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deepwaters Profile
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War Stories


I have revised this piece. This version got creamed on one board. I wonder what you guys think about it.

War Stories

When you have lived in a country touched by war
most stories are short.

Falcons and Hawks interpret your dreams
as smoke waltzes to siren songs. Your only child
never sleeps, surrounded by hushed voices, candle lights
and huddled shadows pacing the walls
of a pregnant bomb shelter, where silence
is the sound of death.

Your lover returns, without his arms,
inhales behind your ears. Shielding the memory
of his cupping your breasts, you close your eyes.

Without warning, you pack and leave
for the edge of the world. Only to discover,
in that drawer where you hide
the treasure of your father's watch,
the same stories still floating.

Last edited by deepwaters, Dec/31/2009, 3:34 am
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Terreson Profile
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Re: War Stories


What can I say, Shabriend,except that this is a poem. I can say more but how much more can anyone say? This is a poem.

~Your lover returns, without his arms,
inhales behind your ears. Shielding the memory
of his cupping your breasts, you close your eyes.~

I bow to this.

Tere

Dec/30/2009, 1:02 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Patricia Jones Profile
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Re: War Stories


Shab, we are all gathered here because we love language, love to write, love poetry...when one or more of us wipe our eyes while reading your poem, can find no words to speak to it, I think you should take that as the supreme compliment.

I don't know what board creamed it, but don't go back there!

The first read is so powerful, I got up, walked away from the computer and stared out the window and thought long and hard about how lucky I am, how difficult it must be to live with such fear and horror.

I will be back to read it many more times and some may have suggestions but please don't lose the power and impact this poem has trying to revise it.

I feel honored that you shared it with us.

Thank you,
Pat

 



---
"Don't you worry--I ain't evil, I'm just bad".
~Chris Smither~
Dec/30/2009, 1:40 am Link to this post Send Email to Patricia Jones   Send PM to Patricia Jones
 
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Re: War Stories


Strong poem, Shab. S3 is particularly, I don't know, harrowing maybe.

Here's my nit: "Without warning, you pack and leave/for the edge of the world."

I do get the idea of an abrupt dislocation. Just don't get the sense of it from the words, "without warning."

Stay clear of the other board; critique is one thing, getting creamed is something else.

Chris
Dec/30/2009, 12:42 pm Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: War Stories


Thank you all. I don't mind the critique; that's why I am here (or there rather). But, having had the piece labeled by having a silly start , being unbelievable, clumsy, and ringing false just disoriented me. Thank you for being here to offer some sanity to my head.

--------------------------
Tere-
Thank you for your generosity. Those words are exactly where the poem started for me. You made my day.

--------------------------
Pat-
I feel honored that reading it had you watching out the window and thinking. I could not have asked for a better response. I look forward to hearing your suggestions.

--------------------------
Chris-
Thank you for your feedback. You know, the ending has never sat quite right with me. I feel like the floating of the stories, the watch, and the sudden packing might come across as gimmicky. At the same time, I feel that the watch plays a role in tying everything together. I don't know.

I get what you are saying about "without warning." Maybe I should just get rid of it and have the packing *come* abruptly.

-shab
Dec/30/2009, 5:05 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: War Stories


deepwaters,

I don't know whast your original was like, so can't tell if it merited being creamed. But this version is quite strong. For me, it's not perfect, but how many poems do you find on the net that are perfect? I mean, this is very good. Zak

 deepwaters wrote:

I have revised this piece. It got creamed on one board. I wonder what you guys think about it.

War Stories

When you have lived in a country touched by war
most stories are short. [For me, the first two lines were the weakest in the poem. That's because I really wonder at the truth of this. I say this because Tolstoy wrote "War and Peace", a very long novel about his Russia steeped in war during the Napoleonic invasion.]

Falcons and Hawks interpret your dreams
as smoke waltzes to siren songs. Your only child [Excellent. I am curious about your poetic influences; I tend to think of the prose writers of magical realism when I see this. However, I am aware that this about bird interpretation goes very far back and very deeply into history.]
never sleeps, surrounded by hushed voices, candle lights
and huddled shadows pacing the walls
of a pregnant bomb shelter, where silence
is the sound of death. [I feel rather than understand this metaphor. The two contradictions are quite good.]

Your lover returns, without his arms,
inhales behind your ears. Shielding the memory
of his cupping your breasts, you close your eyes. [This is very, very strong.]

Without warning, you pack and leave
for the edge of the world. Only to discover,
in that drawer where you hide
the treasure of your father's watch,
the same stories still floating. ["edge of the world" for me means either exile or psychic retreat of some kind. Again, the magical realism with stories floating.]

Dec/30/2009, 5:56 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: War Stories


Hi Shab,

I believe this is a revision of a poem I saw sometime ago. Although I don't remember the original clearly, I can say this version is stronger, more coherent and emotionally more evocative.

When you have lived in a country touched by war
most stories are short. [I took this to me that while the story of a war may be long; individual stories often aren't}

Falcons and Hawks interpret your dreams
as smoke waltzes to siren songs. Your only child
never sleeps, surrounded by hushed voices, candle lights
and huddled shadows pacing the walls [I took this to mean that never sleeps deeply but only fitfully.]
of a pregnant bomb shelter, where silence
is the sound of death. [At first this line puzzled me, but then I realized that the sounds of dying in a war often loud, the sound of death is silence.]

Your lover returns, without his arms,
inhales behind your ears. Shielding the memory
of his cupping your breasts, you close your eyes. [Excellent stanza. Devastating.]

Without warning, you pack and leave
for the edge of the world. Only to discover,
in that drawer where you hide
the treasure of your father's watch,
the same stories still floating. [I get what Chris said about "without warning." I took the line to mean without a plan, destination, money, good byes etc.]

I read this comment you made elsewhere and thought it was poetry:

"It almost seems as if even the trees hold still against the breeze."

I have more to say. Be back in a bit.


Last edited by Katlin, Jan/8/2010, 11:51 pm
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JRPearson Profile
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Re: War Stories


Hello Shab, nice to meet you! Yo dude, love this poem, it's plain spoken yet holds it mysteries close to its vest until under extreme examination, it gives them up. Very nice. I felt like what Billy Collins once said: some want to tie the poem to a chair & whip it with a hose until it talks....

That was this poem....

Best,
JR
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Katlin Profile
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Re: War Stories


A few more thoughts.

Re: "your child never sleeps" I was reminded of something I observed when my cat, who was born outdoors and lived outside for 8 years, first came inside to live. For many months, she slept lightly. The slightest sound made her jump into alertness. Part of this was due to the fact that she was in a new environment, but part of it was due to the fact that when she had lived outside she had to be hypervigilant all the time at some level just to stay alive. I think that even if a child isn't old enough to understand what there was to fear in a warzone, she would sense the fear in those around her and her animal instinct would kick in.

Re: "where silence/is the sound of death." A friend of mine who grew up in Nazi Germany during WWII wrote a memoir of his experience during those years. He describes scenes of huddling in a bomb shelter with his mother and their neighbors. He, too, describes that moment of silence after the bombing stopped but before the lights went back on and people began to breathe and move again, began to look around to assess the damage, who had been hurt and who was still alive, etc.

I'm not sure if I suggested this to you before, but one poet you might like to read is the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska. Here is a link to one of my favoirte poems by her:

http://www.threepennyreview.com/samples/szymborska_su97.html

Oh, I forgot to mention earlier: I liked the ending of the poem. The father's watch and the floating stories are haunting images for me.

Anyway, that's what I think. HTH.


Last edited by Katlin, Jan/8/2010, 11:54 pm
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SteveParker Profile
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Re: War Stories


I already learned a lot of stuff from this poem. It's more of a narrative than I'm generally into, but I am very into learning from other people's poetry. I'm learning plenty here. In fact I am learning plenty from all you guys on this forum. I love the narrative opening here. I wouldn't do it myself just because it ain't me now, but I still love it happening for its evocation. Yeah, I'm rocking with this one.

Steve.
Dec/31/2009, 10:26 pm Link to this post Send Email to SteveParker   Send PM to SteveParker
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: War Stories


Happy New Year everyone!

Thank you for your comments. I will be back with some specific thoughts on your feedback, as soon as I recover from NY-Eve activities. Thanks again.
-shabnam
Jan/1/2010, 12:15 am Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: War Stories


Zak-

Thank you for your detailed comments.

I wish I could take credit for a deep meaning behind bird interpretations, but it was only referring to jet fighters, bombers, and that type of army equipment.

You are right about the edge of the world referring to exile, at least from where I am sitting.

Thanks again for your time and feedback.

----------------------------------------

JR-
quote:

Hello Shab, nice to meet you! Yo dude, love this poem



This dudette is pleased to meet you too! Thank you for reading and for your generous assessment.

-----------------------------------------

Steve-

Thank you for visiting this piece and commenting. Muchly appreciated.

Jan/4/2010, 8:58 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: War Stories


Katlin-

You are right about having seen this piece before. I first wrote it a couple of years ago.

You are also right about the intention behind "without warning" but I am not sure how clearly that idea is communicated. It might be that taking that phrase out is more appropriate. At least that is where I am leaning right now.

quote:

I read this comment you made elsewhere and thought it was poetry:

"It almost seems as if even the trees hold still against the breeze."


Thank you! Maybe I should work it into this piece since it was motivated by it. emoticon

re the child sleeping thing: I think you are right. I remember that I would pretend I was asleep when the sirens would go off, mostly because I was lazy enough not to want to get dressed and naive enough to think that my parents would leave me in my bed and go to shelter without me(!). But, I feel like during those years, I never slept deeply, even though I did not realize it at the time.

re the sound of silence in war: When I wrote this, I had not clearly dissected why silence meant death to me. A few nights ago, I remembered one more thing - that silence sometimes was ensued when we knew a bomb was about to be dropped, everyone holding their breath; so, it signaled that death was about to arrive, we just didn't know where it would land. This is in addition to that tree bit that you quoted. I am strongly attached to this notion of silence signaling death, but sometimes we are attached to the exact concept that is not working. I don't know.

You had not mentioned Wislawa Szymborska. I will check her out. You always make great reading recommendations to me. It is greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for your help.
Jan/4/2010, 9:01 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: War Stories


Shabfriend I hope you will allow this. I got a report on how and where your poem got "creamed." So I listened through the comments, at least the ones posted at poets.org. I was nonplussed, I was appalled, and finally I was angry. I was particularly incensed by how many (most) of the comments had nothing to do with the poem in hand and everything to do with the commentator's agenda. I really despise that sort of faux-critic.

You have a poem in hand here. In the way you have for working over the particulars you will work through the things not working for you yet. But you have one fine poem in hand and I hope in your gut you know it.

Do yourself a favor, my friend. Choose your critics carefully. Most of whom, in fact, are looking to put poetry down in order to make themselves feel better about their own lack. I still can't believe the tripe put out.

Tere
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Terreson Profile
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Re: War Stories


Okay. I've come back to the poem for something like the sixth, seventh, or eighth time now. I still go with my first reading. This is a powerful lyric poem made in a voice that is both original and grounded in a tradition at least as old as Hafiz. But something comes through for me I didn't get before. The poet's longing, hankering for her homeland.

This poem is just exquisite. I wanted to make sure my first reading was right. It is.

Tere
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Patricia Jones Profile
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Re: War Stories


Since Tere has come back after reading it many times, so am I. Like Tere, I would change nothing in my original comment:

Shab, we are all gathered here because we love language, love to write, love poetry...when one or more of us wipe our eyes while reading your poem, can find no words to speak to it, I think you should take that as the supreme compliment.

I don't know what board creamed it, but don't go back there!

The first read is so powerful, I got up, walked away from the computer and stared out the window and thought long and hard about how lucky I am, how difficult it must be to live with such fear and horror.

I will be back to read it many more times and some may have suggestions but please don't lose the power and impact this poem has trying to revise it.

I feel honored that you shared it with us.

Thank you,
Pat


I will add that I agree, this poem is exquisite as is...and no one but you could have written it. Hone it, if you must, but please do it carefully with the help of those you trust.

---
"Don't you worry--I ain't evil, I'm just bad".
~Chris Smither~
Jan/9/2010, 3:53 am Link to this post Send Email to Patricia Jones   Send PM to Patricia Jones
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: War Stories


Tere -

quote:

I was particularly incensed by how many (most) of the comments had nothing to do with the poem in hand and everything to do with the commentator's agenda. I really despise that sort of faux-critic.


I am totally with you on that. Honestly, I did feel that comments like war is this way and that or telling me that the poem lacks respect and depth had nothing to do with critiquing in an effort to improve, rather it had to do with exactly what you suggest: the commentators feelings and thoughts about war or what a story about war should look like, not about whether the poem is succeeding in communicating a point/idea/story/feeling.

quote:

I still can't believe the tripe put out.


And the ugliest exchanges were removed by Kaltica, at my request. It is so comforting to hear you say this. It confirms that I wasn’t imagining that this is all wrong headed.

quote:

Choose your critics carefully.


Thanks, Tere. I have learned a valuable lesson on my past couple of posts on poets.org. I am grateful to the site, because it introduced me to you, Katlin, and Chris, and in turn to my boardfriends here; nevertheless, I don’t see myself posting poems for feedback on that board again.

Something you said about the poem resonates with me: “The poet's longing, hankering for her homeland. “

As always, you are insightful. In fact, I am writing a poem about Tehran. I know it was inspired by the current Forough poem I am translating, but I am hoping that it will have my voice. Stay tuned.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement.


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deepwaters Profile
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Re: War Stories


Pat –

Thank you for coming back and reaffirming that the poem succeeds on some level. I will clean it up a bit, and might send it off to the war poetry contest (details in News You Can Use forum). Thanks again. Your comments and reaction are very valuable to me.
Jan/9/2010, 3:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: War Stories


And the ugliest exchanges were removed by Kaltica, at my request.

Mamma mia. Hard to believe there were worse comments than the ones I read. You probably figured out that some of the comments I made in my critique here were addressing comments I saw there. I started to post my critique there in fact, but then I changed my mind. Personally, I thought some of those critiques were the real words in that thread that were lacking in respect and depth. BTW, I thought you handled your responses to those crits very well. You were polite and respectful, said thank you, all the while maintaining your own integrity and self-respect.
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Patricia Jones Profile
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Re: War Stories


I'd never been to that board before....sheesh! I'm glad I haven't. Tonight I went looking for the comments on your poem. The arrogance was tough to wade through, but the lack of common courtesy, the lack of basic manners is astounding. If anyone should be able to give objective/constructive critique, it should be a bunch of poets who obviously think they have a greater command of language and the art of poetry than most.

Shab, you responded with incredible grace. I hope it was noted...but something tells me that is doubtful there.

Just wanted you to know it didn't go un-noticed here. : )

Pat

---
"Don't you worry--I ain't evil, I'm just bad".
~Chris Smither~
Jan/12/2010, 3:21 am Link to this post Send Email to Patricia Jones   Send PM to Patricia Jones
 
SteveParker Profile
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Re: War Stories


Wow, I just went and read the thread, and man is it corrupt. That reminds me of PFFA at its height of bloodsport. And similarly it is just all wrong. This isn't my favourite poem, though it has a heck of a lot going for it, but some of this stuff is just totally unreasonable. Take it right from the start about the objections to stories being short. I get that entirely as a thing of war. Maybe there just isn't time. Maybe nothing can ever be fully expressed, either then or after. Seems like an obvious thing to me that war always cuts everything short. Every breath is stifled. Every need to explain is cut off. Nothing ever gets to narrate wholly. This is easy stuff, isn't it? I could go through the entire thread like that but I would bore the ass off everyone.

Deepwaters person, !@#$ those idiots.

I love heavy critique, but only when it's accurate. I was raised on PFFA, and I sometimes dig the schadenfreude, but really it absolutely has to be truthful and exacting. What you got there was a bunch of self-satisfied twats coasting on their own group-hubris.

Steve.
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deepwaters Profile
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Re: War Stories


Kat, Pat, and Steve -

Thank you for taking the time to check out the other thread and offering your support. It is greatly appreciated.

Steve, I am totally happy with a harsh heavy critique. The teacher is me in not quite dead yet, and knows that the shown flaws is where one learns the most. Come at my poem with a knife any time, but don't knock out the leg from under me when I am on a crutch emoticon

Thanks again, everyone.
-shab
Jan/13/2010, 3:17 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
SteveParker Profile
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Re: War Stories


Shab, I am afraid to say that if you were on a crutch here I would be keen to kick it out from under you. Sorry, but I'd rather do that quickly so you could get on with your life more realistically. But the thing is you are not on any crutches here. Please don't think such a thing. Don't even begin to think such a thing. Honestly, I hate bad poetry and I will always tell it like it is, but this isn't bad poetry. It just isn't. You don't need any charity here, you just need some confidence.

Go forth and kick ass.

Steve.
Jan/14/2010, 3:32 am Link to this post Send Email to SteveParker   Send PM to SteveParker
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: War Stories


quote:

SteveParker wrote:

if you were on a crutch here I would be keen to kick it out from under you. Sorry, but I'd rather do that quickly so you could get on with your life more realistically.



See, I have a different approach. Being on crutches doesn't mean that the person cannot become a walker or even a runner. I may decide I am not the one to help them get there & walk away, but kicking it from under them doesn't do anyone good.

Thanks for the nod. I appreciate it.

Jan/14/2010, 3:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 


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