Please VOTE! for your favourite poem in the Jan. 2011 SDMB Poetry Sweatshop's Anthology Thread!!!

It is 8 AM, PST - the January 2011 Poetry Sweatshop will close an hour from now. In the meantime, I will start posting the poems I’ve received thus far, and I’ll start the poll at 9 AM. As I write this, interested poets still have one hour to submit something.

Past poets (and I) have greatly appreciated people’s comments and feedback on the works presented here. I have one simple request - please wait one hour until the Sweatshop officially ends at 9 AM before posting anything else. That way, the first replies are all just the poems. After 9 AM - yes, please, we welcome your input!

I just want to emphasize the importance of voting - the poets are depending on you for an outside opinion of their work. The poll is by secret ballot, so no one need ever know how you voted. As we did for the last few months, I will make this a multiple choice poll.

Please note that the poll is seeking your favourite poem - no special knowledge of poetry required. Whichever poems strike a chord with you, please give them your vote. And, though the choice will be difficult, please take the time to choose at least one poem.

I also want to mention that because of our working method, all of the following poems will be posted under my user name, which may lead people to think that I am trying to claim authorship. Only one of the following poems is mine - the authors’ names may be found in the spoiler boxes at the bottom of each reply.

The three words this month are:


And so, allow me to present our poets’ work for this January…

An afternoon diversion, to cobble together a history
from what is left behind. And so we walk, reading the names,
telling stories amid the leaning stones,
growing green with moss, and old with time.
They lean, haphazard, turning this way, and that,
as if to yet follow the sun through the sky.
Gravity’s hand, or vandals
hasten the return to the earth. Even monuments fall.
The bronze turns to green, the trees rise higher,
the alabaster angels, in heavy cream, dim to dun,
shadows deepen upon miniature avenues.

The stones and statues, robbed of grandeur,
but somehow still beautiful in slow decay.
The dead are quiet in their sleeping village,
the water beyond the trees ceaselessly rises, and falls back.
Month after month, for uncounted histories.
Nothing marks the shore forever: what the storms bring in
the tide takes away. Only the curve of the bay will outlast us.

We walk through the open gate
because we can, the sunlight warm,
and throw beach stones, granite grey, into the water.
This afternoon, the simple sweetness of ice cream,
the touch of sun burn.
Some day, the silence
that only the dead know.


I kissed her on her alabaster skin,
Where sun-sent bronze had never staked its claim,
And marveled at the joys I found therein.

She did as well, as evidenced in grin.
And as a blush spread quick throughout her frame,
I kissed her on her alabaster skin.

Her form, less hourglass, more violin,
I stroked, love’s melodies seeking to tame,
And marveled at the joys I found therein.

Though ne’er a great composer have I been,
When played on her, a symphony became;
I kissed her on her alabaster skin.

With every cobbled note I did begin,
An aria of lust from out her came,
I marveled at the joys I found therein.

And then the great crescendo of our sin,
She shuddered, and as dully grew her flame,
I kissed her on her alabaster skin,
And marveled at the joys I found therein.


Oh, my friend, please believe me:
I knew her far too well to think
that anyone could capture her
with a photograph or a painting,
let alone a statue, in bronze no less!
She would have laughed at the thought of it -
sheer foolishness, a conceit, a bad joke,
of she who was so very alive, so filled with
everything that makes life worth living, no!
The sculptor does not exist who could cobble together
a likeness worthy of she who won my heart;
but here it is, in this fair garden where we spent
so many happy hours, just so, and I remember;
oh, yes, I remember, and I yearn for what now is lost.

Wait with me here but a moment more, won’t you?
I close my eyes, so many years later,
and still I see her dancing eyes, her alabaster skin,
the spray of freckles across her nose,
that lustrous dark hair framing a matchless face
her gentle touch, those curves beneath silk,
witty, wise and good, with so gentle a laugh,
and a kindness and grace that, being lovely,
brought forth love in all who knew her.
But that was another place, another time, long ago,
and now, to see her statue here, the ribbon cut,
the speeches made, the cake served to all,
I, now grown old, see her here, and
she breaks my heart, yet again and anew,
without saying a word.

Elendil’s Heir

I have a statue of you in my heart
cobbled from different elements.
I will not chain your feet with bronze
nor still your movement in alabaster
though my love is big enough…

warmth of wood
dance of light on water
a playful rocket powered robot
which plays electric guitar
its smile is a fog light
its music is a reckless laughter
it dances like a ballerina on a roller coaster

it smells like burnt toast
it tastes of tears, snot and sugary-junk cereal
it challenges and consoles at the same time

and draws me through my days
with joy.

Le Ministre de l’au-delà

With the poll established, the writing portion of the January 2011 SDMB Poetry Sweatshop draws to a close. Now we get to read, comment and vote.

I’d like to try an experiment - I’ve specifically asked the Mods not to put a sticky on this thread. I’m curious to see whether having it free floating might draw more attention to it, and whether it will encourage commentary.

For those curious about such things, the words this time were drawn by creating three random numbers between 1 and 476, then three further random numbers between 1 and 16, and then taking the words from the page and line number in my edition of The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens.

Congratulations to all the poets who contributed for some very interesting and enjoyable work!

All four poems are lovely. I can’t choose one. That would be like saying the rest weren’t as good, and I think they’re all wonderful.

Maybe later tonight I’ll try to pick one.

Holy cow, I can’t believe what the others can write in an hour. I feel I should know the verse form of “When First We Played” (but I was an anthropology major…) I like its repetition, and it seems to read so classically – as if could have been written on Sunday or two hundred years ago.

“The Young Duchess” caught my heart at the end. Oh, love… I see a beautiful young woman and feel there is a whole love story behind the poem I want to read.

“For My Children”:

*it dances like a ballerina on a roller coaster

it smells like burnt toast*

…ooh! I wish I’d written those lines! The imagery is bright and memorable, and ridiculous and so very real. Also, one doesn’t come across snot very much in poetry! :slight_smile: Or maybe I don’t read enough.

I am really impressed with the contributions.

I voted for The Young Duchess, 1927, which somehow reminded me of both Browning, obviously, but also Wallace Stevens, though I don’t know why. It’s a lovely poem and I enjoyed it greatly.

For My Children I strongly disliked when I read it the first time but grew on me on re-reading, and was my second favorite.

It truly is impressive what all you guys managed to do in one hour. Congrats!

It’s a villanelle.

Beat me to the punch vdgg81 :slight_smile: The most recognized villanelle is likely Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.”

Savannah, you really honor me with such words - and likewise, I have to say that the quality of poetry that I read on the SDMB sweatshops never ceases to amaze me. In all honesty, simply being read along side these poems is an honor. Thanks, Le Min, for hosting these! :slight_smile:

I am humbled to be in such esteemed poetic company. Thanks for the compliments.

Only four submissions, but all enjoyable to read! Guess this was a bad weekend for more people than just me.

I think it’s interesting that we used ‘alabaster’ as both an adjective to describe skin colour and a white gypsum stone used for monuments, ‘bronze’ both as the admixture of tin and copper and as a reference to the hue of sun-tanned skin, yet we all used ‘cobble’ as the verb denoting ‘to assemble roughly’ and not as the noun for a paving stone. I had been thinking for a few minutes about adding in a reference to the 59th Street Bridge Song, but in the end, I went the other way.

For me, a two-way tie for first place, with all the contenders being very well done.

But I voted for Young Duchess and Ross Bay Cemetery. I agree with vdgg81’s comment that Young Duchess reminds us tangentially of Wallace Stevens. And he said he didn’t know why that was; I humbly suggest it was Stevens’ evocative reminder that “Death is the mother of beauty.”

Outstanding work.

Outstanding work, agreed. But I voted for “When First We Played” just because it’s such a rare verse form, and the author used it well. (Amusingly, I was reading about villanelles only a day or two ago, and when I saw the opening stanza I thought “Wow, that would make a great start to a…” and then I saw he’d done it. :cool: )

All of the poems are outstanding, but I had to throw a couple of votes to “Ross Bay Cemetery” and “The Young Duchess 1927.”

At the risk of saying,“I saw a ducky and a horsey,” I’ll add that I just liked the imagery of “Ross Bay,” and the last stanza wraps things up nicely. As for “Duchess,” I found that like a good story, it drew the reader in, until it reveals itself.

But to all poets, nicely done!

I note with interest that all four poems are intensely aware of the passage of time and of what has been, or will be, lost, although in the case of When First We Played that theme is mostly expressed in the title of the poem.

I liked specific things about each one; in the interest of brevity, I’ll be succinct:

The first stanza of For My Children, the image of baby shoes or a statue as imprisonment of something ephemeral is clever.

When First We Played – I’m still not entirely sure whether it’s about a woman, using an instrument as a metaphor, or about a musical instrument being romanced like a woman. Plus, I dig the use of the villanelle form.

The comma structure in Ross Bay. At first I objected to some of the commas, but looking deeper, tried to see why they were put there. I like the measured pace their small interruptions bring to the theme.

Lastly, The Young Duchess. The words that stay with me most from this entire thread:

yet again and anew,

Indeed, that sharp dig we all know.

Good feedback. Thanks!

Got my votes in just in time. Few to choose between but each still well done!

I’m curious. Has this change encouraged commentary? I don’t remenber reading any of the previous threads, so it seems to have worked in my case.