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26
26
Review of A Haiku  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Lj,

This is one great poem. It's almost a great haiku. But I'm being picky. It's beautiful and profound, no matter how one slices it. *Smile*

That said, however, aesthetics are important also. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but some of us (fanatics) sometimes judge prose and poetry by how they look on the page.

I've sometimes changed the wording of a story or poem, if I can do so without ruining it, solely because they "sat" on the page in a more uniformly attractive way. Even text can be art, and often is.

What I would suggest with respect to this wonderful, intellectually stimulating piece, is to drop all punctuation. All of it. Every single jot and tittle. I wouldn't even capitalize the first letter of each sentence.

Haikus are a kind of purity of thought; I've always enjoyed them, especially when they're really well done. And this one certainly is. But could it be better without changing it? Can we distill it down even more and not only retain its power, but enhance it?

Yes. In my never-to-be-humble opinion. *Smile*

I want to see this "clean" with absolutely no distractions that divert me from the awesome strength of the words alone. Too often, I think, good writers tend to muck up their otherwise brilliant poems with ill-advised punctuation. And while things are not that serious in this instance, we have a chance to go for the gold and convert something already good into something truly great.

I hope you consider submitting this to any number of contests or whatever. If there's a national or international haiku contest, this is definitely a potential winner.

Well done. Truly. And don't be shy; go for it. *Smile*

Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
27
27
Review of Sisterly Chat  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi, Arakun,

I found this little ditty to be a charming and original take on the classical theme of angels and devils. A good deal of humor also permeates the piece like dashes of salt or pepper on a burger or salad. *Smile*

Despite its sacrilegious tone, namely that Heaven is boring, or that both sisters seem detached and independent of their circumstances, the piece is written well enough that we can temporarily suspend our objections or criticisms and just go along for the ride, so to speak.

Although I liked the ending, I did wonder what the sisters imagined a welcomed retirement to be, if neither Heaven nor Hell were suitable for either.

A nice twist ending, which would resolve this question rather nicely, would be for the sisters, instead of retirement, to routinely switch places from time to time.

Thus leaving us with the somewhat profound notion that, like your story where there's magic in all of us, that there's some good and bad in all of us.

Nicely done regardless. *Smile*

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
28
28
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi, Brenda,

First things first, it's always nice to see someone who knows how to write rhyming verse, and do so with a rhythm that is spot on. Well done, my friend.

Good Lord, what a beautiful tribute piece this is, both highly personal and universal in its heartfelt resignation to inevitability.

The photo is perfect here, though we could debate whether it's necessary or possibly diverts our attention from the purity of the words themselves. Words that, like soft daggers, penetrate not just the heart, but our very soul.

This poem is likely the best I've ever had the rare privilege of reading, in terms of the gut-wrenching subject matter. But we don't want to linger here. There is little to admire, and much to turn from, short of the author's gorgeous talent for phrasing the unthinkable.

As if the work doesn't give us pause enough to reflect on our personal losses, the author forces us to see ourselves, face our own mortality, as if the tears waiting in the wings--perhaps the wings of angels--are those shed by others who will one day grieve for us.

No matter how one comes to this, or leaves, this is tough stuff. Even writing a review is difficult when the writing is so clear, so powerful, that issues of grammar or punctuation are utterly moot.

It is what it is, and leaves us breathless, faint, with an impulse to embrace not just those who are alive and well, but to wrap our arms around life itself. While we can.

Thanks for sharing this lovely memento to memories. This is one poem not easily forgotten. Even more, an admonition to remember what, and who, is most important to us. Before they, too, are but the fondest of recollections.

Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
29
29
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Era,

I'm always torn when reviewing an essay, especially if it's about something I know a little about--"little" being the operative term. *Smile*

The reason for my ambivalence is based upon a personal confusion as to whether I should review the work primarily on the veracity of its content or the quality of the writing itself. What is said, versus how well it was said.

If I'm familiar with the material in question, I lean towards content evaluation, and if I'm unsure, I tend to focus on grammar and punctuation. Ideally, both are given a glancing blow. *Smile*

Firstly my hat is off, and a cordial bow given, to anyone who takes on the Almighty. And has the audacity to duke it out with Him, Her, or It. Serious contemplation of the universe, to the extent such is even possible, represents a noble effort, and one is to be commended for the attempt regardless of what conclusions are drawn as a result.

As for the grammar and punctuation stuff, the piece squeaks by. But barely so. It's actually written quite well, but the overly familiar tone, as if the author were speaking with a family member, and the long, run-on paragraphs diminish what is otherwise a fascinating overview of the subject matter. As a minimum, the number of paragraph breaks alone ought to be three to four times what they are now.

Below is a snippet that warrants attention:

These two things effect people in different ways, some look at it and draw the conclusion there must be some kind of designer to set all of this into motion.

Taken from the fragment above, please note my altered version below:

These two things affect people in different ways: some look at it and draw the conclusion that some kind of designer must have set all of this (or, all things, or, everything) into motion.

The fewer words we use to explain complex concepts, the less the risk that we grow tedious, drone on, and start losing readers. Note also, the proper use of the colon. A semicolon would work, also, but the colon feels right. Plus the misuse of "effect" and "affect".

When writers embark on these kind of intellectual journeys, it's best to keep the errors minimal or nonexistent. The reason is that your credibility is in play, and at stake. If you make simple grammar mistakes, many readers will be inclined to think that your other stuff is likely askew a well. So make these things as clear and error-free as possible. It's not easy, and I'm constantly editing my own stuff, finding and correcting endless mistakes.

So suffice it to say, you need to do a lot of additional editing here. Mainly nit-picky stuff that, once fixed, elevates the work from amateurish to near-professional.

Personally, I think it's dangerous territory when we try to second-guess the Boss. Instead we need to suggest why the evidence is compelling that God is unnecessary, irrelevant, and that whether He exists or doesn't, appears inconsequential to human affairs. And likely to that of the operations of the universe itself. If, on the other hand, we attempt to analyze how a God might think or feel about things, then judge His or Her motivations, we place ourselves in a precarious position: namely that of being omniscient psychologists. Far better that we humble ourselves accordingly and simply assert that God is an unemployed actor in an autonomous cosmos.

I recently discovered that I've been a deist all my life, and never really knew it. So now I use that particular label to describe myself.

We don't need statistics, such as those you cite, in order to justify or rationalize the inequities we see in the world. The fact that bad things happen to good or innocent people, especially children, was enough for me, long ago. Even if God exists, I personally wouldn't worship a supposedly omnipotent deity who rewards evil at every turn, and punishes piety. One needn't be a psychiatrist to recognize a sociopathic, schizophrenic God. Which leaves us within a logic-loop whereby the created are forced to question their Creator. God may be our biological parent, in a manner of speaking, but if He's abusive or worse, does that grant Him the title of Dad? Or Mom? Or Caretaker? Hardly.

These are precisely the kind detours that take us to dead-ends. And are best avoided. The faithful would certainly argue that we cannot judge what is beyond judgment. And I, for one, can't argue with any of that, other that to say there is nothing to judge.

Faith is the ultimate escape hatch which allows those incapable of critical thinking, to avert the crushing psychological blow that everything they believe, may well be wrong. History is filled with scientists and philosophers who have experienced epiphanies and crossed from one side to other, gone both ways, from atheist to believer, and believer to atheist. One of the most intelligent men around today, Dr. Ben Carson, the brilliant neurosurgeon who is running for president, disavows all belief in evolution. One wonders how that is possible, and is subsequently struck by the power of faith. And for every Dr. Carson, is a Dr. Jones or Smith, for whom the exact opposite revelation has occurred .

I liked your eventual turn to a brief discussion of Dark energy. That's a nice end to the essay. We know more about God and the bottom of the oceans, than we do either Dark energy or Dark matter. The two ideas need, I think, to go together. Dark energy appears to be a result of Dark matter, and is responsible for accelerating the rate of expansion. Likewise, the universe may not, in fact, possess any empty space whatsoever. Dark matter fills every bit of everything. A cosmos made up of empty space, Dark energy, and Dark matter, might be a tad too complex even for complexity junkies.

Add to all of this the newer ideas of String theory, Membrane theory, multi-verses and multiple dimensions, and our feeble notions of a traditional God are quickly buried beneath mountains of new questions. All of which have but a single answer if you're among the faithful. To wit, faith itself. That doesn't seem to be enough for you; it certainly isn't for me. I suspect that when humans produce the first truly sentient life forms, likely biological robots of some kind, that the last vestiges of traditional faith will fade away.

One does have to wonder, however, how religions like Islam will tolerate the presence of new people in the world. Man-made people. Soulless, man-made people. I suspect it won't go any better for robotic infidels than their human counterparts. It seems all too apparent that science and religion are not compatible and one or the other must inevitably adapt or be destroyed. I think your local Muslim or Mormon or Pentecost member might have some very strong feelings on the matter.

Thanks for inspiring me to dust off my own mental shelves and providing a stimulating, highly enjoyable read. Well done, my friend. *Smile*

Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
30
30
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi, Magoo,

Okay, stop the presses, I've seen enough, I've read enough, enough already. I get it. This author is a fabulous poet and why he or she needs our reviews seems a moot question compared to why aren't we buying his or her published books?

I only had to read three, starting with The Swarm. Then She is Irresistible, then this one here. I'm done.

I could spend a whole evening reading these delightful, positively exquisite poems, never stopping until I read them all. And would still be left wanting more. OMG, this is great stuff. And here it is, sitting in the backwater swamps of WDC, with a bio block barely filled, and nothing in the bio section itself. The humility of this writing is both staggering and depressing. Such talent, seemingly on hold, without the fireworks it so richly deserves.

I didn't have to read any more. Though I almost desperately wanted to. It was a bit too much of a sugar shock, in a way, as I wasn't prepared for the high quality of literary skill that quickly leapt out at me, like inanimate creatures suddenly sparked to technicolor life.

I hope this person is nowhere near as sequestered away as appears to be the case. The bio material alone should be filled with edge-of-our-seat anticipation waiting for the latest reply from his or her most recent query submission to the tenth or twelfth publisher or agent. I can only pray that work of this quality is not sitting here collecting dust. To do so would not only be a shame, but a travesty.

I've seen enough in three pieces alone to say, "Okay, wrap it up, let's run these through a final edit and go from there." Which ought to be about five different directions, simultaneously.

Grammar and punctuation? Please. Give me five, maybe ten minutes on any piece and it's done. *Smile* Hand me the next. That's how close these already are. These are ready to assemble into submission packages, or if it were me, start seriously prepping things for self-publication.

I'm a professional illustrator, and under other circumstances, I would have jumped at the chance to illustrate every one of the poems, the whole book(s)if possible -- on spec alone. So good are these in my never-to-be-humble opinion. *BigSmile* Sadly, I don't do that work anymore, but if I did.... By the way, when it comes to this sort of thing, you shouldn't have to pay anybody, at least not very much. See if they'll do it for a portion of the proceeds, if you plan on promoting the work yourself. My suggestion also is to keep the art very simple. Let the beautiful words speak for themselves. Seriously.

I see that you're coming up on your 9th anniversary here at WDC, and still you haven't told us much about yourself. I, for one, know everything I need to know. Which is to say you're one outstanding, utterly superb poet. The pieces are funny, poignant, surprising, cute, adorable, suitable for adults, on and on and on.

But I want to know more about you, as a person, so I can advise you, if you'd even listen to such advice. Should you be willing, however, there is a lot to talk about. Trust me, readers want to know who you are. Not gobs and gobs, but just enough to sense the human behind the words.

I don't mean to lay it on so thick, but this might be my only chance to catch your attention and tell you like it is. This is not the time to be shy or reserved. Nor is it necessary to be requesting teeny tiny corrections of grammar and punctuation. It like asking if Moby Dick's eyes should be blue or green.

For whatever it's worth, you have got to ask yourself, if you haven't already, "Where do I go from here?" It's time to go, my friend, it's time to start formalizing, finalizing, and making some firm decisions as to your next move. Self-publication is so easy and so cheap nowadays, that there is no excuse for not prepping these for widespread public consumption. And we should have started yesterday.

If you'll permit me, please ask me any questions you'd like about your various options. You have many from which to choose. Regardless, I can't stand the idea that another day, month, or year will pass without you getting some serious recognition. Or getting one or more books ready to roll. And rock the children's literary world. I love the idea that adults will be equally delighted over these -- I am -- and I'm seventy-years-old and very choosy.

Combined with some nice (and simple) illustrations, I cannot imagine a more wonderful (and potentially lucrative) collection of poems. I bet you've got lots more hidden away. Good, the more the merrier. *Smile*



** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
31
31
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hello, Gene,

Before I forget, thank you for your service, my good man. It appears that more than one item in your portfolio reflects that part of your life.

I chose this intriguing item because imagining the future is one of my personally favorite pastimes. Plus your writing is so well done, that it looks like anything of yours that I start to read, will draw me in and not let go very easily. *Smile*

It's wonderful that you've channeled so much energy into your writing, and done a helluva job with it as well. Congratulations, my friend, on a multitude of levels.

I'll assume that you did the beautiful painting of the Amerindian on the horse that adorns your portfolio? Quite the poet warrior, as they say. George Patton would be proud. *Smile*

So what about this particular foray into the future? My first question is why you adopted the persona of a grandmother. You probably get asked that a lot. One answer is, why not? Who can argue with that? And talk about being in touch with your feminine side. *Smile*

While the story is just the right length, for what it is, I couldn't help but wonder if you pulled up short a bit. Your excursion into a future that appears to be a hundred, perhaps two hundred years ahead, maybe even more, would seem to pull its punches, via an almost overt reluctance to shock or surprise your readers.

Instead the author treats us to a "Twilight Zonesque" style tale, complete with happy kids, a seemingly carefree world, and the ability to live virtually forever, free of disease or infirmity.

On the plus side, this Pollyanna glimpse of the future allows the ending to hit a home run, and we're left with both a smile and a wink of the author's eye, as to the ultimate direction of where things are headed, being anyone's guess at this point.

From a more critical viewpoint, the author teased me with his ability to be more explicit, graphic, and descriptive of a far more realistic future, but took a different path entirely. Not a bad path, or one that doesn't work, but more like going for a swim, on a hot summer day, in only two inches of water. Just enough to get wet, but where I asked myself if the trip was worth the effort.

Granted this piece was never intended to win a Pulitzer, although it's not for lack of talent. *Smile* And I suppose my only real suggestion is that if a rewrite were ever in the works, this piece could sparkle and shine accordingly.

One other thought passed through my mind as I read this, and I think it deserves a brief mention. Given today's obsession with all things gender related, including transgenderism, I felt sure we were going to learn that the grandmother was previously a grandfather, with some kind of interesting responses from the kids, accordingly. Or that the new clone body was the same age as some of the kids in the story, which could also make things interesting.

In its entirety, this well written work reminded me of the Twilight Zone episode where the old folks got a second chance at regaining their youth. A similar kind of innocence is here, and it has a nice feeling to it.

But is it too optimistic, too lighthearted for today's jaded, darker realities? Even Rod Serling himself might have a difficult time pulling this one off nowadays.

All that said, a good read, fast, to the point, no muss, no fuss. With a time machine at the end that is sure to mess things up once and for all. *Smile*

Good job.

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
32
32
Review of LINES  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | N/A (Review only item.)
Dear Samberine,

I love to review your poems because they are so full and rich. If I didn't know better, I would be inclined to think you were a native English speaker.

I also love this poem because it's all about lines. I'll bet a lot of people don't know that when our eyes look at the world, and send those images to our brain to be interpreted, the mental pictures are first viewed as lines only. Yes, it's true. Our brains can only "see" things in the form of horizontal lines, and vertical lines. That's it. Not even diagonal lines. When we see slanted lines, it's only because they are mixed between horizontal and vertical. Isn't that interesting?

And here's a great poem, all about nothing but lines. Which is really about everything. Because everything that exists, is a combination of lines:

Fine lines.
Short lines.
Long lines.
Dark lines.
Firm lines.

Perfect.

Add to this, the image of a pencil held in fingertips, and "dancing" under a spotlight focused on a circular musical scale, going 'round and 'round, and we have the perfect comparison and contrast to all those "straight" lines. Any mathematician will tell you that circles are really nothing but straight lines stuck together. So there you go. A world full of lines "...with their reasons in every purpose."

Which brings faith, and God into the world, also, I think. The great thing about poetry is how so much can be said with so few words.

Wonderful job on this, Samberine. Really nice.

I think the author here tells us about three things which are some of her personally favorite things in all of life:

The nighttime, music, and dancing. I could not agree more. I have to to give this work a high rating because those are also my favorite things in all of life. What else is there? Love? If you add up all three, isn't the sum total the same as love? I think it is.

This is a poem that captures the whole experience of being human, all in just a few simple "lines". *Smile*

Great work. Five stars!

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
33
33
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Angus,

It may be Poe himself who turns over in his grave, aghast at your having replaced his raven with your owl. And Lenore with a Tiffany.

Of the only two ways this story could have gone, I must confess to being surprised, not necessarily disappointed, that you chose neither direction. My first inclination was that Angus had plans to resurrect poor Tiff. Or secondly, that he intended to kill himself and join her.

Alas, wer're treated to neither, and instead are left with too much of a mystery, I think. Or maybe too many alternatives, perhaps.

I like the owl. It's a nice play on the raven. White versus the black. Silence instead of the talkative crow. So no problem there. As for the last line, it only works if the thunder is more than a cheap sound effect added just because.

When I read that last line, before the whole poem even, I imagined the thunder to be a gunshot, with some hint that it was not just thunder.

Otherwise readers are left, I think, with the impression that either Tiff has plans of her own and has been awaiting her chance for revenge (or reunion), or that Angus has finally gone over the deep end and simply hallucinating the whole affair.

That said, the piece works just fine at the superficial level , provided we didn't bring along our gravedigger's shovel and start digging around for more. Some things are just what they are, no more, no less. No rule says every story has to be a cornucopia of twists and turns, ups and downs, and heart-stopping climaxes.

Sometimes things are just what they are. And in the case of this author, that always means something worth a moment or two of your time.

Personally? I think Tiff dragged Angus' scroungy butt down into the earth, never to be seen or heard from again. But that's me.

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
34
34
Review of Midnight Angel  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Sir Angus,

Once I got the Christmas music out of my head, I was able to buckle down and read this terrific twitcher of a tale. *Smile* Please change the colors, or attach silver bells to the monster. Thank you.

That said, I always look for the dual interpretations of both literal and metaphorical. And as always, this author never disappoints his readers. This time we have to wait until the very last line, and I gobbled up the delicious suspense like one of Santa's reindeer feasting the day after.

Maybe the monster here is the real Saint Nick, enticing a youngster to go with him as payment for his Christmas services? But the child can only go voluntarily. Sort of a new spin on the Grinch tale.

But I digress.

Perhaps the demon is a would-be female lover whose beauty has been changed by a cast spell? And the "victim" somehow senses that instead of death, a great reward awaits.

Good stories provoke good secondary imaginings. The writer here is the consummate provocateur of such tangential tales, for which the original work is but a beginning. Tantalizing, intriguing, with just the right words. And in this case, just enough, without overkill.

I could also go off on an entirely different tangent, one where the victim of real crimes, likely abuse or deprivation, experiences this "Guillermo del toro" surreal-like visitation by a real demon who promises to take him (or her) away from all the pain and suffering. This is what real writing is all about, and Angus is the master of his domains.

I have only one concern, and it is a sad commentary on the times we live in.

It will stare at me with its orange eyes
And breathe its dirty black breath into my face

Can you guess where I'm going? And it may only be me. That I've grown too sensitive and too involved in politics. The word "black" is almost like walking on eggshells nowadays. And even though I knew that any kind of racial disparagement is the farthest thing from this writer's mind, I still cringed when I read "dirty" and "black" used together in the same sentence.

I think you pull it off here, and have nothing to be concerned about. It's much more me, than you. But if it were me, I would couch the language just a bit more in favor of there being absolutely no possibility of misinterpretation or misreading, or even a casual distraction. I always recommend erring on the side of caution in these regards. If for no other reason, I don't want to play into my own hangups.

All that said, a masterful "little" piece that plays like a big-budget shindig. The fact that this author is not already widely read and followed is a crime in and of itself.

Please proceed, my friend.

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
35
35
Review of A Waste Of Time  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Angus,

I read a bunch of these "shorties" of yours and lingered on this one because it had only one other reader review. It's also not one of your better works, which means it's only "good" and not "excellent" or "superb" as are so many of your other pieces.

Above all else, good God, man, do you eat and breathe besides write? What a massive and intensely diverse portfolio you have. I hadn't realized it was so extensive. Beautiful, my friend. You have enough here for more than a few fine anthologies. I'd love to be your editor. And you think I'm kidding. Not!

What's refreshing about your writing, and even the style, is that it's actually funny. If it's not always a belly laugh, it's a big grin, but the humor is always there, as is the cleverness and wink of the eye. So many writers think they know comedy, and so many are wrong. It takes a special gift to be funny. And the humor gods were stingy when they handed out those insights into the human condition that allow some of us to know a good laugh when we think it. And write it.

In all honesty, your work is an editor's paradise. I really mean that. It's so well written, and sucks in so many little ways, that it's like removing bits of lint from a fine piece of clothing. A couple of passes with the sticky roller and voila! Ready to rock and roll.

This is good news if you decide to self-publish one day, or get picked-up by one of the pros. Final editing is usually the hardest part for most writers, so the closer you are to a finished product--to begin with--the better. And your stuff is close, my friend. Close enough indeed.

In summation, it's often the case that writers lack a sufficient quantity of quality material. Like a painter who has too limited a collection of finished pieces. What's great about your portfolio, is the sheer volumes of stuff you have. And I suspect you have more yet stuffed away here and there. Inside your head if nothing else.

So I don't know if you're adding new material all the time to what's already here. Or if you're in the process of final editing all your preexisting works. I can't stress strongly enough, that your focus be on lint removal, and easing up on more shirts and socks. *Smile*

Then again, if you're in a holding pattern, waiting to hear news of your submissions, well, it's still a good idea to clean and polish. Or in your case, get out the stain remover.

That said, which is enough out of me, congratulations on nothing short of what I consider a near monumental achievement. A wonderful accumulation of witty flotsam and jetsam where my only regret is that I don't have the time to peruse all your stuff at leisure.

By the way, who made all those terrific sigs that adorn your port? They're very good and suit your work to a tee.

Seeya,
Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
36
36
Review of In My World  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi, Mari,

Let me first say that I'm not an advocate for the LGBT community, nor do I make a habit of either promoting or denouncing the way people choose to love, and whom they choose to love. Love just is, and deserves the same high regard and esteem we place on all other aspects that describe the positive side of the human condition. In this respect, I am very much a live, and let live, kind of person.

That said, this wonderful, and powerful, minor masterpiece of poetic work deserves high praise for many different reasons. None the least of these reasons is the remarkable way in which a single piece of work can change with just one word--in this case, the very last word of the entire work.

Bravo for the soft and beautiful manner in which the poem gently draws us in, lures us into a form of complacency toward the end, and then, like a hammer, shatters our per-conceived notions as to what we assumed was an otherwise ordinary story of true love, unfulfilled. Nicely done, in all respects.

I almost stopped reading before I got to the last word, and for that, I owe you an apology. I underestimated you, and I shan't make that same mistake again.

A work of this brilliance and subtle wisdom, deserves to take its place among the best of those items which reflect positively and honorably as regards the Gay and Lesbian groups that even now, seek recognition and tolerance among their "straight" brothers and sisters.

In summation, it is precisely the marvelous understatement of this piece, that makes it so strong. No preaching or politics, no pushing of an agenda, none of that. It's a love story the same as any other. Or rather a story of unrequited love, the same as any other. And even then, it's ten times more than that.

If we're surprised or shocked by the ending, that's a comment about us, a question for us to answer about ourselves. The author presents us with a very old story, and it is only our old ways of thinking that make it new. For me, I enjoyed the ingenuity of the piece, and I loved having my strings pulled.

Even if the gentle tug was a friendly reminder of how I'm still not quite as "hip" as I'd like to think I am. But I'm getting there. I hope others who read this will allow themselves to be strung along, but led down a path that leads to personal growth and awareness.

Good job, my friend. Kudos and champagne all around. *Smile*

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
37
37
Review of Haunted  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi, Kat,

Despite that really flattering photo of you in your biography (I hope you didn't pay too much to the professional photog who took it) *Smile* please let me say this about your question as to whether or not to include the piece in your collection.

The answer is unequivocally yes, in my opinion. One of the qualities of a good writer, a good poet, is a certain boldness and confidence with respect to their own work. A poet is, in many ways, pushing their heart and soul onto a public stage. It takes a lot to do just that, as you of course know, all too well. To then second guess their own courage and fortitude is to do a disservice to both themselves and their readers.

This is a lovely, beautiful piece of work that is as powerful, strong, and heartfelt as any we might be lucky enough to find elsewhere. Stand tall and proclaim to the world that this is you, this was your friend, and this is what the loss, the person, meant to you. Anything less is to lessen their memory.

One of the great advantages of being a poet, that you don't get to slide on quite as easily with prose, novels and short stories, is the pride and self-confidence that comes with "truth". Poems tend to be very authentic, very real, and brutally honest. No apologies are ever needed, nor desired by a reader. We want to be moved not only by your words, but by the bravado of the writer herself.

Could I do a little editing on this, some punctuation here and there? Sure. Probably nothing you can't still do yourself if you got dead serious with this. I hope you do. It's a fine work, better than fine. And the last line nails it.

Great job. Keep it, do a final polish on it, and don't even think of not including the piece as one of your best.

Bob

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38
Review of Demented  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello, RM,

Pretty sneaky, trying to pass yourself off as a young and handsome Elton John. Let me know if you have any other album covers I can borrow. *Smile*

Speaking of albums, in reading through a few of your listed items, I noticed that they read like song lyrics. Which I don't say as a criticism by the way. I just hear a faint musical background playing as I read your stuff.

This is no more true than for your prose/poem, Demented. While I like it a lot, and think it has a lot to say, the problem seems to be that the form and format suggest more than a little difficulty in figuring out "how" to say what it says.

No easy task when the subject matter is as sullen as this. We don't want a bouncy rhythm that conveys a lighthearted tone, and you come close to capturing the right mix of mood and method.

It occurs to me that the desire to find words that rhyme may hurt this particular piece, and keep it from being as strong and striking as it might otherwise read.

Without the music score that seems missing from the work, both the rhyme and rhythm are uneven, rough, and feel "forced" somewhat. The last stanza in particular, is unclear in its meaning, and Ted's suicide, leaving behind a wife and kid, seem not only cowardly, but more indicative of someone suffering from self-indulgent depression, than a life so terrible that death is the only escape.

It's not like Ted had robbed a bank and killed a guard, or anything even close to that. What? A thankless job, a loveless marriage, and less than a great Dad? Welcome to 75% of American families.

So while this is the perfect story for a Country/Western song, I'm left more with questions as to why this poor bastard didn't seek counseling, or spend time hashing things out with friends.

Check out the stanza below:

He was in a marriage that was going nowhere,
with a job that was doing the same,
he realized that his life was all too lame,
so he'd come home from his mundane job,
and smack around his kid rob.

Notice how this kind of describes the tone and tenor of the poem as well? Going nowhere? Doing the same? All too lame? Mundane?

Rather than shock us or keep us interested, the poem paints it own portrait of boring meaninglessness. We can read this kind of stuff any day of the week in any newspaper. Or hear it sung on any music radio station.

Good poems and good stories always give us more. They're bigger than life. Tragedies are more tragic. Desperation is more desperate. The guy doesn't just smack the kid here or there. He injures the child, and beats the mother as well. He loses his job, is on drugs, an alcoholic, facing divorce, loss of visitation to see his kid, who hates him. He hates himself.

Now you've got someone ready to put a gun to their head. Or to the heads of other people. Read the news lately?

Worth a departing mention here, is Elton John's Tommy opera. Talk about outrageous and over-the-top. Was Tommy larger than life, in a very surreal, fantastic world? Of course, and it is precisely that kind of style and substance which you ought to consider as your road map and guideline when writing your own stuff. Just a suggestion on my part, but a good one, I think.

I can tell you have both the ability and the imagination to make this happen for you. Given a sufficient kick in the rear, and a wake-up call for you to stop soft-peddling the real miseries and horrors that are both imposed on us, and that we subsequently impose on others.

Now get out there and make me a believer! In the meantime, thanks for listening to my own crap. I hope some of it is useful. *Smile*

Bob

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39
39
Review of The Need  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hello, Candy,

I bet you have no idea how good this is. You are much too humble of a person. So let me be the one to tell you how good this is. Which is to say, I think it's great. It's better than good.

This is an excellent example of a monologue, where the writer is thinking out loud, is having a conversation inside their own mind, and sharing it with their readers.

Sometimes referred to as a "stream-of-consciousness", the author gives us a marvelous "river" of philosophical questions, few of which have any real answers.

And then the writer comes to the only real conclusion that is possible, which is to say that it's the "good and beautiful people" who make the Earth feel alive, come alive, and tell us that life is worth living regardless of all our questions.

The answers themselves may, in the end, be purely academic, when our focus is correctly centered on the people around us, including ourselves. The writer implies that it's necessary to see ourselves as an important part of this "process", and correctly includes herself in the following line:

The most important form on earth. A form which makes the earth alive, good and beautiful--people--persons--us--me.

If there were only ten best questions about life, love, and the meaning of everything, this author has properly identified at least eight or nine of them. *Smile* I love it when seemingly ordinary people say and do extraordinary things. And this writer proves she is no ordinary person.

The irony here is that anyone who would ask such questions, has already answered them, by posing them in the first place. There is a gracious humility to be found here, and in these kind of questions. And the heart and mind of the person asking for answers remains humbly unaware that they themselves, are the answer. All the rest of it is the same as what we might find printed in a textbook.

I can't say enough about this grand piece of work, so I'll have to stop and just let it stand for others to discover, and cherish as their own kind of treasure. As I did. Which is to emphasize that it's the person behind the words who is important, and not so much the words themselves. And for someone whose first language is not English, the quality of this item is amazing.

I liked these other two paragraphs, also:

These questions made me feel empty-handed. Why can't I answer any of these questions when these are all about the life of a human being? Am I not a human being? What happened to me?

In the story of the Holocaust from WWII, one of the quotes attributed to that terrible period was the plea of a Jewish prisoner who quoted Shakespeare when he asked a Nazi guard,

"Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that."

The Merchant Of Venice Act 3, scene 1, 58–68

I felt this fitted in quite well with the rest of the poignant questions raised by this fine piece of writing.

Lastly I totally loved the following lines, but was confused by the phrase: "to live humanly." This is so powerful as a comment, that I want to be sure of the meaning of that last line. It could stay almost as it is, because even though it's not perfect English, it still says something original. And special.

I am not equipped to be a mother. Neither to be a wife. Even more, I am not equipped to live humanly.

Something more like the following:

I am not equipped to live a humanly life.

My only regret in writing this review is that there's only five stars that can be awarded to this six or seven star entry. So we'll both have to be satisfied with the five. *Smile*

Bravo, congratulations, and keep asking those questions. And others. And don't worry about the answers. It's the questions that are all important. Truly.

Be well and thanks for sharing.
Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **







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40
40
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi, Joseph,

Skirmish of Alma Portus is the only story I didn't read. That and the French one, which is fun to look at even when you don't speak the language.

My favorite is Legion of the Damned. Both parts. I love the intro which reads like a poem and absolutely should precede the main story.

All the rest have their strong points and weak parts, but every one of them shares some things in common. It's easy to tell that the same person wrote all of them, which is a good thing. It means you have a style all your own.

My main criticism is the same, I think, from the last time I reviewed your interesting work. I refer to how your stories are 90% action and 10% story. I can tell you really like to write adventure scenes filled with lots of stuff going on.

This is not a bad thing, and usually stories suffer, more often than not, from just the opposite problem. Too much plot and not enough action. In your case, we have story after story, though not the poems so much, that read like the scripts for video games.

Your poems, BTW, are exellent. I have no quarrel with any of them. While nothing stood out for me, each poem tells its own story and does it well.

The short stories, however, are something else entirely. If we were to think of them as videos, the first thing we'd need to do is hit the pause button. Then the slo-mo play. Slow down, my friend, back up, and take the time and energy to build a solid foundation for your characters and the action in which they're involved.

Your single paragraph below is one example of too much action, too fast, with sentences too long, too often. I rewrote this to illustrate my point, but not necessarily to serve as an example of perfect writing. Notice how I spread things out and gave us some breathing room. Plus now there's lots of room for more descriptions if you want to add them. Compare this version with your original, word for word, space for space:

Chaos erupted as the horns sounded and men donned their raiments of war. Hundreds poured into the courtyard of the fortress keep, then rushed to man the castle walls. Elsewhere, archers nocked their arrows while warriors loaded huge, oversize javelins into the grooves of countless ballistas.

An overlapping of roars, louder than any thunder, rolled across the city as the great beasts dived, unleashing jets of fire that were hot enough to melt stone and metal alike. The air quickly filled with the agonized screams of dying men, and then the whistling of thousands of arrows and giant spears soaring through the air.

Riddled with arrows and other projectiles, the dragons began falling from the sky, crashing into the city below. Like fiery bombs heaved from heavenly balistas, buildings were demolished and set aflame.

In less than an hour, all defenders within the shattered walls were slain, and the once-mighty city lay in waste, its crumbled towers and turrets nothing more than a smoldering inferno.

Joseph,

See how when we expand the paragraphs, it makes room for even more descriptions. Look how many great new adjectives and similes we can add.

Note too, uses of words like "nocking" an arrow and not "knocking" an arrow. I notice that you make these kind of small errors quite often, and in all your writings. They are easy to fix but try to make a mental note each time you learn the difference between your incorrect usage and the correct version.

All that said, I really hope you continue to grow in writing. It's easy to tell that you love doing it, but keep in mind that it's a lot of tedious learning as well. Your weakest area right now is in story development.

This means laying down a foundation that clues the reader in on who the story is about, what's happening and why, plus all the small but important details like time of day, weather, the surrounding terrain, wildlife, and so forth.

Notice how in Legion of the Damned, you're way too stingy with describing the Lich, what that's all about, and a ton of other needed details, all squeezed into every available niche of every paragraph. More adjectives, synonyms, and similes. More! Character development--more! Which means family histories, tragedies that make the characters act the way they do. Revenge? Why! When! Where! How? and what? All of these words are questions which need answers as soon as possible. Without giving away important clues or answers.

You know what spoilers are? Give your readers everything that a spoiler would answer. If they had one or more of them. Without giving up actual spoilers. Make sense?

I hope this helps. Keep going, you're doing great, all things considered. Especially your age. You're far ahead of most people your age when it comes to this kind of material. Do yourself a big favor and you know that dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar book you have? Take them to bed with you every night. Study them. Whenever you see or hear a word you don't understand or know how to spell -- look it up! Do this over and over again until it's second nature to you. Remember the Karate Kid movie? Wax on, wax off? Do the same with words and grammar rules.

That way you'll be able to write perfect English when describing how this guy beat you up. Because you studied English instead of Karate. *Smile*

Be well.
Bob

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41
41
Review of From Ages Past  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hello, Ms.Magi,

This is one terrific poem. We can almost hear the music and other sounds that accompany your beautifully chosen words. Words that totally capture the atmosphere, action, movements, and ambiance of a Middle Eastern restaurant or club. I love it from first word to last, and wouldn't change a word. Well, maybe one, which I'll explain in a moment.

I really like the repetition of "The beat goes on." This is a nice touch that connects everything together and keeps the pace with a steady, musical rhythm. Very nice job with this. Very professional in all respects.

Age old dance,
Continues to entrance,
Middle Eastern "misses"
Blow slow kisses...
The beat goes on

With the above in mind, you did a review of one of my poems where you noticed that I used "sew" instead of the correct context form of "sow".

Okay, so my tongue is in my cheek as I point out that "misses" also has two meanings. But I couldn't help myself, for the sake of humor only, to pretend to question whether you mean misses as in "missed", or as in the plural form of "miss". The answer is obvious, based on context alone, but it does illustrate how these multi-meanings are omnipresent and often unforgiving.

In your case, word choice is perfect and I'm just being a persnickety brat. *Smile* Which I'm good at.

Once again, congratulations on a marvelous piece of work.

Be well,
Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
42
42
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Derek,

Okay, my friend, now you've gone and really done it. But in a good way. This story, as was the other I read and reviewed, is nothing short of extraordinary. I've made a couple of notes, but overall, somebody should be paying you for these professional quality stories.

This thing has more twists and turns than a spiral staircase. If you're not stealing these from somewhere, you're one of the great writers here at WDC and I hope you get the recognition your deserve one day soon.

Keep entering contests. I'd enter these in magazines and elsewhere also. If you don't already. They're a bit too rough for professional publication, but if you ever want to get that serious, I'd be honored to help out with some necessary editing. But only if you enter a contest or submit formally to a publication.

You kind of get ahead of yourself, here and there, and I was unnecessarily confused from time to time. All easily fixed. You're likely just a bit too close to the work, which is why you want readers. Before I contribute my two cents, please know again that I think this is really great stuff here.

I don't mean to keep gushing over it, but decent writers like me encounter no greater pleasure than to find someone who can piece together complex, entertaining, and highly original stories. Bravo, my friend.


"We weren't expecting you until after mass was over," said Sister Virginia. "Can't you see the service is just getting started? (question mark) The pew that is to be repaired is over there at the back but I'd like you to come back in an hour or so."

In the paragraph above, always move the speaker to the front as soon as possible. Don't make us guess who's talking. Ever. Plus the missing question mark. If you submit for publication, even these slight errors can kill you.

"It is your turn to confess!" shouted the voice once more from the other side of the partition.

Remove all bolding. It's the sign of an amateur. Good writing doesn't need to advertise its own emphasis. Good writing doesn't need it.

Sister Virginia heard the out burst and whipped her head around to the source.

Above, outburst is one word.

Sister Virginia peeked from her office.

"Lower your voice, Hector. Now is not the time..."

In the two lines above, I got lost as who was talking. I think I know what you intend, but things like this have to be clearer. You can't jump from Virginia's office back to the confessional without a brief clarification.

"You have lost weight, Hec... All that hair...I barely recognized you, brother," said Father Alvarez.

The word, "brother" here is a bit too cute and clever. A double meaning detracts from the scene. Like a religious "Brother" instead of a sibling. I think "...my brother," would be better.

From this point on, the story is a bit like a cross between "The Man in the Iron Mask" and "The Count of Monte Christo". Which is fine. No problem. I like it all. Good job. No conflict whatsoever.

Maybe you are making their dirty money, clean, through the church, eh brother?"

I think the correct grammar above should be as follows:

Maybe you are making their dirty money, clean, through the church, eh, Brother?"

She forgot about the precaution and applied too much force for the rotting base and the entire pew fell backwards onto the tiled floor with a thunderous BANG!

The last no-no is not to capitalize anything other than signs or names of objects, whatever. But never, ever, as part of an action narrative. No "BOOMS!" or "POWS!" It's not Batman.

Here's the correct version:

She forgot about the precaution and applied too much force for the rotting base. When the entire pew fell backwards onto the tiled floor, it crashed with a single, thunderous bang.

Okay, my friend, that's enough out of me. Great story, great job.
Keep churning this stuff out. It's gold.

Bob

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43
43
Review of Want some?  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Candy,

This is very well written and I am now hungry. I don't know whether to say, "Thank you, or darn you!" I really liked how you mixed the ideas of food, health, and family values all into one story that is as much about having a good time, as it is about eating good food. Well done. No pun intended. *Smile*

My only criticisms are the following two items:

However, I wanted to do more. I ventured on more than what our family cooks and I even went beyond cooking the traditional food of our country. I studied foreign cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Indian, American, Italian and French.

Don't be impressed, however. *Smile* I studied it all on my own so I am not exactly a professional chef. *FacePalm*

In this way, cooking does not only connect me to my own family but connects me also to one whole big family! Every new ingredient means an even wider interaction and a growing individuality. So vast is the world that I guess, growth will be a constant motion in my life. This is how far cooking has brought me.

Candy, see how I split your original paragraph into three separate ones. I like your little side comment, which makes us smile, but there is no need to emphasize it with italics or the word, "oops". Just speak plain, without the need for parentheses or undue attention. It reads just fine as a nice addition to your "conversational" style article. Putting it into three paragraphs was not totally necessary, either, but it's a nice touch, so I went with it. Remember that there's always several ways to write the same thing. In this case, though, you used too much emphasis which wasn't needed.

Great work otherwise.

But, there is one more significant and above all the reasons why cooking holds my attention.

In the sentence above, the word, "above" is in bold, and it doesn't need to be, nor should it be. When you want to emphasize a word, just put it in italics, which in this case, would be perfect. The sentence itself could be improved, too, while we're at it. Try this for an example:

But, there is one reason above all others, as to why cooking holds my attention.

In the new sentence above, we don't need the italics now, at all. See how many different variations there are? Enough to drive us all crazy. I'm sure it's why most English speaking people are kind of nuts. What do you think? *Smile*

Bob

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44
44
Review of Goodbye  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi, Kat Von,

Great poem, loved it from beginning to end. The words I substituted in all caps are my suggestions for smoothing out the few places where the rhythm and beat of the piece got lost for a moment. If you don't like my choices, be sure to use words which conform to the same sense of "timing" that mine do.

The big change that I found might work for you is to convert this into the grouping of stanzas that fit perfectly into four-line blocks. This not only improves the "looks" of the piece, but puts more emphasis where it belongs. Instead of running on like short-story prose.

That said, you really captured a haunting, delightfully wicked, suicidal invocation here, and the poem reads as well as any professional work we might find in the anthology of most any famous poet.

I recommended changing 14,000 feet because I felt it was too specific, as if that particular depth was something special, which is isn't. I think you just wanted something that fit the slot, so to speak. *Smile*

I think you have a genuine gift for poetry, and let me know if you'd like me to look at another of your items. I'd do so anyway, except I need to first find out if like my ideas or not.

Thanks for sharing this. It's great.
Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **

She told me that the ocean,
Had been calling out her name.
When the tide went out each evening,
She felt like she should do the same.

The waves tugged at her ankles,
As they pooled around her FEET.
Whispering of wonders,
That she still had yet to meet.

But every time I asked her,
If she knew the reason why,
She simply said this arid world,
Had turned her deep heart dry.

There was just one way she knew of,
To finally feel like she was free.
And THAT WAS FAR BELOW THE SURFACE,
Beneath the cold and stormy sea.

Then early in November,
She slipped like water from our hands.
Left nothing of her salty breath,
Or footprints in the sand.

And I hope THE OCEAN GAVE HER PEACE,
Made up for things this world lacked.
For she left a note to say goodbye,
And SHE NEVER THEN came back.


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45
45
Review of New Day  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Waterlilly,

Welcome to this website. It's a great place to hang out, hang in, and hang tight. Perfect for young and old alike. Be sure to add more info to your port bio stuff when you get a chance. It's important to know who someone is, at least a little, when it comes to doing reviews.

As for this beautiful poem, I love it. It speaks to me, as if I could feel myself running through the forest and finally finding my way out. And how it's me who changed, and not the place from where I'd come.

Rather than get into a big interpretation thing, I was excited to show you how easily this work fits into a four-lines-per-stanza layout. I think it's better this way. It gives us a chance to take a breath and digest the words that came before.

I also made a few word changes and corrected some spelling, based upon how I read the piece. Let me know if I got everything right.

Other than that, I thought this poem was wonderful. Please get more stuff into your portfolio as soon as possible. And let me know when you do. I want to see (and review) a prose piece also.

Once again, thanks for sharing this. It's great.

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **

She ran into the forest,
As the dawn shattered the night.
Slipped through the ever reaching fingers,
Of the MORNING'S blinding light.

And as she stumbled onwards,
The trees all slowly SHIFTED hue.
For even ancient oaks,
Have the desire for changes too.

Yet with the weight of all she held,
They knew their leaves could not compete.
So they gave their auburn lives,
To line the path beneath her feet.

She ran past months and seasons,
While the wind grew crisp and chill.
And through the depths of winter,
She continued forward still.

Until with lungs protesting,
FROM the distance she had run,
She broke free of the tree line,
Back to the place she had BEGUN.

But the forest showed no signs,
That something grand occurred within.
Under a sky still slightly cracked,
Where a new day would soon begin.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
46
46
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Ash,

I think I read this poem in a very different way than you intended. If so, then here's a good variation, I think, on how the whole things works -- for me at least. *Smile*

As I interpret the piece, the ending is perfect. It's not overstatement or understated -- it's just right and I loved it.

The work in its entirety takes place within the soul of the narrator. Who, we presume, is female, but mainly because the author is. I like the unknown character as female. That works perfect also.

All of us have a separate person living inside of us. I know I do. That person is either angel or demon, depending on who we are down deep--in the deepest cellar of our soul.

Sometimes alcohol unlatches the door, sometimes drugs. Or anxiety or stress, any number of scenarios. But the "inner us" is always there, not unlike a genie in a lamp, but in this case, an entity who represents our true personna. When all the social trappings are penetrated, as the symbolic teens do in the poem.

I think the teens are representative of all those who attempt to delve into matters that are extremely personal, private, and run the risk of unleashing forces for which they are totally unprepared. Just as teens so often do in real life. Even our our thoughts, our own doubts, fears, and personal demons can intrude upon us as if they were strangers exploring (probing) our emotional weaknesses.

Another thing that makes this poem really good is the multi-faceted nature of how it can be read and interpreted in so many ways. It is like an abstract painting, where all visitors are art experts in their own way.

In persusing other samples of your work, the Zen, the girl and the snake and others, it's apparent to me that much of your work is enigmatic, haunting, and gently mysterious. It is not easy reading in my opinion. It demands that we pay attention, do several readings, and think about meanings other than what might appear as obvious.

Writers of this style run the risk of losing as many readers as they acquire. I've always been a risk taker, and all writers should be also.

My only cautionary suggestion is that you make sure your poetry and prose says exactly what you mean them to say. And that you further ensure that the words you use don't have secondary meanings which can be misread, and defeat your intent. This is always a danger, thus the need to use exactly the right words, as if all your work were Haiku's in one form or another, where every syllable counts.

If possible, let me read a piece [of yours] that you feel is too simple, if anything, and can't be read any differently than how you wrote it. If you pass this test of sorts, then your work takes on a more sophisticated credulity in my eyes. It doesn't have to be good, just honest, even childish. Probably an older work.

Other than that, bravo, my friend. Splendid material that was a joy to read.

Bob

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47
47
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hi, James,

This isn't a fair review on my part because I haven't read the whole piece. I read as far down as this:

The last known attack of the dragon was 3 days North East. The chamberlain pointed to a village about halfway there called Bridgeton that stradled a river that could be a sufficient place to rest up and prepare. The riding there was easy, for as the Lord had stated, most of his lands were rolling fertile fields that yielded wheat, barley, and all sort of other produce. Varheim, the great star of the West, was mostly fields like this. Armen had been to the city itself only a handful of times but each time he feasted on the freshest, most varied food in all the world. After Nilfheim's march across the pass and onto the fields of Varheim, much of the land was left scorched and salted.

I didn't stop reading, however, because the work wasn't good enough to keep going. I stopped because the excerpt here is way too long. Few people will take the time to read through all this. And that's not fair to you or them.

I liked the stage you've set up and the characters have a lot of potential, with the right development yet to come. But the whole thing is just too dense, too heavy, too loaded. Too much of a commitment is required if one is to really evaluate what you've got going here.

The paragraph I copied into this message represents about the absolute maximum amount of text to be read at any given time. Meaning from the beginning to the end of that paragraph. Even that is too much in my opinion.

Give some thought to breaking this up into at least three, even four equal sections. That will make a fast read for most people, and something I, for one, could get into and then get out of, and leave some decent commentary in my wake.

With stories like this, you want to whip the first paragraphs into really good shape and use them as a guide for what follows. The best way to do that is focus on those first paragraphs, and keep writing the rest of the story, just don't put it up until the sections are ready to read.

No review is of any use to you unless you have already done the best job possible, the best work you're capable of, in your own opinion. That way you can only improve, in all respects. And the way to maximize the volume of reviews for yourself, is to keep items relatively small, and advertise them.

Readers who do reviews usually do a lot of them. And they don't have time to spend on long, chapter-length stories. Do yourself a favor and let me see this one "block" at a time.

I love the whole dragon stuff you have going on here. *Smile* It sounds fresh and not overly done. I have some suggestions and observations about grammar and punctuation, but that sort of thing can zero-in on only relatively small sections at a time. And then it's your job to apply what you learn, to the rest, one step at a time. It's not something we do all at once. And larger items tend to "demand" too much attention, all at once.

I hope this is helpful, and that you get more readers as a result.
Bob

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48
48
Review of The Seed  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Candy,

The corrections all looked right to me. Except for the one below:

If this is was so, then I thank you
for the freedom to be as I am.

"the freedom" is the correct usage.

This is a very deep poem. I think it is about love that is still unfulfilled for some reason. Or had taken a long time to become realized? The italics add an interesting touch, and tell us that the strong feelings are requited, which puts a happy spin on everything. Even so, it seems like the two lovers were slow in coming together, and now that they have, or will, it is a time of quiet celebration instead of joyous, flamboyant merrymaking.

Presumably the woman was slow to understand the other person's love for her, perhaps because of her need to be herself, her own person, and to keep those same freedoms while being loved. There appears to be some assurance that the other person's love is unconditional. And in that being true, hers will be also.

I'm probably way off, but this is why poetry is fun. Keep having (and giving) this kind of fun to your readers. *Smile*

Bob

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49
49
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Derek,

This reads like a very professional story. As if it was written by some famous author whose name any casual reader might recognize. Well done, my friend. The story is almost too good. It's a nicely played twister, so to speak, that keeps us going right to the very end, and even then, doesn't let go. I really liked it. Liked it a lot. You have a real gift for this sort of thing.

Keep in mind that my comments refer almost exclusively to the content of the story itself. I wasn't overly thrilled with the structuring and punctuation, both of which are amateurish compared to the superb story itself.

Fortunately, any nitpicking I might choose to do with respect to grammar and such is easily remedied. I hope you do the sweat-work necessary to turn this into the absolute award-winner it deserves to be. I can easily see this dominating virtually any contest in which it is entered. But not, in my opinion, in its currently rough condition.

First of all, great stories like this one, not only read well, but they look good, aesthetically, also. The text appears like a balanced painting, meaning there's a nice mix of paragraphs, large and small and medium, as well as the sentences themselves. In this context, the best way to describe your story is to say it looks disheveled.

If you'll permit me, here's the first of the overstuffed paragraphs that need trimming. The big action sequence which takes place later, also needs this same kind of reworking. Not so much in changing words or style, but just in breathing some much needed air and space into an otherwise congested mishmash of continuous action.

Instead of throwing the scenes all together, thinking that they read faster and more exciting that way, just the opposite is achieved. Poorly structured action sequences, especially, get bogged down, slowed down, and lose whatever shock and surprise value they should have possessed if written better.

Please compare my revised version below, with your original, word for word, line for line. Pay close attention to the small details and punctuation:

The door to the wooden closet began to slowly swing open again. His smile disappeared and a scowl distorted his handsome features.

He lurched towards the closet, his white coat billowing behind him as he moved to stop it from fully opening. He held the door panel firmly and looked inside the space to see what might be preventing it from staying shut.

On a narrow shelf just inside the door, he checked the position of the nearly naked, lifeless body of the real Dr. Jamie Broussard--that he had positioned to sit there.

His face was not more than three inches from the dead man's open mouth. He then checked the tightness of the neck tie that he had used to strangle the doctor. The ribbon of garment went up from neck of the corpse, past his purple lips, to a coat hook which held his torso erect inside the closet.

Like just another victim, an orange prison jumpsuit also laid lifeless and crumpled on the closet floor. He closed the door with a firm slam this time, and smoothed his sandy blond hair as he returned to Ms. Arnold sitting on the floor.

The noise of the slam had startled the woman. And distracted her from studying the inkblot image. Her eyes slowly drifted to the beautiful family photo on the small table. She wondered why Dr. Broussard appeared so much shorter in the picture?

And then suddenly, the doctor once again stood in front of her. Caught somewhat by surprise, she gathered herself together.

Derek,
One of the great benefits of opening-up these big paragraphs and dealing with smaller ones, is that you can now add more descriptions if you want to (and you should want to)and not worry about creating even larger and more unwieldy paragraphs.

The huge action paragraph lower down the page, the climax, needs a lot of attention with respect to what I did in this particular paragraph. You can use the extra space to add in a lot more descriptive detail, which is helpful in big action scenes.

By the time you're finished, your overall piece should have a rather uniform but random combination of paragraphs and sentences of all lengths and complexity. The work will have its own "texture" that is pleasing to both the eye and the brain.

If you do some more work on this, please let me see it again. It's too good not to further polish and refine. And I know you're capable of doing the job. I just want you to love this as much as I do. This should be a sheer joy for you to work on from this point forward.

Let me know if I helped. Thanks.
Bob

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50
50
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi, LaVonne,

I was pleasantly surprised to discover what an excellent writer you are. I haven't looked to see if you are writing a novel or a collection of short stories, in addition to your nonfiction stuff, but you definitely have "the chops" (to use the modern vernacular), should you wish to do more fiction work.

For example, while this reads fine as a tribute piece, a testimonial, of sorts, we're not quite sure whether it's fiction or nonfiction. This needs to be spelled-out for readers who don't know Mary. In this same context, however, I felt the work could make a nice fictional story, if nudged in that direction. The strong morals of the tale don't need a real person in order to work, and I think readers would enjoy it more as morality tale, than simply telling us how much you personally admire this particular person.

Let Mary exist as someone all of us know, maybe a Marcia, Betty, a Fred or John. That's Mary's real value to me, as someone who doesn't know her personally, but who knows others that emulate her enviable behavior. Plus writing fiction is fun. Most of the time. *Smile*

All that said, I do have a concern about some of your overly long, complex sentences.

Earlier when I told my co-worker, Natalie, that Mary was driving me to the dentist, she told me how much she liked Mary.

In the selection above, you should consider breaking this into two sentences, for example:

I had earlier told Natalie, my co-worker, that Mary was driving me to the dentist. She mentioned how much she liked Mary as well.

While the above is not intended to be the single "right" way to write this, it does illustrate a better way than your original.

When I mentioned I needed to get an item next time I went to town, the next time Mary went to that store, she bought me one.

I once made a casual reference to something I needed to pick up the next time I went to town. Before I knew it, Mary had gone to that same store and bought the item for me.

Sometimes there's just no fast and easy way out. And we have to word things in a very carefully structured way. Again, just an example of one way in which your otherwise complex sentence can not only be rephrased, but is much clearer afterward.

Mary is an encouragement to us all. She doesn’t ask or expect recognition for all the little things she does. She’s just a wonderful woman with a big heart, a heart given to her by God. And those good deeds done in secret, He will reward openly.

I included the paragraph above because it's perfect as is. Well, except for comma after "secret".

In my own writing, I have a tendency to be "wordy". But I'm also careful to keep my sentences short and medium in length. Only occasionally using long ones. I think you might be too careful, and not wordy enough. You're trying to get everything out in just a few lengthy sentences. Slow down and don't be so frugal.

While it's true that a bunch of big words strung together don't make great writing, readers, I think, want to know more than what you're giving us. So don't be so stingy. It's not enough that Mary is someone we all should admire. She might as well be Florence Nightingale in that respect. I want to know just a bit more about the human behind all the goodness. How she persevered after the death of her husband, say, or survived a terrible illness. That sort of thing.

Well, that's enough out of me. See what you stirred up by reviewing my little item? I'm glad that you did because it gave me a chance to review one of the truly talented writers here at WdC.

Be very well.
Bob


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