Albany Poetry 
Workshop Logo

Sponsored Ads

Featured Guest Poet Jean Moore

Seventeen-Year Marriage

How far into my soul
can your commitment
grow and still
not commit
to love?

Silence stalks our odyssey
as quietly as secrets sit
bare naked

Deep into this journey,
my love floats --
like a feather floats
from a pillow after

it's been punched.

November, 2000

Jean Moore's Questions:

Is the title discriptive enough?

Should the last word in the second stanza read gossip or gossiping?

Does the dash work after the word floats (3rd stanza)?

Do you get anything out of the poem personally?

Any other comments would be helpful feedback.

The Title is certainly descriptive. I believe gossiping would actually be gramatically incorrect.Howver I find another problem with this stanza. Quietly seems to contadict gossiping which suggests hearing the secrets speaking. Also Silence is the essence of quietness, therefore how else can silence "stalk" than quietly? The dashes suggest a pause before an irony unfolds for the reader, so in that sense it works. However I would omit the second "floats". It delays and weakens the impact of the punch (no pun intended) of the last line which gives us the intensity of the suffering voice in the poem. Personally, the poem is very moving. The poet is in a very unhappy relationship. The first stanza is not entirely clear. Is the other committed or not? How can a commitment grow that is not there? what is it committed to? The second stanza reveals the alienation between the two. They do not communicate. The last stanza would seem to say that the love of the speaker has been knocked out of her/him not only by alienation but by violence. Is this what is intended? If so the stanza would certainly work. If not then what else is it saying? Keep writing.
gaetana Cannavo
USA - Wed Nov 22 22:35:42 2000

Yes, I think the title is descriptive enough. "Gossiping" is alright, but a comma immediately after "naked" makes it sound smoother. I found, as a previous reader did, the second stanza contradictory. I'd remove it. Some interesting half-meanings appear from the individual lines of the first stanza, but it's a bit vague. Honestly, the heart of the poem is that powerfully suggestive third stanza. It's capable of standing alone as a tanka. I'd remove the dash; it doesn't add anything to the poem that the linebreak doesn't already add. Really, this stanza says everything important about the poem: the intimate relationship (more universal because it's unspecified), the duration of that relationship, the palpable sense of floating offered by the staggering of the lines, a sense of disjointedness due that staggering, a suggestion of violence, and the rhetorical impact of setting the last line off by itself. If you haven't read it yet, I recommend the book _The Ink Dark Moon; Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan_, Jane Hirschfield and Mariko Aratani, trs., NY: Vintage, 1986. It's a book of tanka and you'll have to hunt for it since it's out-of-print, but it's also instructive and enjoyable. Just one example by Izumi, p. 63:

I used to say,
"How poetic,"
but now I know
this dawn-rising men do
is merely tiresom!

M. Nickels-Wisdomi
USA - Wed Nov 29 16:30:37 2000
The title is descriptive enough, perhaps a bit too much. I would personally prefer to keep the core a secret till the end of the poem. Gossipping is fine, it goes with the rhythm too. After the word floats I think it would be better to use "..." On a more personal note, the poem touches some part of me, making me realise some things that I didn't earlier, or that I should have. (Sorry for being so abstract) Your work is crisp and fresh. Keep writing. Arjun
Arjun Purkayastha
India - Fri Dec 1 09:36:30 2000
The title, in my view, gives just the right amount of description. "Gossiping" is fine--you would have to alter the rest of the sentence to make "gossip" grammatically correct. I think the dash works because its abruptness prefigures the final image of the punched pillow. I was personally affected by the originality and vividness of the imagery. The first stanza was more vague and abstract--I wonder if you could employ a some concrete sensory detail there instead, like you do in the rest of the poem. However, even though the imagery caught my attention and had emotional impact, I agree with the others that they lack a logical connection with what they're supposed to illustrate, which is distracting. As mentioned before, gossiping doesn't connote silence or stalking--I wonder if you could change the first part of that metaphor so it would make more sense. Also, as much as I loved the feel of the final image, it has logical problems, too. While a feather from a punched pillow floats, that's only part of what the image is set up to illustrate. A feather would float briefly and lightly, not deep into a journey. Again, you could adjust the first part of that metaphor to conform to the second part. I'm really intrigued by both those metaphors--if you sharpened their logic, their impact would be even stronger.
Jennifer Wortman
USA - Sun Dec 3 09:54:46 2000
Thank you all for your comments. They were very helpful. It seems that most had a problem with the second stanza and I was wondering if this piece worked better?

How far into the soil 
have you watered
	the vision to love?

Silence will not erase
history. Our secrets sit 
	as quietly
		as gossip.

Long into this journey, 
my love floats -- 
	like a feather 
		from a pillow after 

it's been punched.

Jean Moore
Colo. Springs, CO USA - Fri Dec 15 11:28:16 2000

Sponsored Ads