Guest Poet Julie Anne Stein

When you found me I was naked in the corner,
You blushed and offered me a cloak of light.
I let your Mercy drape me in your uniform;
I don't remember promising to fight.
You taught me how to stare into the morning;
I practiced till i couldn't see the stars.
We burned the shadows growing on the pavement,
And trapped the fireflies in pickle jars.
I waged your private war against the corners,
Who hid in angles from your charities.
I lit them all on fire to kill their secret;
I heard their last confessions on my knees.
Oh yes, I was your vicious little soldier,
Marching under brilliant scrutiny,
Until the day I peered into a mirror
And scorched my eyes in private mutiny.
You scowled when I returned, then you dismissed me,
And turned in pity from my dimming stare.
But I indulged in memories of embers,
And folded up the pride you'd had me wear.

December, 1999

Julie Anne Stein's Questions:

1) I'm sort of a fledgling poet, my only education being the many lines of 'old' poetry that I have read, and I'm wondering if rhyming is -- as some have told me -- really dying out?  Should I focus more on free-verse in the future, or can rhyming be incorporated into contemporary verse and still speak to the contemporary soul?  

2) How could I best use the punctuation to emphasize the feeling in the poem?  I can't seem to add anything without feeling that I've depleted from the 'purity,' I suppose, of the whole.  

3)The last line "And folded up the pride you'd had me wear" sounds so awkward to me.  Do you have any suggestions to make it a little more smooth?  

4) What are your ideas regarding the meaning(s) of this poem?  It was written in response to another poem by Leonard Cohen, which many of you may not have read... and I'm wondering if the metaphorical images can still be understood by people who haven't read the other poem.  

Thank you!!!!  This is a delightful site, and I wish you the best of luck!

The Albany Poetry Workshop