A sardonic take on fracking. We won't make extensive use of renewable energy when we can make vast amounts of money selling hydrocarbons.


General Impression:  Do you want this poem to be an allegory?  I see no mention whatsoever of fracking in the poem itself.  The title does mention the term, but a surprising number of readers will skip the title.  I found myself craving fracking images woven in with trepanning images.  And maybe a little electroshock therapy to boot (explosion used in oil mining, of course)!  A very tall order, of course, but you write poetry on a very high level. I don't doubt that this will be a perfect five-star poem when you are finished.

Originality: The rape of Mother Earth is hardly a new theme, but the metaphor you are using here (trepanning = exploratory drilling for petroleum products) is truly amazing.  I would like to see it developed a bit more.

Vocabulary: Your words are mostly well-used and precise, but I am confused by stanza 3.  Why did you name five brain parts with no further explanation?  Why are they in this particular order?  Even as biologist I had trouble understanding your reasoning, although I probably could make a few guesses

Form: The three-line stanzas seem to fit for some reason. Perhaps you are suggesting repetitive rhythm of a drill?  I think your dry, Dr.Spock-like narration is particularly good.  I feel as if this is written by an an alien research team that has abducted and is dissecting a living human.

Imagery: I would like some clearer visual imagery, but you can take that with a grain of salt.  Imagist poetry is my favorite kind. The imagery is good in stanzas 2 and 4 but weak in the rest of the poem. This is not to say that I found stanzas 1, 3, and 5 weaker than the others.  Stanza 1 is strong and has a good hook to draw the reader in-- the timeless issue of separating soul from body. Stanza 5 is also quite good, and ends the poem with a clear message, at least to me.

Message/Theme: Your overall message is very clear to me.  We are willing to extract whatever we find useful from Mother Earth, including her soul.  Non-scientists will also probably pick up the meaning, but that's largely due to the title.

A brilliant idea and an ambitious poem, Mike.  I look forward to the final version.  And welcome to Inkstained!

(Note:  1. You can save the various versions of your poem as revisions.  2. You can agree or disagree with this view but clicking on the up or down arrow).

The sunrise I take in through the tongue,clouds tasting like distant mountains,looms over flat daily expectations-I want to climb through to distant adventures: the mornings there will each taste new;I’ll ...


General Impression: A lovely thought stream which could turn into an excellent poem with some editing.

Originality:  How could I not give you five stars for originality?  This seems to be the thought/impression stream of a ghost or someone who is in a trance.  Or perhaps the narrator is the universal "watcher" we sometimes meet in meditation.

Flow: With the caveat that one probably shouldn't critique the flow in a thought-stream too harshly (since the flow was probably largely subconscious), it troubles me that this piece opens with such an airy universal feel, then seems to narrow its scope towards the end, getting tighter and tighter until it places us in the here and now.  If there must be a transition between the universal and the present moment, I would rather see it go the other way.  That often makes for better poetry.

Imagery: Considering what I said in the above section, I think the last stanza could use some editing, unless it's your goal to narrow down this piece at the end.  I start to feel claustrophobic with the phrase "the houses are close together."  This section seems at odds with the tone of the rest of the piece.

Unfortunately, I'm not good at thought stream writing, so I can't offer any specific suggestions for improvement.  However, I did notice that you used some synesthesia at the beginning of the poem.  This is a very effective tool for this type of writing, as it jolts us out of our usual logical mindset. Using more of this technique could work very well and might be employed in the final paragraph to open it up a bit.

Message/Theme:  I don't think this piece needs a strong message; it's an impressionistic description of what it feels like to be in an altered mind-state.  And it does that very well. A very creative piece, Brad!

Red eyes, Pale face, Breathing only smoke of death. Enlightened and Surfaced With pending rents and bills to pay. I go out in the day dream, Where broken smile and ...


General Impression:  I think you have talent as a writer but need to work on your editing (as do just about all of us!)  This feels like two poems instead of one.  (I'll explain that below).  Also, I know Inkstained messed with your format, but you will find that this is a common problem when posting on different sites.  I don't see a "center text" option here, but you should at least retain your paragraph breaks. Therefore, I'm going to review the version on your blog, as that is the format you want.

By the way, if you click on the "Feedback" button here, you can get good tech support.  The site founder is a writer himself.

Originality: I like your voice very much, and it's all your own! The most striking part of this poem is that the narrator's mother is described as a lover until stanza 4.  I'm not sure if you intended this blurring of identities.  If not, you may want to establish early on who the narrator is speaking of.

Form: I think your form works well to convey your meaning.  The stanza breaks seem to be at the right places, and the centering of the quote from the mother clearly sets it apart from the rest of the poem.

My only critique is that you seem to have some formal lines mixed into this free verse poem. (That's why I feel as if there are two poems here instead of one). For instance, the beginning of stanzas one and three seem to echo each other.  If you want a lot of repetition in your poem, you should probably use a poetry form such as pantoum or any of the many others.  There is a Facebook group called "Mindful Poetry" that works exclusively with form poems.  I can refer you to the group owner if you are interested in form poetry.

Flow:  This is a very lovely stream of images, but I think you need to pick one or two images/themes that you want to stand out.  For instance, you mention the mother breaking out of a cage.  This might be a good theme to weave through the poem.  The choice of theme(s) is yours, of course, but give the reader something a bit stronger to latch onto by repeating one or two major themes.

Imagery:  One of the strongest parts of your poem.  There is some color symbolism here that you may or may not have intended.  You mention the colors red, white, blue, and pink.  This says "All-American Mom" to me. One might even take this a bit further, as pink is now the symbol of the breast cancer crusade, and speculate what it is that the mother may be dying of.

Message/Theme: The pain and anguish of this poem is very clear, and I had no trouble understanding your heartfelt message. If you are a beginning poet, Bravo! And keep writing.

(You have the option of agreeing or disagreeing with this review by clicking on the "up" or "down" arrows below).

A chant poem about labourers, with a historic feel.


General Impression:  You are incredibly talented, Anita, and very prolific. Being prolific can be a disadvantage, though. Sometimes I get the feeling that you could put more time into individual poems, and (although this is a strong poem) I think this is one of those times.

With the caveat that I know how hard it is to change a repeating line in a poem:  For me, the first lines in each stanza are strong and the repeating line is weak.  (Not that I'm creative enough to improve it, but I know you are).  One of the strengths of this poem is the universal feel it has.  This theme will be popular forever.

Originality: Not a particularly original theme, but it's timeless, and the poem is strong enough to make up for the fact that the theme is common.  

Form: There is no doubt in my mind that you understand chant poems (and form poetry in general) very well.  I can't remember specifications for the chant poem, but I don't think there's a prohibition against the repeating line rhyming with the others.  If you could manage this, the poem would be tighter and more compelling.  Even as it is, it would work very well as a chant for laborers.

Imagery: I particularly like the way you chose your words so carefully that we cannot date this later than the late 1800s due to your omission of modern imagery.  Also, this poem has a strikingly plaintive note in the last line, almost as strong as in the lyrics of Old Man River: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/showboat/olmanriver.htm).  I imagine just about every slave (including modern one who are slaves to their work) has had that thought.

Message/Theme: It came through loud and clear!  As I said above, even without any edits, this poem would work as a rhythmic chant for workers.  A fine poem, classic in nature, and certainly better than I could ever manage with the chant form.

(PS: You have the option of agreeing or disagreeing with this review by pressing the up or down button).


General Impression: Your work is very creative, enjoyable, and thought-provoking.  I am going to limit my comments to the first and last poems, which provide more material to critique than the two very short poems.

Originality: You have an incredible mind, and I'm always blown away by the wide scope of your vision and the abundance of your thoughts. Your muse provides enough material to keep 10 poets busy!   

Your challenge here is to narrow your vision a bit for the sake of the reader and try is limit the number of ideas you present.

Language Rules: Poem #1 could use a bit of editing to make it easier for the reader to follow.  For instance, if you remember to include a space after each comma, this would improve readability. Also, in Poem #1, line 6:  Do you mean "we're"? If so, I would break this line into two and add a question mark, as it's a bit hard to parse now: "We're lost/is not lost but a new start?"

Vocabulary:  Your abundant word flow is incredible.  I often learn new words from your work, and when I look them up, I generally find them to be used well and in context. I'm curious to know if this all flows from your muse. Do you ever have to resort to a rhyming dictionary?

Imagery: Your imagery is quite strong but confusing at times.  For instance, poem #1 has a universal feel of gazing at the sun and pondering the return of summer.  But these lines baffle me: "That turned away in angst/A promise of real beauty/With no assignment of a duty,"  It's not clear how these lines are related to the idea of summer (or a lack thereof).  Are you commenting on the fact that we expect Mother Nature to "deliver" her services no matter how badly we treat her?

Poem #4 is very strong until the last two lines, which I would change or eliminate. This piece reminds me of the art of Rebecca Kunz, who paints pictures of animals that often include symbols of navigation.  If you change or eliminate the last two lines, you could remain in the avian point-of-view (or at least the avian/human POV) which is very compelling.  (Link to Rebecca Kunz's work.Check out the bee image especially: http://treeoflifestudio.net/artwork-gallery/#gallery).

Message/Theme: In spite of any issues I mentioned above, I had no difficulty understanding the themes.  Seasonal transition is a universal theme, difficult for both humans and our non-human relatives.  In northern climes, we pine for the return of the sun.  Your compassion for all of creation shines through these poems, Richard.

(PS: You have the option of agreeing or disagreeing with this review by pressing the up or down button).


I wrote this poem upon visiting my 100-year-old mother in the nursing home in 2011.


Hi Irina!  I'm sorry it took me so long to get to this review.  I am honored that you considered my suggestions.

General Impression: This poem is so much improved that I don't even recognize it!  You've really given us a piece of your heart here, writing with tenderness, compassion, and excellent imagery.

Originality: Visiting a nursing home falls somewhere on the scale of unpleasant to horrible for me.  (As a matter of fact, I agree with the 2/3s of people in a recent survey who said that they's rather die than go into a nursing home).  

But you've pointed out something profound and lovely. Memory loss may allow nursing home residents to live in the moment and enjoy their time there.  You might want to consider changing your title to reflect this.  I think it's the most profound idea in your poem.

Flow: The flow is quite good. The only part that tripped me up a bit was the introduction of the pregnant nurse.  The image is not at all out of place in your poem, but it would be nice if it could be worked in a bit more gradually.  (Perhaps at the end of the stanza instead of the beginning?).

Imagery: You've used some good and fresh imagery in a poem about a subject that is not uncommon for writers.  I particularly like the contrast between the butterfly and the wheelchair. It reminds me of excellent movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, even though your poem is not about "locked-in syndrome," but rather about people who have lost most of their memories. I also like your suggestion that living without memories is like living in a foreign land because everything seems new.

Message: There are two points-of-view here, both eloquently written.  You've managed to tell us about your own feelings at the same time as you relate the experience of a nursing-home resident.  This is something I could not do and would probably not even attempt. Bravo, Irina!

This poem is too obvious to need a summary although it is long.


Hi Umar!  Sorry to be so scarce online.  As I'm sure you know, July is the biggest travel month in the US, and I've been partying it up in New Mexico with my gatos.

Thanks you SO MUCH for answering my challenge, although I'm not sure why you refer to it as a "jukebox call out."  It's not an expression I've heard before and it seems a bit crude for the quality of your poetry!

General Impression:  Ambitious and creative as always, although I think it needs more editing. I at times got the impression that there is more than one poem here.  But there are tons of good ideas and images, and I like the way you have made the poetic reproach multi-cultural and timeless.  (I think perhaps it's the material on homosexuality and trans-genderism that sticks out and makes me think another poem is needed).

Flow: There were some abrupt voice changes that tripped me up.  I know that it's often your style to blend ancient voices with modern and "hip" ones, so I'll try to give you some specific examples.  

Part 1 gives the modern scene, part 2 gives the Biblical/mythological scheme, and part 3 looks ahead to the future, in which the narrator seems to be anticipating the return of a Kali-like goddess.  (In my opinion, Kali is about to kick our asses with global climate change, but that's beside the point). 

I think perhaps the inclusion of the Aztecs (at least in part 2) is problematic, as this is not mythology but rather history.  Also, as this is about gender reversal, it might fit in part 3 better than in part 2, or perhaps into a different poem altogether.

Imagery:  Outstanding.  How do you get your mind to travel like this, then get it all down on paper so eloquently? Wow.  My mind runs to such large themes on writing poetry, but I can never get it all down on paper. My absolute favorite lines, which are subtle, original, and hilarious all at once: "An echo of Adam’s soul, a reminder of Lilith’s demanded role/Before the ancient world reversed its heavenly pole." That line is pure genius, as it covers not only Lilith's supposed demands to take the upper position in sex, but also the reversal of societies from matriarchal to patriarchal as soon as war became a critical factor in tribal maintenance.

Message/Theme: Hardly a new topic, but you add a universality and freshness that I've never seen before by choosing to cover such a huge scope of time and varying your voices from ancient to modern. But I think the poem would be stronger and tighter if you saved the really modern stuff (acceptance of the LGBT community) for another piece.

In Summary:  This needs more editing, but the good stuff is there already and just needs some simplification so the reader doesn't get overwhelmed. Now that I have read a fair amount of your work, I don't think the phrase "poetic genius" is a stretch when applied to you.

  words float a-whirl around my head then from my fingers silent said like sweetest notes of soft refrain on a bed of pixels gently lain   then rearranged and ...


General Impression: I know I said I was going to stop giving advanced reviews of your work, but this poem struck me as outstanding among your writing, with lots of thought and work behind it.  I know you can write poems as easily as some people write postcards.  If this one rolled off your pen fully-formed, I think I'd rather not know, as I'm likely to turn green with envy.

Originality: Poets write a lot about poetry, but you have some fresh and original imagery in here.  I particularly like your reference to pixels (and therefore the importance of electronic media to poetry).  If you wanted to tinker with this poem (and I'm not necessarily saying that you should), you could try carrying this theme through a bit more.

Flow: With the caveat that I'm not great at examining rhythm, I read this poem as having perfect iambic rhythm (unstressed syllables following stressed syllables) with the exception of line nine.  If you didn't intend a natural pause here, you might want to correct this.  I've been told by more than one poet that they consider uneven iambic rhythm as an indication of amateur writing. That's their opinion, of course, but I think that if the rhythm is interrupted, there should be a good reason for it. Other than that one spot, this poem reads like pure music, which makes it very catching.

Imagery: The opening stanza has the strongest imagery, which is good, as it will help to snare readers.  I love the way you take us from the narrator's mental images to pixels on a computer screen in four short lines.  Although the vocabulary isn't particularly unusual, your image flow remains strong for the rest of your poem. I tripped a bit (meaning-wise) on the phrase "as nimble fingers heartstrings strum"  because this is a point-of-view change from reader to poet.  But I wouldn't change that line unless you can do so without interrupting the rhythm.

Message/Theme: The meaning of poetry is created somewhere between the mind of the poet and the mind of the reader, and this piece expresses that sentiment beautifully.  Your first two stanzas describe the act of creation, your third stanza describes the reaction(s) of your readers, and your fourth goes on to give a message that I think says a lot about you.  You love sharing with others and live to write. Beautiful work, Steve.

There rest placid lacrimal seasUnder the eyes' subtle foldsTwin reservoirs of the unredeemed; Not the spillage from hard losses; Nor the deepest mystery’s wateringsSalt water roils beneath the blues, Sweet ...


General Impression: This is pretty damn close to being a masterpiece due to its beauty and universality.  I'm not sure I will find much to critique here.

Originality: It's truly brilliant that you compare "happy" tears to fresh (sweet) water and sad tears to salt water.  You make crying seem like the natural ebb and flow of the waters on the earth's surface.

Flow: I think the flow is excellent even though the imagery is complex. The tears well up in the first stanza, flow naturally in the second, and are stymied by the handkerchief of civilization in the last stanza.

As a biologist I was familiar with the term "lacrimal," but I think the average reader will have to look it up.  That's a small quibble, though, since this is undoubtedly the right word to use.  (Also, shouldn't "eyes," as a possessive, have an apostrophe after it?)

Imagery: This is the strongest part of your poems and the glue that holds it together. I will list some of my favorite images:

1. placid lacrimal seas; twin reservoirs; welling brimsYou tell us right off that this poem will be about not only tears but about the flow of water in general.

2. Salt water roils beneath the blues,/Sweet water flows over the joys: These are two magnificent lines. What a creative way to describe the fact that tears convey not only extreme sadness but extreme happiness! And I love the double entendre you created with the word "blues."

3. Checked by shirtsleeves and handkerchiefs/Before they resolve openly in air:  Not only is this imagery evocative (I can feel the absorbent fabric getting wet), but the rest of your poem sets up the imagery so that we naturally think of shirtsleeves and handkerchiefs as a dam, something artificial and not intended by nature.

Message/Theme: Strong and well-rendered.  Tears are a natural phenomenon that, as a civilized race, we try to suppress too often.

 Overall: I think this is the first perfect advanced review I have given, and it's well-deserved.  I will of course steal this for my blog eventually if you let me (At the moment it's quite Umar-heavy!).  And I surely hope the Tumblr #poetry editors pick up on this poem-- it needs featuring.

Sitting at my desk, I can see the perfectly maintained garden of my neighbours. The tightly cut hedges rise around their freshly mowed lawn, accompanied by the sound of babbling ...


General Impression: This is a poingnant little snippet that left me wanting more!

Originality: I think you've chosen a great topic.  Not many writers consider elder love, and I think the idea is ripe for exploration, especially now as the baby boomers are starting to reach retirement age.  There should be a good audience for writing on this topic.

Flow: I that found your detailed description of the scene flowed well, and the flow revealed something in and of itself: the meticulous care elderly couples may lavish on each other, which comes partly from being so familiar with each others' wants and needs.  The last line is the only weak spot I found (I'll address that below).

Form: Other than being on the short side, I think the form you have chosen works well.  My only critique is that you may want to consider re-working the last line.  I would like to see something a bit more creative.  How can you write about a kiss so that the readers know it's between an elderly couple?  Or is there some other means of expression that might work better to express the fact that this couple have known and loved each other practically forever?  Also, I think you might safely eliminate the last line to keep the focus on the couple rather than switching it back to the narrator. 

Imagery: The imagery in the first paragraph is one of the strongest aspects of this piece. The reference to the narrator observing the scene while working at their desk provides a strong frame-- the narrator is still relatively young but it observation a stage of life he or she is likely to experience later.

The elderly man's clothing nails his age and generation quite well. The landscape you draw speaks of the way elderly people often enjoy a calm and controlled life, and the fact that their long life experience has taught them how to live this life.  The image of the fountain in the middle is excellent, as it speaks to the passion still present in the hearts of the characters. I don't know if you are interested in psychological symbols, but your first stanza describes a mandala ( a symbol of the psyche), although you may not have intended this.

Characters:  I like the fact that the characters are not too developed, as they represent an entire generation rather than just two people. The images seem more important than the characters, and this lends strength to your piece.

Overall, this is well-written and I would like to see it expanded!