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Poetry Magnum Opus



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Deftly, calmly in death I can still protest.

I can answer the prayers made while alive.

Apathetic angels caught by war's unrest

paradise is bare on earth firestarters thrive.

On earth heaven haunted me now earth haunts

me in heaven. I miss the lost the wind

and homeless. In combat I heard the taunts

from angels that boasted of a God blind

to human miracles. Light arrives from eyes

demanding the return of souls buoyed on

Christly tears and grieving relatives will surmise

about earthly demise and names on gravestones.

Someone somewhere dreams of me in battle

I am kept awake by the sound of death's rattle.

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I liked it,

"On earth heaven haunted me now earth haunts me in heaven" is one of those funny lines where even without the "in heaven", the assumption is that the last part of the line is talking about being in heaven and thinking of the earth instead, but, at the same time it's almost naked without the implementation of the obv. insinuation.


"Unbearable, isn't it? The suffering of strangers, the agony of friends.

There is a secret song at the center of the world, Joey, and its sound is like razors through flesh."


"I don't believe you."


"Oh come, you can hear its faint echo right now. I'm here to turn up the volume.

To press the stinking face of humanity into the dark blood of its own secret heart."

"There's a starving beast inside my chest
playing with me until he's bored
Then, slowly burying his tusks in my flesh
crawling his way out he rips open old wounds

When I reach for the knife placed on the bedside table
its blade reflects my determined face
to plant it in my chest
and carve a hole so deep it snaps my veins

Hollow me out, I want to feel empty"
-- "Being Able To Feel Nothing" by Oathbreaker


"Sky turns to a deeper grey

the sun fades by the moon

hell's come from the distant hills

tortures dreams of the doomed

and they pray, yet they prey

and they pray, still they prey"
-- "Still They Prey" by Cough


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"On earth heaven haunted me now earth haunts

me in heaven."


Agree. Powerful line.

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David W. Parsley

Another step on the road to sonnet mastery, Barry. This particular sonnet is the first to contain your full-blown orginality of thought development and magnitude of theme - a happy marriage signaling onset of full maturity in the Shakespearean form. The concept of light coming from eyes is a profound, multi-level metaphor that is peculiarly arresting, instantiating the experience of reversal in the transformed reality, a brilliant stroke.


Only the 'alive-thrive' combination could be considered a "formula" rhyme pair; all others are fresh and insightful (completely unique working pairs are not to be found nowadays). I actually consider the 'eyes-surmise' pairing here better than any seen since one gifted young man who discovered the demesne of Homer through an unusually fine translation by Chapman.


No vain repetitions. Again. The instruments are well tuned of any tinniness - only music remains.


A few quibbles with punctuation decisions. Rhythm stumbles a couple times. Perhaps it could be further improved, but what couldn't? This is a legacy quality piece.


Well Done,

- Dave

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David W. Parsley

Feedback and readership on the site appear to be at ebbtide right now, Barry. I suspsect a few of the "usual suspects" are preoccupied with personal and/or business matters right now. At least one of those folks has shown a recent proclivity for coming in and rattling off a litany of valued comments in a big rush. With the holidays approaching, we should probably expect more of that, from more folk.


Since you asked, I will say I continue to be surprised by the poems that are not selected for popularity. It is gratifying to see a highly imaginative, expansive, profound poem like "streams" receive due appreciation with attendant number of hits. But what of "seashell" or "road" or "television" or "mania"? And other poems that I consider to be among the best published here or anywhere else in the last year or so ("Romeo and Juliet in London, NW10" and "Portage" and "The Blood Blade" and "The Well of Memory" come quickly to mind)? And getting downright personal, while I thoroughly enjoyed the active, acutely appreciative, and insightful dialogue that sprung up around "What the Future Dares", I confess to a devastation of the ego from the relatively small number of hits (yes, silly me, I hoped it might actually go viral, not the spare 158 to date) and the lack of commentary from poets who also have touched upon some of its themes. Thus received, the great poetic production of my life to date. :unsure:


I suppose we just have to find sufficient value in the comments that DO come, and write for those resonant souls. Souls like yours. Please keep up the fine work. We'll all get resurrected someday and held up as the great poets of our time, remembered as the Poetry Magnum Opus Group. Keep feeding those PhD dissertations of the future, okay?


Best Regards,

- Dave

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This is one that gets better with each read. The perspective of the N. Is unusual, even novel. We all have our reasons for composing poetry just as we all usually write about the same things, only differently. I was once critiqued elsewhere for “sitting down deliberately to write a poem.” ??? I believe the ability to write in set form is an admirable discipline to master and from what I see you are progressing very well.

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Re: Form.

There are many ways to compose poetry: from the traditional accepted forms, to the modern syllabic forms, i.e: cinquain, triquain, septolet, lune, etc. 'Free-verse' (in my view), is anything but free. I say this specifically, because normal English speech has regular patterns which undulate up and down (unlike a robotic speaking clock). This gives colour and meaning to what we say. When the imagery of what we want to say is converted into words, we stress syllables in our speech rhythmically, whether we are aware of it or not. English language 'free-versers' deliberately avoiding form, rhythmic iambs, syllabic count etc: cannot avoid stress and tone to emphasize their imagery and meaning. If this were not so, all they would have is an abstract “da-da” composition of words with line-breaks. So if the poet wishes to make lines fluent, lucid and attractive, stress and rhythm has to be considered. There are of course, those who prefer minimalist forms where the poem relies on the ability (and willingness) of a reader to decipher its meaning, rather like a cryptic crossword clue. To display knowledge, literacy, creative ability fused with a love of language however, why use just a few words. The practice of eloquence in form can transport an audience to wherever you want them to go and it's a satisfying skill well worth the effort of acquiring.

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