A Poem for the CONTEST!

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    @katthewriter @libby @evelyn @scribbles @kb-writer @sir-leeds @k-a-grey @evelyn @w-o-holmes

    I want to enter this poem in the contest. I need your help–please critique, praise, give advice, anything! I want to know if this is bland, if it means something, or if it’s powerful to you. Say anything that it made you think of or made you feel. Is the pacing good? Is “I” overused? Does the sentence structure need variance? Are the ending stanzas to -winter- and – spring – cheesy?




    The world is grey:

    Old snow clings to the lawn,

    the trees are dark and wet,

    and the clouds frown.


    I hold my tea to my chest.

    When I finally taste it,

    The liquid is cold.


    A drop spills and trails

    down the edge of my mug like a tear.


    Like the tears that run down my face.


    I smell the aroma of jasmine,

    The crushed flowers

    Diffused in my tea.


    Tomorrow seems

    so far away.




    I wake up in the darkness

    Just before dawn:

    The world’s loneliest hours.


    Staring at the shadowy ceiling,

    I can’t fall back asleep.

    I don’t want to start a new day,

    But after a while, I get out of bed

    Like always.


    I wander onto the back porch,

    And for an hour

    I pretend that this is all there is:

    Absorbing the sky’s colors

    Dripping and fading into each other

    While the sun rises.


    I sip my tea,

    And savor the warmth that floods my body.

    The scents and flavors of lavender and chamomile

    Envelope me like an embrace.


    The wind plays with my tangled hair,

    And for a moment, the world is quiet.


    It isn’t so heavy

    When it’s quiet.



    As the sun soaks into my skin,

    I peek at the reflection in my drink,

    The ice cubes clinking together,

    And the sweet tea’s golden filter

    Making my reflection cartoonish.


    My bright lips smile under my sun hat,

    And this time the smile reaches my eyes.


    The dandelions laugh and nod at me.

    I take one and blow his fluffy mane over the grass.



    Raindrops make music on the rooftop.

    The wind outside my windowpane

    whisks red and gold leaves through the air.


    I bury myself in a blanket,

    Curling my toes in my wool socks,

    And wrapping my fingers around a mug of hot chai.


    I cradle my tea;

    its fragrance sweeps me

    to exotic worlds

    As I open a new book.


    For a few hours,

    Reality retreats to a corner

    While my eyes grow wide.


    The raindrops’ steady rhythm slows,

    then stops.


    I look out my window;

    The limp leaves are still dripping.

    In the after-silence.


    And I think to myself—

    Sometimes when it seems

    He has left you to struggle alone,

    Is when He is still with you

    Healing you in quiet ways.


    Spreading God's love until I can see seven billion smiles. 🙂 https://sevenbillionsmiles.home.blog

    Livi Ryddle

    @emma-starr Beautiful!! No, “I” isn’t used too much. I think it’s perfect!!

    “Enough! Be quiet! I can’t hear myself think! I can’t hear my teeth chatter!"

    Sir Leeds

    Hi @emma-starr,

    There are some good lines here. I especially enjoyed:

    “It isn’t so heavy

    When it’s quiet.”

    And “The limp leaves are still dripping

    In the after-silence.”


    It seems like this poem is trying to show mood changes through the seasons. Is that right? If so, you seem to be doing well at showing instead of telling and engaging the senses, but I know Story Embers likes a little more embellishment than what I’m seeing here (at least that’s the feedback I’ve received from them). I might try using more seasonal metaphors and similes to explain the narrator’s mood.

    Also, I’d check the tone of your words. Words like “liquid” and “aroma” set the mood for a formal poem but “cartoonish” sounds like a scratch on a Beethoven record.

    And I’d try revising the end. It comes on a little forcefully and possibly a little preachy. I’d try either intertwining talking about/to God throughout the poem or cutting the last stanza out altogether. Whatever seems best to you.

    Take all of this with a grain of salt. Story Embers’ editors and I don’t seem to see eye to eye much these days when it comes to poetry. I hope this helps though!

    "We are far too easily pleased." - C. S. Lewis


    @anne_the_noob14 Thank you!!

    I appreciate your feedback! What I’m actually trying to convey is a process of healing over the course of a year. As the seasons go by (with similar themes in each), the girl becomes more and more reconciled. In that light, what changes to you think should happen? Maybe what’s happening in the last section (fall) is too arbitrary to mean “mostly healed.” Also, with healing as the theme, does that make the last stanza fit any better in your eyes?

    Would you elaborate on what you mean by “embellished?” I’m not sure I know what you/they mean.


    Spreading God's love until I can see seven billion smiles. 🙂 https://sevenbillionsmiles.home.blog

    Sir Leeds

    Hi @emma-starr,
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Okay, I can kind of see your theme now. Hmm…alright, these are just my thoughts, so take them or leave them, but I think that if your goal is to portray healing over the course of a year, you could experiment with the narrator struggling with an actual physical ailment that either gets better over the year (like a broken bone or something) or changes with the seasons and weave that physical healing in with the mental/emotional/spiritual healing. Does that make sense?</p>
    And I’d tend to agree with you, fall seems a bit back and forth at the moment. I think you could either move fall to the beginning of the poem and make summer the end (which would break the whole calendar year thing going on) or represent fall as a bit less gloomy.

    And the last stanza…it makes sense, yes, but to me at least, it’s still very sudden and in your face. It reminds me of that famous “Footprints in the Sand” poem. Now if that’s what you’re going for, then by all means go for it. Nobody can tell you how you should or shouldn’t write your poem, otherwise it wouldn’t be yours. I’m just saying that it seems a bit abrupt and heavy handed for my taste.

    And as for embellishment, I guess I’m not entirely sure what they meant either. For full context, I sent them a poem about kids playing hide and seek in a park. The narrator hides in a leaf pile far from the park. I was very descriptive about the smell of corn dust that we can’t escape in the fall here in Iowa, the cracks of brown and gray light, how itchy the leaves were, etc. In the end, the other kids give up and the narrator basks in his victory for so long that he actually falls asleep in the leaf pile. When he wakes up and gets out of the leaf pile, it’s dark and his friends are all gone. Story Embers’ response was that it needed embellishment, rhyme, or meter. I added rhyme and resubmitted, but they asked for more embellishment. I think they wanted more metaphors, similes, fanciful language, etc., but I didn’t want that for my poem. I thought more flowery language (the kind I tend to see in Story Embers’ poetry) would weigh the poem down and take away from its child-like simplicity, so I pulled the submission.

    If I were you, I’d dig through what Story Embers publishes for poetry and keep the word “embellishment” in mind. Think about how each poem is embellished. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to look at how many rhyme or have meter vs. how many are more free verse. If what you find seems to match the feel of your poem or what you’d like it to be, I’d say go for it. If not, maybe submit a different poem for the contest or take a look at other publications/contests for this poem. http://www.submittable.com has been a great resource for me.

    "We are far too easily pleased." - C. S. Lewis


    @emma-starr I love it!

    However, like @sir-leeds said, Story Embers has a very particular style they like and I have my own style and you have yours.  *shrugs*  I’m not sure what to tell you. 😛

    K. A. Grey

    @emma-starr I think it’s lovely.   I think you have some great images in there, but you could, as @sir-leeds said, “embellish” it a bit.  For example, try not to use trite expressions.  We know that winter is grey and cold, now let us see it in a new way.  So instead of saying the tea is cold, you could say it has “lost its warmth, lost its soul”.   Maybe that’s a little weird, but you get the idea. xD  Use vivid verbs and nouns instead of is/was +adjective combinations.  Also, cartoonish does seem a little out of place… maybe “playful caricature”?

    Overall, I really like it.  You paint clear pictures that I can see in my mind, now just try to enhance those pictures.  I hope this helps!


    @sir-leeds @k-a-grey Thank you so so SO much for all the amazing feedback. 🙂 I’ll be sure to tag you all when I post the next edit!

    Would you post that poem about the children? I would love to read it! Also, I made an account with Submittable. 🙂 I didn’t know Footprints in the Sand when I wrote my poem, but I see the similarity that you mentioned after reading the footprints poem. I’m not a big fan of a sappy, emotional style, so I’ll see if I still want that last stanza.

    Yeah, I have pretty broad taste and writing style in poetry…and SE doesn’t seem to publish a very wide range. 🙁

    Spreading God's love until I can see seven billion smiles. 🙂 https://sevenbillionsmiles.home.blog

    Sir Leeds

    Hi @emma-starr,

    So glad to hear that our feedback has been helpful to you! Can’t wait to see the next draft of this poem. And here’s the poem you asked for. Like I said earlier, Story Embers turned it down mostly because it wasn’t embellished enough, but I really didn’t want this one to be overly embellished. I liked the straightforward language of the poem because it sounded like how a kid would retell the story. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it:



    One day, I want to say it was November,

    My friends and I played a game

    Of hide and seek in the city park

    And I’m pretty sure Billy was it.

    I found a leaf pile far from the slides

    And swingsets and burrowed in

    Until all was brown and gray

    And smelled like ladybugs and corn dust.

    I heard Billy yell, “Ready or not, here I come!”

    All muffled in the distance. I held my breath

    As long as I could and waited

    For him to come find me.

    Between crinkles and silence,

    I heard Billy shout, “I got you, Milly!”

    “No fair! I was first last time,” She whined,

    And one by one, he found all my friends,

    But not me. I waited and waited

    And waited, but nobody found me.

    They called out for me and said they gave up,

    And Milly even said she was worried about me,

    But nobody found me. I’d finally won

    And everybody knew it. It felt so good,

    I just stayed down in the itchy, warm leaves,

    And I guess I must’ve fallen asleep

    Because when I popped my head out and shouted,

    “I win!” to no one but the night sky

    And the lonely lamp posts, the only trace of my friends

    I could find was the emptiness around my bike.

    "We are far too easily pleased." - C. S. Lewis


    @sir-leeds I love your poem!

    I do see what Story Ember meant now about the embellishments. You’re not flaunting a bunch of different poetry techniques in this poem (but you do use vivid language). Also, the poem’s character is a child, so there is power in the simplicity of the character’s voice. 🙂

    I love the ending lines:

    “And the lonely lamp posts, the only trace of my friends

    I could find was the emptiness around my bike.”

    Spreading God's love until I can see seven billion smiles. 🙂 https://sevenbillionsmiles.home.blog

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