Thanks 4 the visit, unk.  Yep.  Sad for all parties involved; the parents AND the children.  More so the children.  They suffer TOO.  I'm glad they split when they did.  It should have happened 25 years before their 25th wedding anniversary.  :-O
 — starr

I am happy to see this beautiful poem back on the top of the boards.
 — Io

Thanks, Io!  I'm honored that u like this poem so much!  :-)
 — starr

beautifully crafted
 — dia

Thanks, dia!  Glad u like it!  :-)
 — starr

Ace words, i can see the shadows and hear the sounds when reading this, excellent.
 — stan

Thanks, Stan!  Appreciate the read and the awesome comments!  :-)
 — starr

You've done an excellent picture of painting this quiet, somber scene.  
 — mtharp

Meant to say you've done an excellent job.  :-/
 — mtharp

Thanks, mt!  LIVING it was a whole 'notha story.  Let me TELL ya!  LOL!  Glad u like it!  :-)
 — starr

You never let me down, old Starr, you :)
 — aurelius

Awwww....aurelius!  xoxoxo!  Good 2 see you still hangin' around here!  And I'm glad you like my "Pilot Light!"  :-)
 — starr

Very nice.
 — Greybird

lovely poem. thanks. F
 — unknown

absolutely perfect. i don't even know what that means except that i can't stop re-reading it. i truly envy your elegant way of wording words
 — dvdsxr

Thanks Greybird, F and dvdsxr!  Glad u like!  I'm sure the anonymous spammer is having a blast manipulating the Top Rated lists but eventually, he or she will be caught.  In the meantime, it's MORE exposure for my poems and they enjoy being read.  :-)
 — starr

you're a faker, bauer. starr sees right through you.
 — unknown

Introducing the father at the end really loses the intimacy of the mother/son. He's asleep, he doesnt belong in this poem.

Why is he cold? She should be cold, angry, waiting. This is her poem.
 — turboswami

doesn't it contrast and create a mode and image for the poet's voice? in fact, no poem should ever be read only once, so your comment is pretty much a beginner's.
 — trashpoodle

turboswami, thank you for the visit.  This poem deals with three people in each other's individual shadows.  The shadow of my father is juxtaposed by the realization on my mother's part that the marriage between my two parents is not a happy union.  :-)
 — starr

:(

very evocative. thanks. F
 — unknown

Thanks, F.  Glad u could relate to it.  :-)  
 — starr

b e a u t i f u l
 — 9

YOU'RE beautiful, 9.  Glad u like it.  :-)
 — starr

this is wonderful. feels like cold and dusty memories. mood well set.
 — mould_jesus

Thanks, mould!  I'm glad u like it!  It's just a little "dusty" memory from young adulthood.  Happy Holidays, buddy!  :-)
 — starr

nice
 — unknown

best
 — unknown

Thanks, unk.  Glad u like.  :-)
 — starr

I felt that you caught the atmosphere of the woman whose comfort in an empty marriage was her daughter very well.  A simple not extraordinary situation caught in a simple but not mundane style.
 — Gilly

LOL!  What daughter?  There's no mention of a daughter in this poem, Gilly.  I'm my mother's SON, not her daughter.  :-)
 — starr

The ending that portrays modern times does not say very much.  I love that you can love your mother as she was and as she is in present times, but, "my mother would wait up for me"?  

The poem seems to me like your mother is dying and you are watching with an avid camera.
 — percocet

seems to us, percocet, you sound an awful lot like bauer
 — unknown

There are some oddities of syntax which stand out immediately to me.

The tense shift 'She greets' didn't make sense in my mind, and feels as though there is a part of the narrative that's been left out.

Use of plain language was effective for this piece.
 — jArE_hAwK

Thanks 4 the read, jarehawk.  I switched the last line tense from present tense to preterite.  :-)
 — starr

Scratch that.  I went from preterite to condtional.  Now the tenses agree throughout.  :-)
 — starr

Everybody loves their mother - some mothers stay up later than others, and some mothers love their brothers.  The poem indebted to your mother is all about yourself.
 — percocet

I won't even argue with your senseless points.  Only I know why I wrote this poem and to whom it's indebted.  You're a reader only.  You can interpret it any way you'd like.  Your interpretation is off sadly.  :-)
 — starr

The context of the poem revolves around what your mother does in your presence.  All that I am trying to say is that you should indebt this poem to your mother by writing about what your mother has done without you.  You understand your mother as a child does.  Can you write a poem about who your mother was when you were not around?
 — percocet

percocet speaks with the same bullshit tongue bauer does. coincidence?
 — unknown

"Can you write a poem about who your mother was when you were not around?"


Why does this sound, word for word, the same sort of bullshit challenge to write as bauer would demand?
 — unknown

Bauer's a dunce.  
 — starr

i feel the debt in this poem, and consider it to be shared.

well-wrought, engaging to the end. don't change a thing.
 — NicMichaels

Thanks, Nic!  I'm so glad u like this!  :-)
 — starr

I still like it too.
 — 9

Clear, accessible, direct. The alliteration and rhyme is effective, and the imagery is vivid, created with remarkable economy.
 — alpacas1

Aww!  Thanks 9 and alpaca!  I'm so happy that u like it (still!)  :-)
 — starr

Hey, put the Dying Market poem back up,
I was commenting on that :P
 — 9

LOL!  It's back up, 9!  Sorry!  Had 2 revise it!  :-)
 — starr

"the shadow of my face | in pilot light | covers hers completely." _ " For my mother, Pauline with love."
 — percocet

yes, yes.  :-)
 — starr

Really love this poem...it puts you right in the kitchen and the flow is wonderful. Good read!
kbearandbeans
 — kbearandbean

Thanks, kbear!  SO glad u like it!  It's one of my most personal pieces 2 date and it's done really well here!  Enjoy your summer!  :-)
 — starr

this poem makes me wish I knew you
 — 9

Awww!  Now u DO, buddy.  I'm in ALL of my poems, 9.  :-)
 — starr

congrats on top. always love for this piece. in an age where 'unfriend' 'twerk' and 'selfie' have been added to our beautiful dictionary that didn't need any changes, really, it's good to see something totally organic that can use a relatively basic vocabulary to describe worlds of emotion.

you fucking rock.
 — mould_jesus

mould_jesus: "our beautiful dictionary that didn't need any changes"? what a silly thing to say. the English language is in a constant state of flux.
 — stateofmind

I'm so glad u like this piece, mould_jesus!  Thanks for the good words on my work, my friend!  Hugz!  :-)
 — starr

This is damn damn good Starr. Deserves Top Rated!
 — unknown

"Top Rated," unfortunately, means shit here, but I'm glad u think so and that u like the poem.  :-)
 — starr

It's an egotistical conquest over you mother, like you are the greatest thing that she ever did.  Way to make it to the top ten.  
 — percocet

I'm not so sure I understand the "egotistical conquest."  If "egostistical" at all, it's about her pain in the wake of a marriage that's dying and being in the direct shadow of her pain.  Thanks 4 the comment and the good wish tho.  :-)
 — starr

this is one of your hits starr way out of the ball park..a definitely a fav...
 — brother_sun

Thanks, brother_sun!  I'm so glad u like it!  Hope you're well, my buddy!  xo
 — starr

I can see why this has done well on the lists. Very tangible and evocative.
 — TrickyB

Awww!  Thanks, Tricky!!!  Glad u like it!  :-)
 — starr

This is one of the best descriptive poetry I've seen recently!
 — annakatterin

I'm so glad u like it, annakatterin!  This one's so deeply personal and captures my mother in her very "dark" light while I was growing up, so I like 2 think that it's tributory in a lot of ways.  Thank you 4 the read, rating and kind words!  :-)
 — starr

Wow...how many 1's did u have 2 hit this with in order to bring it down from a 9.9?  Must KILL U that I'm a better writer than u are.  Too bad your life's so shitty.  Karma, I guess.  Betta watch what u put out there.  It'll come back tenfold.  :-)
 — starr

: (
 — 9

Hard 2 believe (but it's true) that there are actually people out there who exist 4 the sole purpose of bein' shitbags, but y'know, 9, I don't sweat 'em.  This particular poem has reached #1 at least 6x since having debuted here, so I'm not even affected by the 1's.  Besides, those are just #'s.  U can't take away the positive comments.  Those belong to my heart always!  :-)
 — starr

brilliant poem
 — rivergood

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