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Featured Guest Poet Paula Grenside

The Town

We constructed our world, a town
With bones, blood, flesh,
The cement of love and iron of will.
We drew streets, gardens, walls,
Tried to control the traffic of emotions,
Though hard for the many red lights
And stop signs that
The engineers of our families
Placed at both sides of dream bridges.
They also built an overpass,
Mixing hate and anger with concrete,
reached us, when an eclipse blinded the sun,
and made us evacuate the town,
while bombs shattered it a heap of ruins.

March, 1999

Paula Grenside's Questions:

This poem too is entirely built on a metaphor.

Is the message clear? What is the impact on the reader?

Paula, the sustained metaphor of this poem works well, creating vivid images of the internal and external forces surrounding a relationship, the town. The gentle image of the connecting bridge was well chosen, as was the hostile forces surrounding this intimate town, built of personal substance and held together by the fragility of dream. By using such spare narration, you heighten the dramatic impact of the ending. This poem moved me with its strong, clean use of imagery to convey deep feeling.

USA - Tue Apr 20 19:40:36 1999
a marvelous poem. the image of the town (dreams) not only carries the storyline, but contains the personal emotion that makes the poem "work" in the first place. the language is wonderfully sparce. it does not tell too much, a rarity in much of today's poetry. it lets the images speak. It creates a voice worth hearing.
kenn mitchell
USA - Wed Apr 21 08:36:11 1999
Paula, This is a wonderful poem. The very vivid pictures you have painted here make it easy to visualize what is going on. I particularly like "the cement of love and iron of will." That says so much about relationship and courage. The use of "traffic of emotions" shows well that our emotions take many roads and can twist and turn at any time. The overpass metaphor was terrific. The mixing of the hate and anger to concrete made us understand what was happening and what was contribution to the ruin. A magnificent finish. Bravo.
USA - Wed Apr 21 16:28:01 1999
Paula, Your metaphor works very well and you do it with such spare images. I love the use of the bridge once again in this poem. This time it is an attempt to overcome hatred and anger, but this is not enough and it ends with the destruction of this precarious town. Excellent use of language and well placed images make this a very strong poem. Terrific.

USA - Wed Apr 21 22:22:47 1999
Hi Paula! I liked your poem 'The town', though I do have some comments to make. May I start with technical thingies? I'm sure you're aware that line capitalisation is just a hangover from the old days when printers did not know where to start the line. I find their use in modern poetry very much on the wane these days. And to make matters worse, their use isn't consistent in this copy of your poem. The same might be said of capital letters for each word of a title (though I accept that this is a matter of personal choice) with the obvious exception of proper nouns. Rightly or wrongly, I saw this poem as a description of a failed relationship with some fairly explicit explanation as to the real, or imagined, source of the break-up. In my opinion, the middle lines of your poem might be better expressed as: despite red lights and stop signs that families placed at ends of bridges (1. ending with 'that' weakens the line. 2. 'engineers' continues the constructional metaphor too long and is unnecessary. 3. Surely 'ends' is better than 'sides'). You might then follow on with: theirs, too, the overpass (I'm just trying to tighten the line. There's no need for 'built', you've implied this sufficiently in what's gone before. Don't underestimate your audience.) I have to say I don't understand 'reached us'? except in a very literal, non-poetic way. What do you think of the last line as: while bombs shattered it to ruin (?) Hope you won't think I have tried to re-write your poem. That was not my intention. Cheers James
USA - Thu Apr 22 05:32:08 1999
Uhmmm...too mechanical. The inspiration is good but I find the poem sounding too artificial. Anyway, kisses;)*

italy - Thu Apr 22 12:54:00 1999
Paula, I found the metaphor of this piece to be a bit over explained. The first line, for example, either say "We constructed a world." or "We constructed a town." I like the second better, because the poem should show or explain how "The Town" is like a world, or is your world until destroyed. Second instead of saying "the traffic of emotions," let the traffic show emotions, or let the signs show emotions, i.e. red, green, yellow, yield signs, merge signs, and you use stop signs. I would also leave out "dream" before "bridges." I think the reader realizes what bridges do, or what they are supposed to do. What if you even used draw bridges that aren't allowed/ or can't close preventing people from crossing them. Like another reader said I'm not trying to re-write your poem, I think you've chosen a good place to start, with towns and relationships, I just feel this piece needs a little more revision. I hope the comments help, and I'd like to see the piece if you decide to alter it in anyway. brad
USA - Sun Apr 25 10:03:43 1999
Paula, First, without reading the other comments, let me tell you the strong metaphor that is the poem, is compelling. There are many terrific images, a consistency n tone that pulls me down through the poem. There are some points of craft that I will mention: 1. I get the sense that teh use of metaphor is somewhat heavy-handed. The old saying "less is more" may apply here. 2. The line structure, particularly the use of caps at the beginning of the lines is fine, although used less these days. It would not be my choice, but as long as it is consistent, it is your choice. The last 3 lines where not capped, which I feel was an oversight. This poem is strong, and I like it. To me, it overflows with a saddness, a mourning few of us understand. Jerry

USA - Fri Apr 30 15:21:22 1999
Paula - I liked your poem. It had a unique ability to touch the readers emotions. I did, however, find it to be a bit confusing - perhaps like two things were being described - but then maybe that is an admirable quality. Thanks! Deborah
Deborah Taylor
USA - Sun May 2 18:24:21 1999

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