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Featured Guest Poet
Gaetana Cannavo

Man, Woman and the Bird of Night

In the silence of evening
a man and a woman
walk into the fields.
It is early evening.
They have left their house,
the potted ferns,
the half-played dominoes.
All afternoon
they have been volcanic,
spewing boulders of hot words,
their tongues
stoking the fires of rage.
Their throats are scorched
with the crackling lava
of recycled histories.
Now bruised and bent
under so much slag
they stagger
into the obsidian darkness
of night.

They want to be deaf,
delivered of sight and sense.
The want to lose themselves.
Moist with the dew of love
he will tell her
she is more beautiful
than any flower.
The bird of night will hoot.
They will laugh
and she will say,
"He knows better."

They will return to the house
of the potted ferns.
They will resume
the game of dominoes,
and the bird of night
will be silent.

January, 2000

Gaetana Cannavo's Questions:

Is the poem too obvious or too ambiguous? Obscure?

Is the title appropriate?

Are the line breaks in accordance with natural speech?

Does the poem convey meaning?

The word evening is repeated twice in the first four lines. Is this a problem?

I would be willing to change the first line to "In silence/a man and woman/walk into fields of grass."

Other suggestions?

Gaetana, What I like about this is the control of the language and imagery. It is plain-stated and straightforward narrative. The ferns and dominoes add a quirky touch to the plainness, and when we arrive at the volcano metaphor, the poem achieves a bit of tension. The ending isn't all there for me yet. I want more resolution with the bird and the relationship. Somehow the bird needs to become more involved in the resolution of the poem than just to remain silent. What if the bird were to display some vivid action -- something with its feathers, signaling its mate? Or perhaps some act having to do with its nest. For me the bird must act as a metaphor in some way for the couple and for their decision to return home for the poem to seem complete. Thanks for sending it to us.
Scott Reid
USA - Sat Jan 29 13:46:31 2000

I felt the end is little ambiguous, where they resume the dominoes. Though it laconically conveys that they do not like to be volcanic. Seemingly they have learnt something from the 'lonely' bird which is supposedly hooting to attract its mate. As they resumed their game silently, the bird, in the night, also has stopped hooting, when it met its mate. There is a subtlity of that communion of those two couples. You may still add/insert a word or two to make it clear that this time they decided not to spew, but to feel deeply the coolness of the dew. The title is appropriate and the poem has meaning. You need not change the beginning.

India - Sat Feb 12 01:41:05 2000
Gaetana, I like the poem and it has meaning; it marks the phases, the game of dominoes, the volcanic one, the search for soothing dew. To answer your questions, I'd change the title, leaving only "The bird of Night". Then, no need to change the beginning, but I'd drop the fourth line that is redundant--we already know it's evening. Allthe rest flows well. The close is ambiguous. I don't know whether you want to be such, but the game of dominoes is so close to the volcanic eruption...what is the real meaning of continuing the game while the bird is silent? The close can be received in different ways, therefore, I'dd add some words, if you DO want to clarify. Good poem. Thank you for the read. Paula Grenside
Paula Grenside
Italy - Mon Feb 14 08:44:16 2000
Gaetana, of course it has meaning! I am going in a different direction than my counterparts re: revision. May I humbly suggest that you say "walk into fields" (no "the") and eliminate "It is early evening.." by saying "they have left the afternoon, the potted ferns etc. I love "they have been volcanic"--beautifully said. Keep the "ing" sound by saying "Their throats scorching" and again "they're staggering" instead. Say "he will say" (rather than tell her) which sounds better with "she will say." Last stanza, perhaps "when they leave fields (echoes 1st stanza and implies going home)Like this: When they leave fields/of potted ferns,/ they resume the game/of dominoes (dominoes needs its own line for emphasis), /and the bird of night/ is silent. Present tense here sounds better. This is a hauntingly beautiful poem. Tighten it up and I think it will reach its potential. Good work!
USA - Thu Feb 17 12:59:12 2000

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