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385 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of Good Times  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Ah, the eternal practicality of the outdoor man. Some people will survive, whatever the circumstances.

Now this is horror - the kind that I've been attempting. This gives the shivers and the desire to get the thing out of one's mind. And you snuck up on me too! All that country air and innocent fishing and then suddenly it turns dark and unthinkable. I can't say that I like it - horror really isn't my thing - but it's so well done, I must applaud. Truly masterful writing. The story achieves exactly what it sets out to do.

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2
2
Review of Honing the Craft  
for entry "Week 2 Across the Way
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (4.5)
Being in the covid pandemic as we are, the reader will know that the mask referred to means the surgical masks we're having to wear. But I wonder how long this awareness will last. In a year's time it may be that the mask would be taken as hiding something, the more usual connotation of the word in the past. So I think it might be better to somehow make the pandemic connection clear for future readers.

I do like the question in the next line - the recognition that now we have only the eyes to convey emotion, the mask covering the rest of our faces. It's a good point that needs to be made. Distance, too, is a matter to be taken into consideration, especially when we remember that human eyesight varies so much between individuals. I can remember that, before I bought my first pair of glasses, I recognised people from a distance purely from the way they walked. Can your neighbour see that your wave is well intentioned? It's a valid question, important in the situation.

You're right that the wave is an acknowledgement, a gesture towards the other's common humanity. But now I have to get a bit picky. It may be my own prejudice against certain words overused in today's society but I feel that "relevant" has little meaning in this context. Relevant to what? I know what you're trying to say, that the neighbour has some importance in your life, but I think there are better words to express this than "relevant." It's like "awesome" - used to the point that it becomes meaningless.

But this is just be my own prejudice. I admit it - there are some words I don't like, mainly because they're used too often. It's a minor matter anyway and entirely up to you whether you want to change this particular word.

Finally, I must admit that it's interesting to see you writing in free verse after all the help you have given me in oriental form poetry! *Wink*
3
3
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is somewhat of a mayfly poem itself. It packs plenty of meaning into a very small package. And I have a lot of time (pardon the pun) for mayflies too; I wrote a 24 syllable poem about it last year but I think it went from my portfolio in one of my clear-outs. Quite ironic, I suppose.

But to your poem! Excellent contrast of viewpoints in the first two lines, the ephemeral quality of a mayfly's life and yet the infinite and eternal appearance it presents to the creature. And this is the point: how can we compare our three score years and ten with the single day of a mayfly? Who is to say that one is better than the other, that the same amount of living is not packed into both lives? I have to digress here again to mention the long short story I wrote to discuss this very point, Accelerate. As onlookers, we click our tongues at the apparent waste of a life accelerated by a drug, yet how can we say that the speeded up life is not just as long to the one who experiences it? It's a thought worth considering and your poem points directly at it with the realisation that we may not be as superior as we think. Absolutely spot on!

The construction of the poem, too, is excellent, using simple words that we all understand but wringing extra meaning from them by their positioning and relationship to their surrounding words. This is true poetry, when the sum is greater than the parts.

So I applaud you - this is both what I call a head poem, requiring thoughtful participation by the reader (and several readings to watch the meaning grow for a first, simple understanding), and a feeling poem, where our emotions are engaged by the mention and comparison of our own fate. Truly excellent stuff!

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Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
A great circle of a poem taking us from prehistory and ice age adapted animals to the present day when man seeks oil in the frozen earth and mammoth tusks buried for eons. What a panoramic view has accomplished this broad and insightful poem, with one bright image after another leading us through the depths of time.

Perfect in flow and rhyme, I cannot fault the technique either. This is a fitting epitaph for the mighty mammoths in their last resting place and an appeal to leave them be. A veritable tour de force of verse and a natural history lesson too. Wonderful stuff!

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
for entry "Week 4 - W/E 6/28/20
Review by Beholden
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
One thing occurs to me: on a zebra crossing, wouldn't a zebra just disappear? Camouflage and all that, you know.

But it's a nice British take on an American setting (how d'you make a crosswalk with a stick? Whack someone really hard on the behind with it). Plus, it's a cry for fairness to zebras, which can't be bad. Of course, not being a form poet myself, I'll take your word on the common measure thing but I can tell that it flows well. The rhyming is not obtrusive but it has importance for continuance of the flow, I think, as well as the light-hearted tone. Altogether, it's a very competent poem and I can't fault it.

Great work!

Beholden
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Review of Change  
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (5.0)
That looks like a Candid Camera trick to me - I'd have avoided that note at all costs.

But this is a clever poem, with flashes of insight that speak to us all. The supreme moment, the flash of genius is in the lines,
"My feet do not miss a step
but my brain stumbles and spends a suspended second."
Exactly, precisely! That moment when the body takes over through habit while the brain has to stop and gawp. I love it.

Then the detail of the note's appearance, Ben Franklin making it clear that this is not just a dollar we're considering here. The raised eyebrow is another of those flashes that speaks to our common humanity. 'Tis all clever stuff and digging down deep into our psyche, yet with added humour that keeps things in perspective.

It's a tour de force, Roland.
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for entry "Nana
Review by Beholden
Rated: E | (5.0)
I really wanted to review A Crow's Just a Punk in a Black Feather Jacket for the wonderful title alone but Nana proved far too delicious for me to leave it alone. So it gets the nod.

And what a tour de force it is! From the assemblage of vivid images, like a flashing, flickering old time movie, the steady pace through the telling, to the weaving (knitting?) of sound through the words, everything works to bring us, spellbound, to the end. I'm English and so don't cry but you came close with those last few lines about your Nana.

All poems need to be read aloud but not to do so with this one would be a crime. In sound and meaning you resurrect the old lady for us to love as you do. Tick tock indeed.

This is what poetry is all about. Bows.
8
8
for entry "Week 3.
Review by Beholden
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I like that you have written about a moment and no longer. There are times, usually very short, that have their own atmosphere and presence. And this poem is about one of those, that watershed of the dark hours, midnight.

Too often we make the mistake of trying to describe half the world in a poem. But it's the small things, the moments of insight, the disregarded jewel underfoot that convey a whole world in their essence. Your poem does exactly this, gathering the stillness into one powerful line.

Just one thing troubles me slightly - the matter of place. You begin by turning and that, in my mind's eye, puts you standing in the moonlight. But at the end you are lying. I suppose it's possible to turn while lying but it did confuse me for a second or two. My inclination would probably be to avoid the issue of place entirely. Does it matter whether you were standing or lying, after all?

Excellent poem, even so.
9
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Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I like to find out a little about people who throw awards at me unexpectedly and so I find myself in your portfolio, looking for something to review as some form of thanks for the awardicon. I read the first poem in the list, the one about winter, and am immediately wowed at its quality. This must surely be the one to review, I think, especially as its so recent.

But before that, I should know more. I read the Shakespeare one, curious to see how close you get. And I'm bowled over. This could be the great one himself, writing in our strange present. Now I really have to know more and I press on through piece after piece of outstanding quality. And now I'm here in your Observing Daybreak's Magnificence, prose-poetry of the highest quality. I am reminded of Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept - they share an intensity of vision and experience.

So this is in the nature of my process of being wowed, rather than a proper review. these works are far too good for me to make my silly comments on. I just love reading them and enjoying their effortless (apparent) craftsmanship. You have five stars for what I've read so far. Thank you.

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of Bad Roses  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
To thank you for the costumicon you gave me, I have been looking for something I can review for you (not that this would be a suitably magnificent return gift but I'm not very good at magnificent). I came across this and decided that I liked it so much, I should review it, especially as everyone else doesn't like it at all, judging by the measly two stars it has from 25 reviews. Then I read the sentence at the end and realised that it was one of those "bad" contests that expects only entries trying for "bad" poetry.

You present me with a quandary (I am showered with gifts!). I can award according to my feeling for the poem, thereby ignoring your entreaty for only one star, or I can make you happy (I presume) by acceding to your wish. Of course, the contest must be long gone, since the poem was written in 2003, so it might be that I can be completely objective (and honest) in my assessment. And anyway, it seems that some have ignored your plea by pushing the average to two instead of one. Oh, mischievous fate!

I suppose this is the problem with a lot of contests - that they enforce the creation of pieces that will lose their relevance as the criteria for the contest vanish with its demise. Those occasions when I've been admonished by a reviewer for not making a poem longer, when it was written for the 24 Syllable Contest spring to mind.

In the end, I think I must review it for its own qualities, even if my implication is that the poem is better than you were aiming for. As comic verse, it succeeds in making me smile and the deliberately cracked meter adds to this. I admit that this is assuming that the aim is comic verse - it may be that the badness intended was that it is supposed to be seriously bad. But if I pursue that interpretation, things get incredibly complicated as I dither between awarding kudos for good writing that succeeds in being bad, and giving stars for badly written stuff that is, therefore, adhering to the terms of the contest. I'm going to grasp the nettle (or rose) and take it as comic verse.

In which case, I have to award the poem five (yes, five) stars for succeeding in its comic intent, with me at least. And that gives me the opportunity to write a review that might bring a smile to you as well. *Wink*

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11
11
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Delightful. The full extent and clarity of a young boy's imagination is demonstrated in so few, simple words. Yes, you fooled me, pulling me so willingly along with your description, seeing the great weight of the train, the woods and fields through which she steams (ah, there's the clue - I think all the steam trains are gone by now), until at last you let me see the boy who conjures all this from a string of paper clips.

As one man who loves the romance of steam and inspiration of paper clips, I recognise a kindred spirit. A fine poem indeed!

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Review of welcome  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This is how effective free verse can be. It's a string of vivid impressions leading us deeper into the experience of the place that you describe. I think we all must know of places like this, with a feeling of danger merging with steady progress toward the house that is the goal.

And, when we reach the house, there's a welcome in the flowers, the light from the windows and food, music and bed. Again, it's the details that paint the scene and bring it to life, leaving the reader feeling that he knows the place, has been there sometime in his life.

It's a beautifully effective poem, achieving exactly the transfer of emotion that is, surely, the aim of all poetry.

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of A Mare Visit  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I like this a lot. You have taken a difficult bunch of prompt words and woven them into an entirely believable tale that has no hint of being contrived. You draw the reader on through the development of the plot until he has to find out what happens. In short, you make the reader care.

Add to this the poetic style, where flashes of insight are strung through the narrative, bright snapshot visions of almost hallucinogenic clarity that colour the tale with presence, putting the reader right there in the unfolding story. It's heady stuff and I can find no flaws in it. Well done!

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of The Wave  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Very clever - you had me guessing (wrongly) for much of the poem. But the description of the event, which is probably common to us all, is precise and you haven't cheated by withholding information at all.

In fact, there's not a word wasted anywhere. And your impulse to shout a warning, though too late as it always is in this situation, is to be commended.

I don't recognise the contest for which it was written and must presume that it was prior to my time in WdC. But your effort certainly seems worthy of a place at the very least. I hope it gained one.

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Roommates Forever  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
I know that feeling but, usually, I rip the guts out of the story to get it down to 300 words.

It's a good story, hiding the Jekyll and Hyde personality thing until the very last line. And I do agree with you - that it would ruin the story to reduce it by 200 words. Actually, it may even be improved by some expansion beyond 500, so that the two personalities can be further developed. In these last minute reveals, it's always good to let the reader have plenty of detail to distract them from their imminent surprise.

Sound writing, of course, and good pace. An enjoyable read.

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I like this. And now I'm trying to work out why your three reviewers managed only four stars as an average. What on earth did they see that was wrong? I couldn't see anything. Maybe they just didn't like the thought of a dead child. But that's life - full of unfortunate occurrences. Oh well.

Your telling of the story is very clever, with the mounting panic as the child fails to appear. The end caught me unsuspecting, exactly as intended. The writing is without fault and interest is held right to the end. So why that missing star? I can only attempt to fix it by giving you five. Thanks for an excellent read.

Oh, and keep writing, as they say around here.

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Longevity  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Good story enhanced by the development of Syed's personal history and the weaving of the present with the past. Beautifully written with a subtle touch and great sensitivity. It seems odd to find all this in a horror story and yet it works with the mood to heighten the drama. All the way to the end I was wondering whether you'd allow Syed to escape. It was a pleasant surprise (although perhaps not so much for him) that he did. We do love a happy ending, after all.

I can find absolutely nothing to suggest in the way of improvement (I especially love the way you allow the reader to work with you in developing Syed's picture of the past). It has to be five stars.

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Review of Fair Reaction  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I don't normally bother with shaped poetry but this one proved so good that I could ignore its strange (and apparently pointless) shape. In real life or in literature, there is nothing so effective as being able to laugh at oneself and this piece is fully aware of the humour in its annoyance at the cancellation of a craft fair. Sheer genius crafted this elegant and honest self dissection. I can even forgive that it mentions covid19, the subject I am so heartily sick of (metaphorically, I mean - I don't think I've got it).

It seems that no one has dared rate this so far. I'll fix that and give it what it deserves - a full five stars. Thanks for a great read. *Smile*

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
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Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
A long time ago I had a friend who had spent some time in New Zealand. For a time he was in Hokitika which he claimed was the wettest place on earth. That may have been hyperbole but I got the point. And, as I was reading your Haiku (something I don't often do - I rarely get along with haikus), I realised that it might need an explanation for readers. It's not about snow, it's rain in New Zealand. Here in the northern hemisphere, say winter and everyone thinks immediately of snow. But I lived twenty-seven years in Africa where it never snowed so I know what it is to think of a season we defined as "the rainy season."

Apart from that incidental thought, I love the haiku. "Synonyms for wet" indeed - sometimes there aren't enough of them. But it's that final line that might need the note. The refrain is the raindrops - snow is silent. I'm not criticising. It's actually a strength of the poem that it is so expressive of its setting. My thought was just to make ignorant northerners realise it more. *Wink*

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20
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Review of Crafty Thief  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I love it - you made me laugh! I mean out loud. That's a once in a decade event. Smiles, yes, but an actual laugh, that needs something special.

It's a clever thing, your poem. Lulls the reader with it's well worn scenario and rollicking rhythm but then sneaks behind him near the end, before leaping out with an unexpected catch phrase at the end. Brilliantly done!

Thanks indeed for a most enjoyable read at the end of a long day. Had a quick read of your portfolio too. Pretty impressed (I love Abandoned Piano). Keep up the good work.

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Review of Black  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I really love this evocation of Africa with its bright, vivid metaphors and descriptions. There was one thing that gave me pause, however. In all my twenty-seven years in Africa, I don't recall ever seeing a raven. Crows, yes, but never a raven. But I did my research and you're quite right. The white-necked raven is found in all the areas of Africa that I know. Clearly, I was not being observant at the time.

So, in the end, this adds even more to my enjoyment of your poem. I learned something as well! Those descriptions are very accurate and bring the sights and sounds of Africa again to me. especially those "of budding acacias,
umbrellas
over weary elephants."

Wonderful work. Thank you for taking me back.

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22
22
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I like this. A lot. Some might quibble over the fact that it's not really a short story but I'm interested in reading good writing, whatever its genre or intent. And this is an excellent portrayal of an aged character pondering on his life.

After I read this piece, I had a look at your portfolio and was a little surprised at how little you have added to it. You've been a member for longer than I have and I was expecting quite a collection of writing, to be honest. Of course, I don't know what limitations you have in time and opportunity to write so I'm not criticising. Indeed, it may be that you don't post everything you write in WdC. Let me encourage you to show us more. You have a natural flair and ability to write that deserves a greater readership.

Or maybe I'm just being selfish. I want to read more!

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23
23
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
As a great fan of the dandelion, I had to respond to this little gem. It's the dogged persistence of the dandelion that I admire, that it invades the lawns of the home owners and is almost impossible to uproot. Add its pretty flower and its wonderful seedhead and I am surprised that we don't surrender and just have lawns of dandelions.

Your piece is well written, precise and to the point. I'm supposed to make suggestions for improvement but I really can't think of any. Well done and keep writing!

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Review of The Handkerchief  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
I must tackle that statement, "Not a poem," since there are a couple of indicators that, actually, it is. The fact that it is written in lines that look very much like verses set the scene and then the capital letter given to the word "gently," following a comma tends to confirm that impression. If you're serious about the piece not being poetry, it may be necessary to change these indicators.

The form of 50 words exactly is much to my liking and I wish the contest was still going. There are similar ones (Tweet Me a Story for instance) but nothing quite as abbreviated as this. I was involved in one that closed recently, 24 Syllables, but that was poetry rather than prose.

Your piece fits the purpose of the contest very accurately, I think, since it includes a wealth of detail and food for thought within those few words. The contrast between the tramp's gnarled hands and the ethereal handkerchief is particularly eloquent (quite poetic in fact) and the reader is struck by the meeting of two worlds, the light, airy world of the handkerchief and the sad, despairing tramp that reaches to bring something of beauty into his world. It is most fitting that, in spite of the denial from the policeman, the world of beauty reaches out in turn to the tramp, the handkerchief landing on his boot as if wanting to stay with him.

And that final sentence is where there may be need of more accuracy. The phrase, "As he shuffled off," seems to relate to the policeman since he is mentioned immediately beforehand. Some doubt on this is cast by the word "shuffle" as coppers do not usually shuffle along. But doubt returns with the inroduction of a boot to catch the handkerchief. Cops may not shuffle but tramps rarely have the means to wear boots.

These are easy to fix, however, and it should not prove too difficult to rephrase within the 50 word limitation. The piece is excellent, providing much for the reader to ponder and, perhaps, even to return to read again. Most enjoyable (and yes, I did read it several times to catch all the nuances).

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25
25
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
All this and I learn what an AU is into the bargain. I can hardly complain after that, can I?

There really is nothing to complain about in this pretty little piece. It progresses smartly with a glint in its eye from the very first sentence and never fails to amuse and delight the reader. What an exceptionally light and subtle touch you have as a writer.

The piece is billed as Relationship and Romance/Love and it achieves exactly that, giving us a glimpse into lives that are much closer to reality than the usual run of things in this genre. I love it.

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