Your Vote Needed! for your favourite poems in the SDMB Poetry Sweatshop Anthology of April 2010

Welcome to the Anthology Thread for the April 2010 SDMB Poetry Sweatshop. I will begin posting the poems already submitted in the next few replies, and at 7 PM PDT, I will establish a poll to determine the readers’ favourite poem.

I just want to emphasize the importance of voting - the poets are depending for an outside opinion of their work. The poll is by secret ballot, so no one need ever know how you voted. Something different this month - I’ve made this a multiple choice poll to see what effect that has on the voting process.

Please note that the poll is seeking your favourite poem - no deep, arcane knowledge of poetry’s inner workings is 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 current 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 month…

I scramble up the mainmast
the moment
the rim of the sun descends
below the horizon
to witness
a second sunset.

This cool, clear night
the Pacific rewards my zeal
and for sacred seconds
the sunset survives
as the sun illuminates
the ocean’s lens.
We sail a scarlet sea
and the earth turns
toward darkness,
toward light.

Le Ministre de l’au-delà

Quietly she turned the page.
Another day passed by as well.
Another year that she survived
Escaping from her former hell
Much like the novel in her hand:
A tale of masters and of woe,
Of cruelty but of triumph too;
Of depths and heights she’d come to know.
But now she sits, a peaceful life.
Contentment illuminates her face.
The terror, tears, the wrenching pain:
No shadows of them can I trace.
I watch her now, high on my perch,
A gleaming eye behind her wall.
She doesn’t know that I’m still here
Or that her master soon will call.


Automatically generated
Turns of events
Conspire with the plans
To illuminate paths, foreward and aft.

The anticipation of resistance goes unmet;
The stockpile of weaponry lies untouched,
And defensive postures slowly relax.

Is there purpose in a life where one dares not strive?
Is it truly sufficient to merely survive?


Despair lurks,
deep within,
in the remote places of the heart,
waiting and biding

It arises,
When doubt gnaws,
dripping irrevernce contempt,
sneering and mocking.

Overwhelms me in a second
laughing merrily,
it shatters me like fragile glass
and darken which illuminates my days.

Crumbling onto the ground,
I gather,
the thousand broken pieces of myself,
each shard a razor piece.

But I turn and see,
the sun rises,
a new dawn over the same world.
And know that I survive.

Crowbar of Irony +3

Gather ‘round, children, and you will learn
of Harriet Tubman’s long sojourn.
From field of labor and rattle of chain
to the north, and freedom she guided her train.

On the Underground Railroad Tubman led
dozens of people, to whom she oft said,
“Do as I say, if you want to survive.
And no one turns back! Trust me for I’ve
helped plenty before you. I’ve barely begun!
Plenty before you – and never lost one.”

“Moses” they called her, for guiding her flock.
Through “deserts of danger” these “Israelites” walked.
No bloodhound or sheriff detected the group
As up towards the Mason-and-Dixon they’d troop.

Great northern star, illuminate the path
to freedom and hope, and away from the wrath
of men who should see when they look in our face
not a slave, but a member of the human race.


I stop for a moment, and hope that it hasn’t heard me
some gravel beneath my bare feet just shifted, so small a sound,
yet even that, I know, might give me away
for there is a monster down here somewhere.
My sword, concealed from the guards earlier, is a welcome weight in my hand
and the string slowly unwinds from the ball, to be lost behind me in the darkness
as I walk forward, always down, neither right nor left
just as the king’s daughter, loving tears in her eyes, earlier told me;
'twas the lesson Daedalus taught her, bestowed upon me in turn, a blessing unlooked-for.
Now remember, said she: forward, always down, neither right nor left.
There are a few torches along the wall to illuminate the way.
Will I survive? No one else has; I tread where only the dead have trod before;
the young dead of Athens, and that which slew them, yet still I walk
forward, always down, neither right nor left.
I must be closer now, or am I? I wish I knew, but still
forward, always down, neither right nor left.

Wait! I hear it now, its soft breathing, or does it snore?
I clench the sword even tighter, my knuckles aching
forward, always down, neither right nor left.
I am in the presence of a great death, and its sly herald, fear, but I ignore them
for a grim purpose drives me deeper, ever deeper into the dark.
Now there it is, O gods, the horns, the teeth, the sinews of its arms - it wakes, it rises!
I rush at it, and with a cry bring down my sword,
hoping for glory and, ere long, Ariadne’s sweet kiss,
both won with a grisly trophy that reveals my triumph to all.

Elendil’s Heir

Philosophy thrives. To illuminate:
A cow that was mad liked to ruminate…
“For now, I survive.
Come my turn, though (no jive!),
I’ll love being what some poor human ate”.


We stood there, us three,
eyes cast in the distance
searching through the darkness
knowing nothing could survive
in an ocean so tempest-tossed.

They went to get the herring,
they went to get the cod,
and now we played the waiting game
like our grandmothers before us.

The wind, keening like a banshee,
blew needles of rain at our eyes
and an occasional bolt of lightning
flashed to illuminate
the great black unknown.

Our sou’westers flapped, brims snapping,
our capes blew up about us,
an unearthly appearance
it gave us
on the shore of this raging Styx.

They went to get the herring,
they went to get the cod,
and now we played the waiting game
like our grandmothers before us.

And then, in the distance,
all at once, six eyes discover
navigational lights that turn
towards shore
heading for home and relief.

In Winnipeg

I’m not the daytime talk show kind of girl.
I think Dr. Phil is a quack,
and I’m not ashamed to mention
that Martha makes me feel
like the least domestic wife
in the world. But once,
as I listlessly flipped the channels,
I heard Oprah say,

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

What can I learn –
what did
I learn from the pain
he inflicted, the fear
she instilled, the damage
I caused? What lessons
can be found in abuse,
torment and drugs?

How did I survive?

In many ways, I’m still in the dark,
trying to illuminate my way
with shadows from the past.
I haven’t come up with many answers
so far,
but if I survived Oprah’s insight
infiltrating my brain, I must
be on my way
to turning those wounds
into wisdom.


Obdurate rocks strain and push
Against each other, caught together
Like locked combatants, continents
Contesting for space, until one must turn.

Then: what took ten thousand years and
An act of God to join, a marriage
Of slate and basalt, becomes a tumult
Of cinder and ash in a fiery moment.

Sulfurous flame and smoke illuminate
And darken the sky; in space a
Angry ring of smoke fills the lens,
A vast exclamation in a sea of blue.

The world can pause even as it spins;
Our sight can dim even as the sky grows bright.
Beneath us the ground can shake, even as it is firm;
What happens there is also happening here.

Our memory will survive the event, even as
Beneath the lens the sky returns to blue.
But underground rocks will still strain and push,
Caught together like locked combatants…


They survive in the woods –
The ones who were lost,
The ones who were good,
Alone with the frost.

The frost is a warning,
A turn of the wheel,
A promise of warming,
When warming was real.

It whispers like winter.
It wanders like snow.
The frost is a splinter
With nowhere to go.

The splinters of loss
Illuminate the past –
A tracery of frost
On the dark window glass.

The glass that was broken
To let in the wind,
And words that were spoken
When all was pretend.

We call to them walking
In the woods where they go.
But they can’t hear us talking.
They just hear the snow.

The Hamster King

Wow. Theseus, in Darkness is epic!

Crud. I accidentally didn’t vote for “Depths”. I was being nitpicky, but it’s better than at least one of the others I did vote for.

And now to cover the 6 (including “Depths”) that I voted for. (I’d have preferred a hard limit. It’s easier to let a good but not great poem go if you know you have a limit.)

“Sunset at Sea” gets the nod for its well-constructed line breaks and simple imagery. Unfortunately, it’s almost too simple: I’d have like a metaphor or simile. But still a good job evoking the narrative.

“Crom’s Lament” gets it for those last two lines. Both profound and perfectly rhythmically balanced. The rest of the poem is not as technically good. I had orignally thought it lower, but having actually looked up who Crom is, I think the sentiment is quite deep. I’ve went through so many possible interpretations that I dare not say until I get the author’s take.

“Depths” mostly gets it for the narrative. I really like the first two stanzas, but I think it loses a bit of cohesion on the last part. I think it could be tweaked to be a little bit better. Oh, and I like the razor image with depression.

“Harriet Tubman” is an odd one. Honestly, it feels more like a song, perhaps even a Negro Spiritual. The rhythm is perfect. Unfortunately, both of these get messed up by the six-line stanza. But I couldn’t let a poem that captured that feel go without voting for it.

“Eyjafjallajokull” was actually the first one I picked. I love the anthropomorphism of the volcano. The imagery and metaphor was just great. The only thing I can come up with wrong with it is that I’d’ve liked the callback at the end to be a little more explicit. But definitely an awesome job.

But I can’t leave out “Among Winter Trees.” It feels like a professional poem. It has the characteristics of some poet (My mind wants to say Frost, but I know that’s just because it likes plays on words.) I actually felt a slight winter chill when reading it. Apply everything I said about “Eyjafjallajokull.” It’s hard for me to decide which I liked better.

If I was forced to rank, I’d put the above in the following order (least to greatest):
“Tubman”, “Depth”, “Sunset”, “Crom’s”, “Eyja”, “Winter”(as mentioned above, the last two may be swapped)

Hoorah! More poems to vote for–and no longer tied to only one. I’ll be interested to see how the multi-vote option works out this time around.

Oh, and Le Ministre, in the interest of keeping the poems anonymous until the spoiler box is clicked, you might want to consider not always posting yours first. :stuck_out_tongue:

I love writing the poems, and then always cringe after I read everyone else’s. It’s like seeing your work up on the school bulletin board and being so happy - and then looking around and wanting to take yours down and hide it after realizing what amazing creations others have wrought.

Another good month! As a serial lurker, I thoroughly enjoy reading and voting for the poems each month. Maybe I’ll write something next month. Then again, I say that every month.

Shot From Guns - That’s a good point. I keep posting these in the order in which they’re received so I don’t miss one, but maybe I should go in alphabetical order of title or reverse order so that mine comes in the middle or last. Mine’s always first chronologically because I have to write mine as soon as I’ve got the words…

A great batch this time around! My votes are in.

First time I"ve read these. Amazing how poets who have a submission quite often think to themselves “wow! The others wrote poems so much better than what I did.”

Looking them over, they’re all a century ahead of what I could produce.