Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

-Wilfred Owen

Rating: 6/10

In the circus tent of a hurricane
designed by a drunken god
my extravagant heart blows up again
in a rampage of champagne-colored rain
and the fragments whir like a weather vane
while the angels all applaud.

Daring as death and debonair
I invade my lion’s den;
a rose of jeopardy flames in my hair
yet I flourish my whip with a fatal flair
defending my perilous wounds with a chair
while the gnawings of love begin.

Mocking as Mephistopheles,
eclipsed by magician’s disguise,
my demon of doom tilts on a trapeze,
winged rabbits revolving about his knees,
only to vanish with devilish ease
in a smoke that sears my eyes.

-Sylvia Plath

Rating: 7/10

One morning the spirit of my lover’s uncle returned
there was no fanfare no terror only a blue silhouette

translucent above our bed growing dim
I was the sole witness to this specter quiet

as the rising sun waking overhead I awakened
cold to see an Aegean blue figure hovering bedside

through his gaze and mustachioed grin
on the other side of his face a dazzling tremolo

of morning light streamed into this darkened space
and later that evening as we moved

through the neighborhood streets dead with aging trees
frozen sidewalks led us freely into the moonlight ahead

-Reuben Quesada

Rating: 3/10

So this is the first poem that I’m going to comment on since it is simply awful. Which, as I mentioned in Site News is a privilege reserved for anything that warrants partial or total criticism. This is one of the latter cases. It’s almost as if my work here is done before I’ve started because it is so obviously bad, do I need to say anything? There is no punctuation, so I can’t comment on enjambment. The would be good enjambment present is so by happenstance; there is no rhythm; no rhyme. There’s no intellectual or emotional content- it’s apparently about the beauty of death’s worldly forms; actually just a bad, overwritten description of a ghost. The imagery is clichéd and the writing is as dead as the theme.

a blue silhouette/Aegean blue figure– repetitive.

Aegean blue/dazzling tremolo of morning light– ridiculous choice of words.

through the neighborhood streets dead with aging trees
frozen sidewalks led us freely into the moonlight ahead– trite nonsense.

 

That’s what misery is,
Nothing to have at heart.
It is to have or nothing.
It is a thing to have,
A lion, an ox in his breast,
To feel it breathing there.

Corazon, stout dog,
Young ox, bow-legged bear,
He tastes its blood, not spit.

He is like a man
In the body of a violent beast
Its muscles are his own…

The lion sleeps in the sun.
Its nose is on its paws.
It can kill a man.

-Wallace Stevens

Rating: 8/10

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.

She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

-Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Rating: 8/10