Fighting a Day Full of Empty
This is a day full of empty.
I do not even hear echoes of
the fullness of its older, sister days;
Yea, strangely, even the
yester sisters are silent.
Stuffy and stifling, gray as a pale blank sky,
I am stuck in the blankness.
Sterile, still and stale, this is a sun starved day—
without style, without strength, stagnant.
This day is anemic.
Boneless and bloodless,
it's just a blob of barely
And I. Am. Not. Satisfied!!
I must drill deep for a lusty blood!
I must kill sleep for a gusty flood!
I must focus on raising the dead!
No hocus pocus, I’m blazing ahead!
Show me a star or a storm,
something strident or steamy,
show me a scar that’s been torn,
something bright red and gleaming.
Show me a red-blooded American child,
throw me a dread flooded pelican riled,
blow me a lead studded, elegant smile.
Show me life and death in the power of the tongue,
show me strife and breath in the hour we’ve outrun.
This day is placid and flaccid, like a limp balloon.
Show me acid and asses of chimps and baboons!
Paint me a rainbow in fluorescent hues–
taint me a stain blown in shore pleasant blues.
Tear an epic out of blank pages!
Scare a heretic out of dank cages.
Scream at the very top of your lungs,
sing at the merry swap of your tongues!
Give all of your strength to tap this day’s soul!
Live tall on the brink of the gap that slays trolls.
Do the unthinkable, outlive the fray,
eschew the unsinkable, shout to the day!
Never submit to the slow crawl of death—
endeavor to split the flow of all breath.
Grab the side that keeps you alive,
stab the guide who sleeps while you strive!
Be violent if this is what saves you from sleep,
be silent if kisses caught wave you to weep.
Spout your art, spew it into the grey!
Shout your heart, imbue it into the day!
Let the dead bury the dead!
Get the unwed to marry instead!
Let the dirge turn into play,
let the urge burn into the day!
Declare open season into the dark,
repair hope and reason, pin to the mark.
Unleash your mind with glee on the blankness,
a pastiche inclined to freedom and frankness!
Capture the emptiness, rewrite the creed.
Rapture, redemption, revising, proceed.
End with a day that screams with emotion—
Mended, it sprays and teams like an ocean!
Wow, lots of stuff here that I'm still trying to digest (I think in general that's a good sign though). I like the title and first line, but it almost seems like you have two poems whose styles don't quite match. Everything down to the excellent "And I. Am. Not. Satisfied!!" reads one way, then the longer second part reads differently. I can see you're really trying to rev things up in the second part, but a lot of the language is kind of abstract. Occasionally some vivid images peek through (asses of primates) and I like the "Get the unwed..." line (although not sure what it means here). Some redundancies maybe: for example, if you just say "This day is a limp balloon" you can drop placid and flaccid.
Because of its length I fear the protest begins to sort of repeat itself.
I think rhyme works better with regular meter. You have some good stretches of metered lines, then a line where I stumbled in my reading. Have you read this aloud? Try recording yourself reading it into your phone or computer and then playing it back. Any place where you kind of falter or hesitate would probably be a good place to smooth out the meter.
I like poems that are kind of protesting against the human condition, as it were, and our own helplessness in the face of it. I'm thinking here of famous poems like "Prufrock" or Plath's "Lazy Lazarus". You're probably familiar with those already but maybe a review of the precise, targeted language of those poems would be useful.
Phil, thank you so much for all of these thoughts. I did kind of want it to sound like two different poems, or at least two different tones, to show the shift from passivity to taking life by the horns, as it were, but I hear you; it may be too much disparity. Maybe I can make two different poems out of this. And I especially hear you about the meter. I am playing with a form I believe to be relatively unique, trying to get 4 - 6 rhymes into every couplet or half couplet. This necessarily produces some very abstract images and perhaps some of them need to be switched out. Reading aloud/recording is a great idea! Thank you for that. I am actually not familiar with Prufrock, Plath's Lady Lazarus, so I shall rectify that deficiency in my education forthwith. (: Again, thank you so much for your thoughts! Wonderful feedback that I will definitely attend to as I rewrite!
If you’re stuck on how to proceed with editing and revising your poem, you might want to review Rob Mackenzie’s list of editing rules. You don’t necessarily have to agree with all of them; rather, just use them as he suggests as an “early warning system”.
I started writing up some suggestions for you, but everything was lost when this site’s editor hiccuped, so let me just start over by focusing only on the first 5 lines. If you’re still interested, I’ll try to write a little more about the rest at a later time.
First line good, then you expand on it to show how it’s empty, good idea. But then “sister days”: I assume these are similar empty days. If so, then isn’t “fullness” kind of redundant? And how can empty days echo anything? Or does that mean these days were not empty, but full of noise and activity? If so, then it seems like you’ve created a problem for the reader with “fullness” since you used “full” to describe the empty day.
Note you might be able to shorten this by saying succinctly “I do not even hear echoes of its older sisters” or something like that, although you still have the problem of communicating to the reader whether it’s the echo of emptiness or echo of activity.
“Yea” - do you mean that or “yeah”? If “yea”, then you ought to be able to substitute “indeed” without much change in meaning.
“strangely” - why? don’t tell us, let the words suggest that this situation is strange, maybe unexpected.
“yester sisters” - all days are past or “yester”, so how how are these different from the other days? Maybe more recent or “younger”?
Probably one of the toughest things in writing poetry is determining whether what you’ve written is the same as what you have in your head. The reader only knows what you’re written. That’s probably why setting a poem aside for a time is useful - when you come back to it you’re now more like a reader of your own work than its author and can be more objective. Don’t worry, everyone struggles with this.
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You may have noticed the new link in the menu bar: “Poet’s Cafe”. Seeing that Vita Brevis has amassed such a large poetry community, I figured it was best to give everyone a place to call home!
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You’ll notice that there are three sections at the Poet’s Cafe: Poetry Swap is where you can self-publish your work and receive feedback from the community–but also where you can give feedback to others (hence the “swap”). Get Published is where you can find new publication opportunities like contests and magazines to submit to–and where you can leave “leads” for your fellow poets. Finally, What to Read is where you can promote your poems, chapbooks, and blogs, talk about great reads by others, or just
*Update: There’s now a “Cafe Conversations” section where you can leave useful insights and advice for poets*
It also features a “reputation” system, so the more active you are in the poetry community, (by making posts and replying to others), the higher your reputation score, ranking you up. This lets other members see how influential you are at the Cafe, and it will let you know if someone is brand new, so you can give them any help they might need.
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About Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine
What’s Vita Brevis?
Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine is much more than a publication. It has its own built-in poetry community called The Poet’s Cafe, plenty of great articles about publishing poetry and interviews with poets, and countless contest and publication opportunities for emerging and established poets.
All-in-all, it’s the ultimate resource for poets!
Founder & Editor
I’m studying to become a psychotherapist, but in my free time, I’m an avid reader, researcher, and writer. Besides managing Vita Brevis, I’m working on a new magazine called Mental Life, which merges philosophy and psychology into personal-development articles.