Much of my poetry which is not celebratory in nature deals with my inner demons. There are things I can say or weep in verse that have never crossed my tongue.

Phoenix of the Glacier
by Kylyssa Shay

Dropped by a glacier,
a terminal moraine
begins where cold ended
where vast crests of ice
came to die
and dropped their stony load,
now covered with soil
a rocky cairn for times long gone.
A battered farmhouse sits on that hill
paint peels and broken windows gape,
its decomposing carcass
where my childhood came to die.
A skeleton stripped of meaning,
a splintering wooden fossil
buried by time so shallow yet so viscous
it is now innocent in its post-senescence.

I am not.

I am a dirty phoenix,
the frost of the glaciers reborn.
The iceberg's gravel armors me
as tender skin could not
proof against the feverish, sweaty hands
of a ghost whose corpse has yet to die,
proof against his stifling weight
atop my childish form
which is nothing
compared to lying beneath ice
that endured for fifty thousand years or more.
If I could live a thousand lifetimes
perhaps the ice I have become might melt,
leaving only the strength of stones.

The Inside Void and the Written Line
by Kylyssa Shay

A gaping chasm
shaped exactly like me
clings closer than a shadow.
Too many touches,
too many sweaty fumblings
as I helplessly cried.
A sucking void exists
where a little girl should be.

I caught a glimpse
of something in the mirror
that I don't want to kill.
For an instant
a terrified child
stared out of my reflection.

Words pour from my fingers
like pus from a septic wound
as I press harder
against the ragged,
broken parts of my self.
I drain the infection
and vomit the poison
that took residence
in my mind,
transform it into art -
black and white marks
on a screen.
My own words
laid end to end
form a lifeline
I extend to the little girl
I thought I saw in the mirror.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for posting these. Personally, I don't think these are as strong as some of your others. The first one leaves me a little bewlidered. There is a awful lot of imagry sort of jumbled together in the first one, and I think a simpler, stronger thematic mood might make it flow better. I would try this: Write the poem over and over again with as many different variations as you can and then see what works and what doesn't.

I would also be careful about words like moraine, that most people will find unfamiliar. And to me, "post-senescence" seems awkward.

In the second poem, consider this: In the second stanza, put the "terrified child" part before the "mirror...don't want to kill" part. But instead of "kill", consider using "lose". Are you afraid that you will feel hostile towards it, and kill it? Or are you afraid of its loss, or dissolusion?

Hope my critique doesn't offend!
I appreciate critiques.

In the first poem, the moraine describes the hill the old farmhouse sits on. That was the inspiration for the poem and the concept, that the stones, fallen from a melting glacier created a terminal moraine. The ghost (the memory) whose corpse (the still living molester) has yet to die The idea is that I, too, am a glacier and if in time I could melt the ice inside me (created by childhood molestation inside the house upon the moraine), I too could become strong as the (patient) stones from a glacier, a moraine, comparing molestation as insignificant in comparison to spending 50,000 years under a glacier. That's pretty much the theme. Any ideas of a common word that means a hill created by the deposit of stones left by a melting glacier?

In the second poem I'm trying to get across that I usually see a monster in the mirror that I want to kill but just for a second I saw a worthy person, an innocent child instead. This person (rather than the usual monster) I saw inspired me to write out my pain to try to pull that person from the mirror.

Any suggestions?
Well, I think I am opposed to the word "morain" because it would be unfamiliar to most readers. My vocabulary is pretty good, but I did not know it. If you want to say "a hill created by the deposit of stones left by a melting glacier", then why not just say it, poetically? Why not describe that process? I actually think that that could be a beautiful and poetic description, and perhaps even more poignant than the word morain would or could be. Does that make sense?

I actually understand that stanza in the second poem better know that you have explained it. I did not see the connection between the sentences, but rather a disconnection. However, I think what I said above still applies to the second poem as well. You just wrote "I usually see a monster in the mirror that I want to kill but just for a second I saw a worthy person", and quite honestly, that was rather poetic itself, and something with which I, the reader, could easily identify. Who has not looked in the mirror and not loved and/or hated what they have seen at some point in time. I didn't get that the first time.
I really enjoyed the description of a terminal moraine. It es a perfect descdription of Rt20 and Rt84 in NE Ohio.
I agree with Cyberguy to a degree. A genuine, emotive sense is critical to a poem. However, I do not hold to the idea that that simply means that the first draft is always the best. (Not to imply these are your first drafts.) I am simply trying to point out two things: 1.) poems can be written and rewritten without necessariy loosing their sincerity. I do think they are and can be "amenable to manipulation", because that is what language is about: manipulating perception. When you express words in speech or writing you are manipulating the thoughts, ideas, and emotions of other people. You are reaching out through space and time and actually putting thoughts into other people's heads. That is the power of language. So I think that it is always amenable to manipulation. And 2.) Simplicity and clarity are also important. If a poem is too vague or enigmatic, the reader can loose the impact of its meaning. Sure, we might be able to understand that "something" is going on, but we might not understand what that "something" is.

Thomas Paine wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls." Wow! A very powerful, moving, and famous line. But what if he had written, "Times like these are very trying to men's souls." or "For the soul, these are very trying times."? Both sentences express the same idea, but in no way convey the beauty and power of the original quote. So, for some mysterious reason, the original quote resonates in the minds and souls of men (and history) better than the other two. Why? Because of HOW it was written.

Thanks for your contribution to this discussion, btw. It's fun to exchange ideas like this.
Very powerful work. Don't be afraid of an unfamiliar word now and again. It prevents the reader from gliding too easily over the surface of a poem, if you'll excuse the metaphor. It seemed apt. It's often possible to polish a good poem, improving it with minor changes, but sometimes the spontaneous is best. Look at it again in a few weeks and see what you think: bullseye or not? I think it's damn close.


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