If I believed in slow poisons
Then what crawls in the labyrinth of the veins
Kills by degree
There’s an antidote
But this grail
Is out of reach
So sat here
Wondering which breath will
Take me with it
So here, no one cares to ask
If this a smile
Or a rictus
These ironies shouldn’t escape any of us
As the last few moments fly
Like migrating birds
Would a touch
A kind word heal?
But suffused with the sorrow of
A kindness comes
Even if they’re too exhausted
No triage shows us hope
3 thoughts on “Slow Poison”
You have an incredible skill of being able to write about something in such a way that has, as its core, a precision of intent whilst simultaneously maintaining a versatility of application. I have made many attempts at writing something intensely personal, but in a way that makes it more a statement of a ubiquitous condition, only for it to result in being a somewhat awkward personal revelation that becomes its sole, overarching quality. You, though, don’t seem to lose the safety of that one-step-removed position of the spectator. Even when you write in the first person the quality of your words encourages the reader to adopt the role of narrator, rather than believing they’re maybe reading an excerpt from your diary.
If I may though, there’s one point in the verse that caused me to feel a break in the flow you’d established, and it’s the section that begins ‘So sat here…’
I read it believing it opened up a premise, but there was no forthcoming resolution to it. Let me see if an example might better explain what I mean.
So sat here (This ‘So’ makes the reader open a blank page in their mind. There is no pronoun in this section, so the reader doesn’t have a concrete picture. This makes them leave the image open and waiting for a definition to come. Also, this is where you seem to settle into an almost default habit of using the simple past or past participle of verbs in your writing, and it can create blockages in the reading experience as your readers need to consider which direction you want them to walk)
Wondering which breath will (this seems an odd place to break)
Take me with it (There is no punctuation to assist your readers with interpreting your meaning. I had to read ahead, in a kind of reconnaissance role to glean the information required, so I could then go back and read it as I think you meant it to be read. You can see how that can mar the whole desire you may have hoped to have your readers feel an empathy with you.
So, I’m sitting here,
wondering which breath
Will take me with it.
The punctuation, the use of the adjective ‘sitting’, and the use of a pronoun makes the reader see a complete picture in the present.
When we read our own words, we know exactly what our intention is, and so we often fail to see what might be, to others, obvious mistakes.
You then continue:
So here, no one cares to ask (You’ve opened another situation. This leaves the earlier one unresolved. You’ve also decided to use punctuation which absolves the reader of needing to consider potentially multiple interpretations which, in itself, can be a very clever way to engage your readers’ mind, but in this instance it makes your readers unsure of just what their role is in the writer/reader relationship.
If this a smile (I feel you may have missed out the word ‘is’)
Or a rictus
I hope this forensic analysis of a few lines hasn’t overstepped the boundary. I fully appreciate that writing is an intensely personal, and often isolated exercise, but it is surely our hope that our words are disseminated. If not for approbation then at least for the satisfaction of knowing, as we would quite rightly hope to believe, that an emotional response (and the correct one at that) was felt by our readers.
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Firstly thank you for taking the time to comment. The broken elements are deliberate, burnt tongue appropriations of language for effect. The wonderful thing about poetry is it’s subjectivity. I won’t tell you what inspired it, but that’s for you and you alone.
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hehehe I already liked this one 😉