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51
51
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!.
52
52
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

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
53
53
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

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
54
54
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

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
55
55
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

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
56
56
Review of S h a t t e r e d  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Candy,

This review is sort of a combined take on all your poems, which I read and enjoyed. They are all good, some more than others, but each is fun in its own way, because you try to work within the rules for a lot of different styles.

I'm reminded of an old joke about a pro-golfer and a preacher who made a friendly wager during their golf match. The preacher bragged that he could make a particularly difficult shot and the professional confessed that even he couldn't make such a shot. So the pro-player bet that neither could his friend.

So the preacher bowed his head in prayer for a moment, then hit the ball which ricocheted off a tree, skimmed across the lake, where it was picked up by an eagle and dropped perfectly into the hole.

"Well," the pro-golfer shrugged, "if you're through messing around, can we play some serious golf?"

This is a bit how I felt while reading all your delightful poems. It's like, "If you're done experimenting with these varied forms, can we get down to some serious poetry here?"

By serious, I mean to suggest that you find a particular style you like, or no style at all, and give us your best shots. Personally I'm not a big fan of all those different styles. They seem gimmicky to me. All style, as they say, and little substance. Haikus are a rare exception. I wrote a few of those myself.

I bet you could do a nice free verse poem, one that tells a short story. Then do the same with rhyming, which is tough on those for whom English is their first language. *Smile*

So if I was a teacher, I'd give you an average score of "B+" on the poems as a whole, and an "A" on more than one. But that's a reflection of personal preference, more than it is a grade on how well you did the poem itself. Unless someone is really good on one or more of these exotic styles, how could they judge your work?

I don't think we can, which is why I want to encourage you to find the format that you like the most, and stick to that. It's somewhat like not learning to play the piano by practicing with a tuba.
*Smile*

I just checked and noticed that you have even more poems tucked away in other folders. It appears that they are also experiments with different styles. I'll go check them out to see if I missed something really cool.

In the meantime, please don't misunderstand. Writing has to be fun and full of experimentation. I'm not opposed to that at all. When we do all that, however, it's best that we always keep our aim focused on finding our true selves in what we write. And then adopting the minimum number of structures that work best for us.

As a novelist, I stuck with third person, past tense. Sure, I could write first person, present tense. But it's hard to do. And I have to then answer the question, "Why?" Why bother, when just doing the one form, and doing it well, is often a lifetime quest all by itself.

Keep writing poems, though. You're very good at them. And don't listen to old curmudgeons like me. Well, a little, maybe. But just a little. *Smile*

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
57
57
Review of Kansas  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Julie,

I assume that's your name because of the blog name you posted. So if it's really Fred or Joe, I apologize. *Smile*

Please take a look at what I did to your wonderful poem. And even without my meddling, it was already very good. See if what I tried to do makes more sense, however.

I converted everything into stanzas with four lines each. But by doing so, I ran into a problem here and there. While I really like the changes I made, and I think your piece is more the better for them, the few snags that resulted are easily fixed, I think. In any number of ways. For instance, the two lines left hanging by themselves:

Situated along the Little Arkansas River bank.
I wondered who had sent the shoes, wondered who to thank.

You're more than capable of changing the above, for example, into a four-line stanza. Add whatever words are necessary, or however you think it works the best. I just ended up with these two lines and didn't know what to do with them.

The last stanza needs a little bit of work, also. Not because the right words aren't there, I just think you'll know what to do, or what's needed when you look at everything in its slightly altered format.

So is my version better than your original? I think so. Shorter lines seem more suited for this kind of poem, in my never to be humble opinion. *Smile* But see what you think. I feel like the rhythm is faster and smoother, and better conveys the "fun" aspect of the work.

You'll notice too, that the punctuation needs some minor changes to accommodate my unforgivable tampering.

I don't propose this as the "final" version of how I think the poem should look and read. Only as a variation that I hope allows you to see the work in a different, maybe somewhat improved fashion. Through different eyes, kind of thing.

Otherwise, I really liked this piece a lot. Truly. I'm a pushover for stuff that takes old things and makes them seem new again. Good job.

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **



You may not believe me
when I tell you this tale,
But today I got ruby slippers
in a package in the mail.

There was no return address,
just a postmark at the top,
From a little town in Kansas,
not even a whistle stop.

A town I’d never heard of,
in the middle of the state,
Halstead, north of Wichita
on the map at any rate.

Situated along the Little Arkansas River bank.
I wondered who had sent the shoes, wondered who to thank.

I took them from the package,
watched them sparkle in the sun.
I slipped on the right shoe.
It fit like a holster fits a gun.

I pointed my toe
and swung the heel from left to right.
It glimmered and it gleamed,
it was such a pretty sight.

In the second shoe
I found something kind of odd.
A little note all crumbled up
in a small tight wad.

It wasn’t something cryptic,
not words to make you roam.
Just these five simple words,
“There’s no place like home.”

I probably shouldn’t
have said the words aloud,
As I clicked my heels together,
so smartly and so proud.

For suddenly the rolling hills
of Tennessee were replaced
With the flat plains of Kansas
and wide open space.

So if you want to visit me,
I’m in the Sunflower State.
If you’re thinking about a visit
please do not hesitate.

I can’t promise that I’ll be here
when you come, because . . .
A tornado may perhaps come along
and carry me to OZ.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
58
58
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


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
59
59
Review of The Last Remarks  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
AnnaBelle,

This is too good for someone your age. Come on, 'fess up. Who did you steal this from? Don't make me look in the library or Google the real author. Did you change the name or leave it the same? I'll find out, no matter what, you know.

Okay time to get serious. This is a very dense piece of work. That's both a blessing and a curse sometimes. Pieces like this need to breathe, and the way you do that is to break things up a bit. You need to paragraphinate, except there is no such word. If there was, it would mean you need to convert this into bunches and bunches of new paragraphs.

It all stays the same, it's just easier to read, it looks better, more inviting, and is just generally a better way to do this stuff. A lot of folks have trouble deciding where to create new paragraphs, and that's a big part of the problem. Once you get the hang of it, it's actually quite simple. And it's fun besides.

If you'll permit me, I'd like to paragraphinate your entire item. This would not only show you how relatively easy it is to do, but will hopefully demonstrate how fast it goes, also.

There's some interesting grammar issues that also arise with these more complex stories, and while this seems pretty straightforward, it is indeed a very complex tale. One that reads as a fascinating cross between Pygmalion and that Bill Murray movie where he had to repeat every day over again, which itself is a theme based on a far more serious story called, "12:01".

I'm looking forward to reading this a third time, so that I get it all. I'm sure I missed bits and pieces and it will be fun going back and picking them up. Even with it's share of errors and mistakes, this is a five-star winner of a short story. I really liked it, and although I don't say it very often, once in a while you read something where "love" isn't all that much of an exaggeration. In that sense, I can honestly say I loved this story.

But it needs some work. Editing never ends and even among the finest pieces, rough edges still need smoothing out.

For now, rather than deconstruct the story itself and go into this, and out of that, it desperately needs to be paragraphinated. You'd think there would be a word for that, but if there is, I sure don't know it.

So, with your permission, when I get it, I'll revisit this piece and convert it into a much different-looking work. None of the words will be changed and as I said, all else remains the same for now. Only afterwards, can we take a look at some other important issues which deserve our attention.

Until then, this is a minor masterpiece that comes across as having been written by a real pro. Which reminds me, I'm still waiting to hear who really wrote this. Was it Stephen King, or Dean Koontz? I promise not to tell.

Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
60
60
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Zesty,

Okay, let's see how many adjectives I can conjure that will both describe this zany piece and do it poetic justice.

It's scary, it's funny, it's spooky, and silly, and funny (that deserved a second mention) *Smile* and it's mysterious, and just generally icky.

I think that about covers it. The piece reads like this bizarre mix where The Addams Family, The Munsters, Frankenstein, Dracula, and others are all enjoyably jumbled together, and we're left with something original and interesting, instead of a rehash of old material. Well done, I must say.

This is one of the stories where the reader shouts out, maybe literally, to the main character and says, "No! Don't do it. Don't go!" And especially, "Don't eat anything!" In this case, it's liable to bite back and eat the guest.

This is also one of those weird tales where someone asks, "Why?" To which the obvious answer, to many of us, is, "Why not?" Some things just are what they are and this is certainly one of those.

My only criticism is that the punctuation is all over the map, as they say. I could show you what's needed, but you first have to care, which is not always the case, and secondly, you need to learn where it's wrong, and why. That needs a much longer review. And not many care to get into all that.'

So you're off the hook for now. Which in this story, would mean a big bloody hook, right through the back. Not enough to kill, but keep you hanging around for dessert.

Thanks for listening.
Bob

** Image ID #1922401 Unavailable **



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
61
61
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hi, Michael,

I found your little tale to be a nice cross between humor and suspense, plus I really enjoyed the casual, conversational narrative provided by the main character of Michael.

I had to go back and double-check because I was thrown off balance when Michael referred to himself by name, as if he was talking about someone else.

Points to me, Michael, for another wonderful episode in the idiot decisions saga.

In the line above, it might be better to leave off Michael altogether, or add "me" as shown. Don't give your readers too much credit for following along close enough to catch the more subtle nuances. *Smile*

While the casual tone works perfectly in this piece, it needs to be punctuated properly. Let me know if you're interested in that end of things. I won't bore you with all of that unless you really want to spiffy things up.

I wanted to dig a bit deeper into the actual content here. For whatever that's worth to you.

In the film, Flatliners, audiences liked the idea of cheating death, as did the likable characters in the movie as well. In your story here, perfectly happy friends seem content to off themselves for no particular reason other than maybe they're bored. For me, the motivation is not nearly strong enough, nor convincing enough, to buy into any part, let alone the whole idea.

Suppose, just for contrast, these people were all members of a support group, all PTSD sufferers, a depression group, drug rehab, whatever. Then not only does everything fit, but especially the last line.

As it is, this is the quintessential bourgeois tragedy. People who have otherwise good lives, health, shelter, jobs, wallow in some perverse, self-absorbed state of dissatisfaction. So much so, that dying is preferable to living.

In a world where people starve and waste away from disease, this particular group is doing the rest of us a favor. This is both a strength in the story and its greatest weakness.

Well, this may seem like a lot to do over a short, simple piece of work. Maybe so. But for those who take seriously the "art" of writing, it all counts, all words matter. *Smile*

Give us a better, more intense reason for why these interesting people want to die. Or let us in on their being within a drug-induced stupor, and about to do something really stupid. In this case, motivation is everything. And yet you give us nothing in that regard.

Okay, so while one could make a case for how doing something for no reason, is itself a reason, I come down on the side of lazy thinking where the writer was in a hurry, and leaves the reader in the lurch, so to speak.

Ultimately this is all just one person's opinion. But I hope it's a good one and finds a warm reception. Other than my snide remarks, I found the piece to be provocative and well written.

Thanks for listening.
Bob

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62
62
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hey, Rob,

Before I go out and step in front of an oncoming bus, after reading your dark poem, I should probably do a brief review and see if my life was worth more than bumper fodder.

I love dark and gloomy. I live for depressing and dismal. I root for the appearance of death and destruction whenever possible. The reason, of course, is because it's the very opposite of these things that make life interesting and worth living.

I suppose really depressed, distressed individuals feel just the opposite if you think about it. They strive to see the Good because they are awash and drowning in the Bad. As always it's a matter of contrast.

Which is precisely what I sense is missing from your otherwise excellent piece of work. I like all your observations, reservations, consternations and even accusatory criticisms, as if nature itself were on trial here. I couldn't agree more. And I would love to sit on this jury where you're so aptly the judge.

Yet I would, in the end, vote "not guilty, your honor." For we would be remiss not to mention, and argue the case that rebuts every negative with its equal but opposite positive.

No one more than I, would be quick to point out the irrational cruelties of life. I say irrational because much of what you discuss in your poem describes a certain mindlessness, an amoral Godlessness that is neither purposeful nor negligent in how existence itself functions or operates.

I suspect that if I extracted an underlying, metaphorical meaning from everything the poem seeks to disparage, we would find humankind at the root of the dying tree. The sole culprit responsible for all the misery and heartache to which you refer. And rightfully so.

But it may be too subtle in this regard. You pull your punches if this was the boxing ring in which you wish to fight. The day is dark not because the sun isn't shining. The sun is as bright as ever. Above the clouds.

In your poem, I miss not reading, feeling, or seeing this sort of comparison, where the good and bad always coexist simultaneously, though it often seems the one is outpacing or obscuring the other.

Instead, you tell us how difficult it is to write about beauty because of the prevalence of ugliness, yet Beauty exists because of the Ugly, not in spite of it.

Although I consider this a good piece of work, I feel like it's "part one" of a twofer or trilogy. What you've done is too easy, too pat, too well understood by most people. What's really difficult is striking the balance, especially over those things that we have direct control over.

I saw a great video the other day. This seal swimming along, then thrown high into the air by the Great White shark that attacked it from underneath. The seal went in one direction, the shark the other, presumably swimming off to find its meal elsewhere.

If they wrote poetry, we can't help but wonder how this seal's version might read. *Smile*

Thanks for letting me prattle on.

Bob

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63
63
Review of Horse Trailer  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi, xXx,

I really liked this poem. I like the rhymes, I like the rhythm, and I really like the story.

Poetry, in general, is a hard thing to judge as to punctuation -- should you use it a little, a lot, or none at all?

In rhyming poems, what's called the "iambic" beat of how a reader pronounces the words, and what syllables are "stressed" while others are soft, is also a very subjective call, and not easily labeled as right or wrong.

Where to "break" the lines and the individual stanzas is often something that only the author has a feel for. And then does the best they can to make the piece as pleasantly readable as possible.

In poems like yours, where the sentences tend to be long, I like to see some degree of punctuation. Either that or instead, check out the following:

Following the trailer
I just couldn't wait
I opened it up
and led him in the gate

It was the first time
I saw my friend again
"You've probably been wondering
where I've been"

See how interesting (and fun) this can be, when we play with the various ways of writing the same thing? Again, for me, I like the shorter lines better. They're nice and clean, where each line is its own thought, its own idea, its own feeling.

And then if it was punctuated, it would look like this:

Following the trailer,
I just couldn't wait.
I opened it up
and led him in the gate.

It was the first time
I saw my friend again,
"You've probably been wondering
where I've been."

While not necessary based on any hard and fast rules, I prefer the punctuation -- what do you think? It's important whether you like the punctuation or not. If you do, then we need to do that mostly (but not completely) right, of course. Just get close and that's usually enough, other than last minute tweaking.

My only other suggestion concerns the following:

And now as i see the horse trailer leaving
I am still standing here and still believing

Or written differently:

And now as i see
the horse trailer leaving
I am still standing here
and still believing

I don't like the rhyme here because the two sounds are exactly the same:

"leaving" and be-"lieving". See what I mean?

Here's one possible fix, but other possibilities exist, too, of course:

And now as I see
the horse trailer leave
I am still standing here
Trying hard not to grieve

The above version is kind of dramatic, in a good way, because now we're not quite sure whether the horse died or not. Not that the death itself is good, but the poem is made stronger and more poignant as a result. See what you think.

Well, I think that's enough out of me. And you no doubt agree. *Smile*

Let me know if you have any questions, and once again, a really cool poem.

Bob

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64
64
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello, Stuart,

I came back for seconds, after having had a main course of your poetry. I was not disappointed in your article any more than I was in your verse, and found your delightful treatise on ant versus human perception to be...perceptive, to say the least.

I like how the work intertwines sly humor with a strong sense of humility, a wink and a nod to both our ignorance of the universe, and our ability to appreciate what we can of it.

The comparative analysis of how we ourselves may be little different from an insect in terms of what we truly understand of our respective realities, though not entirely original, was nonetheless an inspired observation on your part.

Some of us, myself included, tend to think of ants and other socialized insects as individual cells of a collective brain. They're like the countless fingertips attached to a near sentient hand. And it is indeed the variations in our mutual perceptions that separate human from bug.

Saying "no" to one's own conclusions forms the basis of an esoteric field of study called, General Semantics. If you Google the term, the result will take you to the institute's headquarters. Folks such as Alfred Korzybski and Ayn Rand are but a minuscule sampling of the kind of people drawn to objective modes of critical thinking. I think you would find it all very fascinating.

But I digress. Your fine article provokes too many responses and reactions to do justice to them here, thus suffice it to say that your points come through loud and clear to all those whose ears are open. And who wish to listen.

Once again, congratulations, my friend. Your thoughtful commentary means a lot to those of us who understand (or wish to) the deep meanings to which you allude so well.

The only criticisms I have would pertain to nitpicky notes about the rough, grammatical and punctuation edges which exist throughout your writing. The good news is that they are minor and easily rectified. I think it's reflective of little more than the fact that you haven't been writing for that long.

Descartes' Evil Demon is alive and well within the details of avoiding all the many ways in which good writing is damaged by needless errors. And such pitfalls are numerous indeed. The old proverb of practice makes perfect is never more true than how it relates to writing.

As a good writer, already, you are well on your way to becoming a great writer. I hope you stick with it and persevere. And let me know if I can help in any way. I like to work with lights burning to shine on a hill. *Smile*

Bob

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65
65
Review of Darkness  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi, James,

I really liked your poem-like item. I think it says a lot, and you have a lot to say, with it. I especially like the last line that includes "...prevention of an internal eclipse." There's some nice stuff going on here.

That said, there's also lots and lots of small but important errors that run throughout the work. If these are important to you, I'd be happy to help out. Since I assume that you consider such mistakes worth noting, I've taken the liberty of pointing out most of them, because the piece is short enough to allow for that.

Your major difficulty appears to be with what is called "verb and subject agreement", plural versus singular and so forth. Please compare your original (word for word) with my revised version below:


As I lie here, I patiently await the inevitable breaching of the darkness. A mere fragment of time whose reoccurring manner is accompanied by a significance unbeknown to my survival. Whose beauty unfortunately coexists amid fears of that unknown, resulting in deprivation of what little optimism is left in my possession. (or, what little optimism I still possess.)

As I lie here, I resurrect prior thoughts whose sole purpose is that of aimlessly understanding a darkness. One whose daily presence allows fears unique only to my perception. A darkness that lies transparent amongst a spectrum of colors.

As I lie here, I prepare what remains of my sanity for yet another seemingly hopeless attempt to brighten a chapter otherwise indistinguishable from the darkness, as it appears before me. The morning sky effortlessly paints a visual representation of victory unbeknown to me, and provides a vague sense of hope and faith equally essential to my prevention of an internal eclipse.

James,

As I went through this, I got lost as to your intended meaning, while still sensing that you wished to express a particular idea. After working with this, I think it needs to be a free verse poem and that you'll see how much better it will work. Especially if you pay attention to the other changes I made, and see if you can grab hold of why I made the changes I did.

Changing this to a poem would be fairly easy, and little more than stacking each separate sentence (or thought) one on top of the other. Don't worry about punctuation until you're finished. And I'd be willing to help with that, also, if you wanted.

Hope some of this helps, and thanks for listening.
Bob

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66
66
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hi, Bruce,

I saw this terrific little item listed on the main home page and when I checked it out, I was glad I did. This is a rather innovative, if not altogether ingenious approach to describing one's return to the home they once new.

You asked if it was too much for what it is, and I don't think so. If anything, you're slightly guilty of being slightly pretentious. This is to say that you write a poem, then go on to analyze the thing as if it were some great historical document, written by some well known personage. But you do it so well, and so discretely, that we hardly notice. And none will take exception to the liberties taken.

For indeed this is a great poem, all by itself, without all the analysis and definitions. In so doing, however, you've taken the piece to a whole other level of excellence and informative entertainment. The poem becomes its own documentary, its own tour of a land and customs unfamiliar to most. And does it all in a most delightful fashion.

You're to be complimented on both taking a risk, and pulling it off. Well done, my friend. By the end, I almost felt as though I might be a native "Northwicher".

Your wonderfully executed piece reminds us all of where we might call home, and how much things have (or will) undoubtedly changed, much of it in rather melancholic ways; for once gone, their likes shan't be seen again.

There's an unspoken resentment here, I think, and the bitter disappointment, though slight, carries with it the implication that something's been lost along the way. Things of real value, of substance, of a comradery among friends and strangers alike. Much or most of it replaced by housing developments, shopping centers, and the warehouses needed to supply the demands of those who will likely never know what used to be.

But isn't that the way of things? Who's to say whether steps are taken forward or backward? Or if we just march-in-place, to the sounds of those different drummers, so to speak.

Be that as it may, I hope this work is as unique as it appears to be. I've certainly never seen this done before, and had you asked me my opinion beforehand, I would have stomped my feet and declared, "Don't even think about it! You'd have to do it just right, and I don't think you've got what it takes to make it work."

And while you would have had the last laugh, I would have been far from humiliated at being so wrong. It would have been my honor to congratulate you on a job well done.

Congratulations.
Bob

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67
67
Review of Time Away  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi, Thaddeus,

That's quite a name. Or is it Frank? But I digress:

I like this poem a lot. I think you did a great job with it. I think it works, and is both fun and poignant.

I had only one problem, but one which has an easy fix. In my opinion.

I dislike "forced" rhymes, and I think you're guilty of same in the stanza below:

Stay away from fast cars and bars.
Stay away from cigarette "sticks".
Stay away from cheats and liars.
Stay away from lightly dressed "chicks".

Sticks and chicks doesn't work for me. I don't think of cigarettes as sticks, and the comparison seems too forced. Here's an example which makes more sense to me:

Stay away from fast cars and bars.
Stay away from cigarette boxes.
Stay away from cheats and liars.
Stay away from lightly dressed foxes.

Okay, so while this might still not be perfect, it's closer, I think. With a bit more thought, I think you could do even better. Maybe not, but probably.

And that's it. Otherwise, put ink on the rollers and print this puppy up. A good read, great poem, thanks for sharing.

Bob

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68
68
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Jacqui,

My mouth was open and speechless as I read your smooth, near flawless writing. I'm quite certain that anything of yours that I might read is equally good, if not even better. So the good news is that, from a technical standpoint, and for flash fiction, this is a truly excellent piece of work.

My only problem is that I may be one of the few, or the many, who don't get it. I think I kind of get it, but I never read Tom Sawyer, kind of know what it's about, so I sorta, kinda think I get it. Then again, maybe not.

The real answer here is not whether I or anybody else understands the literate reference made, but whether the risk is not worth the effort. What I mean to say is that, "Tom Sawyered," may be the perfect way to express the idea you have in mind, but if you lose half your readers in the process, then you need to be more like a movie director who is forced to cut a favorite scene because it just doesn't work.

But like I say, it may indeed work, just not for me. Or not enough. Or in a way that leaves too much to interpretation. Especially true for flash fiction, we don't want readers to have to play guessing games, trying to figure out what the author intended.

If I had to guess, my assumption is that being Tom Sawyered refers to a kind of abandonment or desertion, where somebody runs off, for selfish reasons, and leaves friends or others behind?

That leaves me feeling illiterate for not really understanding, and great writing, as opposed to good writing, should probably be clearer, less esoteric, and leave no doubt as to the author's intention.

My only other quibble is why someone would use such a term in the first place. If this were a meeting of members of a book club, for instance, we would expect a literary reference, but coming out of the blue, so to speak, seems odd to me.

Then again, I've been known to be rather odd myself. So it's likely me, and not you, as the saying goes. *Smile*

If it were you and not me, however, I'd clarify the ending. But that's me. Otherwise, reading this was like silk on satin. For me, it's too well written to not have a slightly different ending.

Let me know if others agreed, or if I should have read the book instead of going fishing that day.

Bob

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69
69
Review of Ground Zero  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Hello,

I sure hope I got your name, Joel, correct. If not, my big apologies. I went back to the earlier emails to see if I could find where you signed your name as Joel, and nope, no where to be found. But usually my memory is pretty good with that stuff. If not in this case, feel free to dump me into one of those cold-war pits. *Smile*

I copied the stanzas below because I really liked them. I think it's where the poem takes a turn and stops being nostalgic and entertaining, and starts leaving no doubt that those were disturbing times for those who went through them. Especially at nine years old.

I think I was about the same age. I just turned 69, born in '46.

a question answered
carefully
and with compassion
and always
some strange mystery
when my father
turned his eyes
away from me.....

Yeah! I imagine lots of parents felt guilty and inadequate at explaining what the hell all of digging and preparations were for. How did anybody explain that to kids? How do we explain things today? A lot of nine-year-olds, today, are more like twenty and thirty-year-olds. Which harkens over to that other essay of mine you reviewed, about half-a-glass of water.

There came
the dark, disturbing dreams
a bit of truth
was dawning, then
this secret cave
was not my friend,

Yup. We gradually figured out that this was serious business going on. Duck and cover? Please.

They built some horns
so Gabriel
could kiss our angel wings,
I guess.........
after awhile
us kids forgot
just what and why they grew
up there on rooftops
of public buildings
so adorned
up there to warn?
prepare? announce?

I remember the sirens and the frequent testing, on a regular basis. Plus the updated, more sophisticated version you allude to later in the poem. Those were the sirens that if they went off, basically meant you were dead and you just didn't know it yet. Unless they were testing it. Which was funny but not funny because as I recall, they finally just gave up on the whole alarm and testing idea. The point was ludicrous and people knew it.

I really like your concluding remarks, the whole ground-zero stuff, and the sun embracing us like a relative of its own, but in this case, the man-made equivalent.

And we still see those maps with circles, based on city hall and spreading outward. Like if you were inside the right circle, you might survive with only minor injuries.

Nature might still have the last laugh, however. Despite our having survived such frightful days. You know those maps with the concentric circles spreading outwards from city central?

Now they use them for estimating the damage from an incoming asteroid.

Does God have a sense of humor or what?

Nice job on this great piece of work. Should be mandatory reading for all ages.

Bob

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70
70
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Hi, CM,

I think of all this as stratification. Much like the rock strata at which archeologists pick and scrape, each layer possessing its own characteristics, its own tale of existence. In modern America and elsewhere, science and technology has forced together a multitude of individual stratum, tempting and taunting them all to meld into a single, harmonic whole.

The anarchy and chaos we see are all the result of the gross failure and incompetence of older generations to properly mentor the younger ones. It is precisely the "boomers" who have failed to leave an inheritable, enviable, and profitable legacy to their children and grandchildren alike.

And the loss and alteration of many of the freedoms to which you allude represent the severe price which has been paid over the years. The world today, by comparison to only a few decades ago, is so bizarre, different, and intrinsically corrupted, that I am forever amazed that we, as a species, continue to survive at all. Some would argue that the end to my amazement is growing nearer by the day. And I tend to agree.

And yet, despite all, freedom is still out there. For the taking. By the horns and the proverbial bootstrap. We see examples every day and it never ceases to amaze me. Short of an outright police state that would make Big Brother envious, personal freedom still prevails. A kind of privacy to which we're all still privy and privileged.

For me, I draw a distinction between freedom and liberty; i.e. Libertarians believe in near unlimited freedom. Your thoughtful, well written words almost prompt me to write an essay on how liberty and freedom are today antithetical to one another, as odd as that may seem.

What is the old saying, that my freedom ends at the beginning of your nose? Many of today's social ills, such as abortion, for example, are seen as another's exercise of freedom, or liberty. Or is it more a matter of taking liberties with the freedom of others to disagree? Is same-sex marriage a matter of freedom or liberty? You can see how this subject might quickly escalate to an interestng and provocative exchange.

And this is the world we've left for our kids to figure out. And they're pissed about it, I think. At least some are. Which takes us back to that stratification business I mentioned earlier. As to who's angry, what races feel slighted, what genders are still denied their rightful due, all of it squished together like layers of rock, until they do indeed meld into a single stratum of discontent, agitation, and potential violence.

For me, these are the kinds of ideas and issues your piece arouses in my 69-year-old mind. Too many paradigms all crowded together all at once. If you look at the faces of the truly elderly, those in their late seventies, eighties and nineties, they tend to have that faraway look of the "deer caught in the headlights." Their eyes are kind of glazed over, dazed over, as if they can't quite digest the changes they've witnessed. Holocaust survivors stare at the TV news and hear echoes of history repeating itself.

Yeah, your editorial touches a nerve, my friend. Freedom at war with liberty.

What a concept. *Smile*

Bob

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71
71
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Hello, again.

I'm not going to give this a thorough review, but not because it isn't any good. On the contrary, it appears to have a lot of merit, and that you've put a lot of sweat into your writing.

Nope, it's just too long for what it is, my friend. But that's far from the whole story. Which is what you need to hear.

Your writing contains its fair share of errors, both grammar and punctuation. Content is confusing whereby we have multiple kings and other characters, most of whom are hard to follow and keep track of, in terms of who's who and what's what.

But, that is perfectly fine. That's how writing is supposed to be. Good stuff is always a work-in-progress. So I'm not all that critical of the story itself. Nothing is there that can't be smoothed out and made nearly perfect, and without a lot of painstaking work. More a matter of learning fine points and not so much big chunks of this or that.

But it's just too long, too much all at once. At least for me. My best advice is to break the two separate chapters into at least four sections, minimum. Like groups of pages from single chapters. Let us review half or less of what you currently have at any one time. This will get you a lot more readers, also.

It's far easier to review shorter works because we can focus on details as well as the big picture. When pieces are huge, like yours, typically the best we can hope for is some broad overview of the whole thing.

But much of the weaknesses here are found in the details, so to rush through them, or overlook them because time won't allow anything closer, is doing you a disservice, if you catch my meaning. You want folks to point out the little stuff right now. Because small errors early on, left uncorrected, can become giant headaches later on.

Give me a "chunk" of this to read, from the beginning, with all the rest of the chunks in numerical order, and you could reel me in, so to speak. Like serials in a series. When it's good reading, people will read the next installment.

I hope this particular evaluation is helpful, and I wish you the best of luck with your future progress. If you ever run into an specific quandary, don't hesitate to ask.

Be well (and productive)
Bob

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72
72
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Jenny,

Nice to talk to you again.

Since you've been hanging out by the WdC water cooler lately, you got me to peek at your Xmas poem. I didn't feel you really needed a formal review for everyone to read, but that you wouldn't mind a bit of informal feedback. Then I figured, what the hell, and decided to do the full monty, so to speak. Actually I was hoping for an XXXmas poem, but no such luck. *Smirk* Which is okay, because the poem is really very good as is. Really. You're a natural storyteller.

My only criticisms are one, the piece acts like it wants to have a nice, bouncy rhythm, and does much of the time. Then it bogs down into a prose-like narrative which slows us down and can be somewhat distracting. It's like getting up to dance, feeling the beat, then losing track and not keeping time with the music. Then picking it up again, and be-bopping along. I tend to be a stickler on consistency, and because I love most of your rhymes and word choices, plus a good deal of humor, I don't want you stepping on my toes, so to speak, or vice versa. *Smile*

By "rhythm", I refer to an iambic beat (as it's called) of where we stress, and leave unstressed, certain syllables as we read. As if the piece were read aloud. It's the logical difference, of course, between prose and poetry. In free verse, we're free to mess around all we want, and say anything any way we want, but as soon as you introduce rhythmical rhymes into the mix, then you're more or less obligated to "keep time" from beginning to end.

"The Night Before Christmas" is a great example of the iambic flow of words to which I refer, and your poem reminded me of that in some ways. When you read a poem like that one, you immediately notice that the words are like dance steps, one-two-three-four, one, two, three, four, as if the whole poem were a waltz instead of a piece of writing.

Secondly, your piece is richly complex, fresh, and interesting. But you pay a price for entertaining us as you do. Which is to say that spelling and punctuation become critical in such works. To adorn this poem properly, as if it was a Xmas tree needing to be trimmed, the best of us would find the effort challenging. As is, you've done an excellent job, albeit unfinished in some ways. In addition, if you alter that iambic metering I mentioned, you'll find the punctuation requirements will also change as well.

Let this be a lesson to you. No good writing goes unpunished or without the hassle of a dozen rewrites and edits. *Smile* Take it from an expert who specializes in needing to do many rewrites and many edits.

Okay, all that said, I loved your little poem. It has a good beginning, middle, and a perfect ending. I almost wanted to go play in the snow after reading it, but realized the 110-degree night air here in Arizona wasn't exactly Christmassy.

So there you go. You wanted to hear a few words, so here are a few of my words. Thanks for sharing.

Bob

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73
73
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
kdugan,

Hi. When I read a poem as good as yours, I get a little frustrated. That happens because I worry that I'm not erudite enough to suggest the necessary improvements, nor smart enough to describe how to convert an intelligent, thoughtful work, into the minor masterpiece it strives to be, and certainly deserves to be. It's like finding gold and not realizing that if we scratch deeper, we'll find that it's layered atop platinum.

This is my 400th review, by the way, in nine months here @ WdC. So I'm glad I found an excellent piece to mark the event. Although it may not be one of my best reviews, for the reasons stated. *Smile* But I'll try.

Your metaphor of talking into the wind is perfectly suited for the subject matter. Although I think at some point, if not from the beginning itself, it ought to be "shouting" into the wind. Oh, and it is "into" and not "in" "to".

There's also an old joke that your work brings to mind for some people. It certainly did for me. But not in a bad way. I figured it fit fine from the beginning. For those who know what I'm talking about, it works. And for those who don't, nothing's lost.

I refer to the admonition about not urinating into the wind. To some extent, there is a parallel with speaking into the wind, presumably into a headwind, where our efforts in either cases is both futile and counterproductive.

In the stanzas below, I changed some words because I think they fit better, and reinforce one single metaphor, which is to say that our efforts to defeat the forces against us, require that we never give up, that we continue to persevere regardless of how long it takes. A state of mind and thinking which is especially true when it comes to fighting for causes we believe in, humanitarian causes, matters of life and death, and the salvation of the innocent among us.

What is one man fighting to hold back the wind? How does one person change the course of the wind, or create winds of change on his own? As the author, you correctly imply that the tendency of people to both be cruel to one another, and to suffer at the hands of others, is a powerful momentum of forces not easily diverted to more positive and productive results.

Hope and relief from the human propensity to inflict harm and neglect is properly symbolized by the lone voice that cries out against it all, as if the suffering were itself a great gust of unstoppable wind. The cure, of course, is then the joining together of many pleas, numberless calls to stop the madness. Until the combined breaths from the voices of kindness and compassion are themselves a wind, a hurricane of goodness that repels and forces back the ill winds of darkness and despair.

These are the sort of thoughts your work inspires in me, and if you don't mind too much, let me see if I can suggest something here and there that makes the whole thing work even better. Maybe not. Let me know how I do. Or if you like things just the way they are. Either way, this poem is a total winner.

Thanks for sharing this. Please compare this new version to your original, line for line. Thanks again.
Bob


I am talking into the wind. (note new periods and other marks)
I feel the words
Blowing back across my face.

Like sand
Cutting me
Until I bleed.

Children lie smothered in the streets.
Mothers tears flow
Like oases in the dusty night.

The anger
Of fathers
Return to haunt the living.

Echoes from the wind
Howl of
Sorrow and pain.

I will keep shouting into the wind
Until
Mothers and fathers...

No longer
Weep and scream
With pain and futility.

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74
74
Review of The Past Lives On  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Hi, Iris,

You're old and wise before your years; you know that, right? This story is amazing in every way, and my only concern is that the ending is simply too depressing, too dark, too final. As the author, you leave us with nothing of value, as if one recounted some tale from the Holocaust and then abandoned readers like corpses in an open grave.

This makes for a strong and unforgettable story, but I'm not sure the nightmare ends when your words do. What you've done is write an effective horror story instead of a sad "slice of life" recollection. Without a drop of blood or gore, you play your audience like a musical instrument that bellows with discordant tones and then finishes us off with a stick of dynamite.

To repeat, this works very well as a horror tale, but I'm not so sure that this makes the most of the story's true potential. I think it's an award-winning piece, but whether in the horror genre or as a tale of suspense and tragedy is the real question here.

The remedy, for me, (though you don't really need one) is to let Melissa live in the end. She might easily consider that suicide lets her off the hook too easily. She deserves to suffer in her own mind. Maybe in her mind, that's a more fitting punishment for her unforgivable deed.

But at least it gives her something, and gives the reader something to cling to. Some possible salvation down the road. Maybe she'll meet someone, fall in love, have another child. Who knows? Let the reader decide her fate. Instead of you, the author, being her judge, jury, and executioner all in one.

This needs some work, but not much. All things considered. I've given a few examples below. Know this, however, my friend: this is one great story and you've done a marvelous job with it. The reader is taken in, like a lamb to the slaughter, and halfway down, you start to slowly cut with your knife and never let up. On the contrary, you continue to cut deeper, relentlessly, without mercy, and in the end, abandon us bleeding on the highway as if we were just another traffic casualty.

Here then are some miscellaneous notes that indicate how a more thorough editing job would start to deconstruct your writing:

I like the obsessive compulsive OCD temperament of Melissa. We don't know why, exactly, but the text reads the same way, frantic, frenetic, breathless, barely in control, on the verge of a breakdown, some kind of active depressive, incoherent behavior.

I also have a protocol for dressing up in the following order: first socks, then underwear and the rest of the clothing. I can't close this paragraph without citing that every pair of socks or shoes must be worn first by the right foot.

In the paragraph above, the word "paragraph" is out of place. Is she writing a note or telling us a story? Change it however you wish, otherwise. Something like: I can never finish getting dressed without first slipping into every pair of socks and shoes on my right foot.

Be careful of overly long sentences.

Sometimes, I get unknown calls. Being a young secretary, in her twenties and dealing with different men every day has its perks: some men are also young, poised and good-looking, probably rich, but I'd never be interested because a part of me is shut to feeling anything towards anyone from the opposite sex.

In the paragraph above, you risk conveying the wrong meaning, which is that Melissa may be a lesbian. Something more like: ...but I'd never be interested because a part of me can never again love anyone of the opposite sex.

This leaves us with a mystery, but without giving anything away. And without steering us in one direction or another.

The room is pleasantly bathed in the soft yellow morning light and the ironwood-colored secretary is being showered by tiny specks of clothes fiber and dust.

Be careful of words with double meanings. In the paragraph above, you mean a secretary desk, a piece of furniture, but we stumble for a second because we're not sure at first. Whenever there's the slightest chance for misinterpretation, always clarify.

The eyes are piercing, even though they look just like mine.

The sentence above is too vague in meaning. It doesn't hurt to take the time to explain what you mean. And still not give too much away.

"How am I to say this..." He looks away and lays his eyes on, apparently, a white plant vase, placed on the corner of the office. I remain quiet, nothing occurs to me. "I have an odd request. It's not related to your work here as a secretary, but I don't know to whom I should address this."

Important: in the paragraph above, you make this same mistake on a frequent basis. Look at the same thing copied below:

"How am I to say this..." He looks away and lays his eyes on, apparently, a white plant vase, placed on the corner of the office.

I remain quiet, nothing occurs to me.

"I have an odd request. It's not related to your work here as a secretary, but I don't know to whom I should address this."

See the differences? The paragraph breaks are important and keeps the reader aware of who is speaking and who isn't.

"Don't you feel like having kids?" Her question pops out of the blue. I'm left unarmed.

In the sentence above, change the flow so that we have some nice variations. See the same sentence below: (and note again, the important paragraph breaks)

"Don't you feel like having kids?"

Angelina's question pops out of the blue. I'm left unarmed. Or,
Angelina's question pops out of the blue and leaves me unarmed.

I think Melissa's first name comes too late in the story? Have her boss call her by name.

Worth repeating: clearly delineate and identify who's speaking. It's better to be overly redundant that to leave a reader wondering who said what.

The moment I was dreading has come. I walk with a full bottle to baby Grace and her cry lowers to a murmur. I have to take her in my arms to feed her. Once again, I find myself holding old memories on the other side of my conscience. Hold it, it's almost over. The boss is almost there. He has to. I involve her tiny body with my nervous but firm hands and lay her in my lap in the angle that favors her to swallow better. Not long ago, I was doing this, every day. I rock her up and down in my arms, next to my breasts that had already fed a child. I child I neglected.

I copied the above because it is the most critical paragraph in the story. This means it needs to be the most well written part of the story. This one paragraph might take ten rewrites before it's right. It's close as it is, but could be better. I would leave off the last sentence, also. We don't need to know that yet. Just a thought.

Well done, my friend. One of the best pieces of its kind I have ever read. Seriously.
Bob

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75
75
Review of Little Djamila  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi, Iris,

Powerful, unflinching, scary and both real and surreal. Poor Djamila is the universal child who, regardless of race, age, country, or any other unimportant details, symbolizes the plight of youngsters everywhere who are at the mercy of a frightening and dangerous world. Thus your subtitle: "The reality about a girl I know. The reality about a girl you know." is spot-on, as they say. The only change might be to say: "The reality about a girl I know. The reality about a child you know." You can see the point I'm driving at. Maybe my version is better, but not necessarily. You decide.

We suppose that this story is more relevant in some places, mostly third-world locations, than it might be in America or elsewhere, but one shouldn't be distracted by what is an otherwise unimportant detail. The terror and horror described here is the same regardless of where it happens, irrespective of poverty or wealth.

You've done a great job here of creating the dismal atmosphere, scenes and conditions where such incidents are likely frequent and remain as unsolved assaults, rapes, even murders. Or simply filed away as missing person reports.

You do run the slight risk of stereotyping the scenario, however. By this, I mean to suggest that you indeed create the "perfect storm" for this kind of incident to take place. We'd almost be disappointed if it didn't. In that sense, the story is somewhat predictable. That said, I'm not sure anything needs fixing, or should be fixed. More important is that you, as the writer, remain sensitive and aware that we sometimes build guillotines first, and then create the victim to suit the instrument of execution. Instead of the other way around. Does that make sense? In this context, your story would work just as well taking place in an aristocratic, upscale neighborhood, the only requirement being an alleyway, if that much.

I love what you've done, however, and I think it works extremely well as written.

As always, this kind of writing is composed of two or three basic elements: content, continuity, and grammatical execution. Everything here shines and presents the general impression that you, as the writer, are fluent in both the language used, and the circumstances that take place.

The good news is that this story is very close to being perfect. The bad news is that "very close" is still a long way from "being" perfect. *Smile* The work should be kept in a special place, wherever you keep your "keepers". The value of an item like this lies in its future use as a publishable short story, submitted to any number of publications. Or, as part of an anthology of short stories and poems. Or still yet, as the basis for a longer, much expanded version.

This is not to say, though, that the piece is even close to being publishable as is. The story needs lots of minor corrections. The tenses are off here and there, plus word choices and sentence structures are awkward at times. While they are all easy fixes, the object is to learn the mistakes and not repeat them.

I must confess, at this point, that I don't get into serious editing anymore. Or do so rarely. Not that you'll do the same, but too often in the past, I've spent time demonstrating improvements and making corrections, only to have the writer come back and tell me they didn't care about any of that stuff, or weren't interested in learning, or the particular piece I fixed was something they never cared about anyway.

So I learned my lesson. Never get into engine mechanics unless invited to do so, and only when the person is 100% serious and committed to becoming a fine-tuned writing machine. For me, there is no such thing as casual corrections. Nor should there be for you, either.

Hey, it's a lot easier on me if you want to do this just for fun. Count me in. With that in mind, just file this story away as 80% to 90% complete and be done with it. In which case my review is a solid four stars and the story deserving of every bit of praise I've given it.

It's certainly no more complicated than that. Which is as it should be. You just let me know when you want to get down into the trenches, so to speak, and get a little muddied and bloodied -- if ever. In other words, don't wear anything that you can't afford to get mussed and soiled. *Smile* Or not. I'm pretty nonchalant about things, regardless of how you want to handle them. Whether uber seriously, or just to learn by rote, meaning you just keep doing as you have done in the past.

And there's certainly nothing wrong with that. Seriously. *Smile*

Bob

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