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Featured Guest Deborah A. Miranda

Music Like Red Earth

We drive north against evening's

soft purple. The sun sets for a long time;

we are heading into the solstice.

It is that part of the land

where people carve farms

in the shadow of mesas and sandstone

temples. When metal scratches her,

earth rises up thick and red as old blood.

On this thin black road we roll down

the windows. The steering wheel burns

my hands; my hair comes unbraided,

flies into the wind. You ask me

not to bind it up again. Smiling

beside me, you play a red accordion

at 65 miles per hour: rich waltzes,

fast French tunes, sad Portuguese ballads

and the bad one about four wet pigs

that makes us laugh. You name the melodies

that slope between one low hill

and the next. Along the ditch, tall grasses

sway with silky tops lit scarlet and hot.

Our passing makes them leap like celebrants

rooted in one place but dancing

with all their hearts nonetheless.

Notes and chords rush into the car

like a lost flock of wild birds;

tangle in our hair, stream out, soothed,

into slow twilight.

In the morning we will breathe

their feathery scent on our pillows.

Tonight, you play music like red earth,

honor what we have found here

the best you can: with the stain

of a sacred color and that ruby

accordion beating, breathing,

for both of us.

April, 2002

Deborah A. Miranda's Questions:

I feel like the first stanza is necessary to set the scene, but now I'm wondering if I just wrote my way in using that first stanza. I need someone outside the poem to tell me, do you need that stanza to get oriented?

Deborah - I like this poem a lot. Although I like the first stanza (especially the last two lines), I don't believe that this stanza adds much to the poem. Poems don't need scene setting as much as fiction or even prose. And although the title plays into those "red" and "earth" images in the first stanza, the second stanza really moves quickly into the music of the poem and music of the subject. The good verbs like "roll" "burns" "flies" really get the poem moving (compare to the rather sedate verbs in the first stanza). So I think you could safely remove the first stanza and the poem would not suffer. You might find a place for the last line in stanza one somewhere else in the poem to tie the red earth image into the music of the ruby red accordion. This is a fine piece with those qualities I admire in poetry: simple words painting exact images in an exciting rhythm. Best to you. Larry Fontenot
Larry L. Fontenot
USA - Thu Apr 25 19:12:52 2002

Thanks, larry, and also to those who emailed me privately about this poem. It's so good to get some feedback about that first stanza. I tend to agree about not needing it now; I'll whack it off and live with it that way awhile. hard to get rid of lines, isn't it?! thanks, dm
Deborah Miranda
USA - Fri May 3 09:25:36 2002
I really enjoyed this poem. About the first stanza, I like it a lot and felt it stood out even before i read your question. I agree that there really doesn't need to be that kind of set up in a poem (like fiction), but maybe you could try putting it at the end. I found your ending satisfying, but if you end it with a more concrete detail like: When metal scratches her, earth rises up thick and red as old blood. Personally I like to be left with images that make my heart stop, in a way, like this one. But, I love and hate critiques and sometimes I listen to people, and sometimes I don't, so it is always up to you. This is just a suggestion. Thank you for your poem. Ashley
Ashley Cook
USA - Sun May 12 13:56:10 2002
It might seem relatively unhealthy for you, Mirandda, to read smb's commentaries about your poem when this smb. is not a native English speaker. And yet, I would like to say that the frst stanza is the best one in the whole poem. It is a bit cut off from the rest of your poem but it is the best part of it. Why: 1. Because it sets a sort of mythological background on yor poem - part of land, sandstone temples, earth rises... 2. It is not the key to the rest of the poem but it could be seen as lyrically sufficient to itself, it is a poem in itself, except the fact that it does not cover the whole meaning of the title. 3. Dnt give up so eaily to what you've done. Try to fit t properly into the whole by adding or changig smth. in it. Bye.
Romnia - Sun May 19 03:52:03 2002

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