Wednesday, November 15, 2006

All Alone Now

I broke my palms on the shattered rocks
and puzzled to watch them bleed.

I plunged my face into the chilling tide
and struggled to pull in breath.

I bloated my gorge with salt water
to see the visions on the edge of the dark.

I torched the bridges that drifted past me
and my skin crackled in the blaze.

I bloodied your line and threw it back
and my heart stopped beating.

I flailed my limbs against the current
and my body flagged and sank.

I buoyed myself to the surface
and watched the alien shore recede.



  • This was written for the Wikifray poetry slam intended to be about the failure of redemption, and coincidentally about "the shucking off of things that have turned bad." (It seems that either failure is often self-inflicted.)
  • I've edited some lines (and fixed the link).


    LentenStuffe said...


    This is a very touching and honest poem, but also very suggestive of its undertows. That they are left to their own eddyings and undetected swirlings is perhaps for the best.

    I liked your progression, the way you constructed the metaphor, adding to it in very credible and provocative increments, and expanding its scope. But the word "foreign" is puzzling. It stands out in a jarring kind of way. I think your first impulse, or instinct, to use "alien" was better.

    Good luck.

    Keifus said...

    Crap. There are two references to "alien shore" that came to my mind. (The Lotos-Eaters I had to look up.) One, I've no desire to read, the other I admit only sheepishly having ever listened to. But I like the sound of the phrase.

    It's only very tangentially related to the subject below, which is something I'd like to make clear. I don't pretend to be in any real person's head (other than my own). It's a poem about "the failure of redemption," on request.


    Anonymous said...


    tiger barbs said...

    the anonymous wow above is me. the force of this one left me blinking and a bit discombobulated.

    i like the sound of alien shore too. you're not lifting a phrase, you're making an allusion[s].

    so, if you're ok with people thinking of either the song or the book [or both], then by all means, use alien in place of foreign. the fact that it's in use in at least two other [rather different] places just about makes it public domain anyway.

    poached the structure?! it's an excellent structure, and the fact that you saw it, found it good, and used it, isn't poaching. you need not apologize.

    i couldn't help remembering, reading your notes here, the fray exchange you and i had over plagiarism, conscious and unconscious.

    two lines that really hit me:

    I plunged my face into the chilling tide

    and especially

    I bloodied your line and threw it back

    Keifus said...

    Thanks a lot Tiger. I kind of hope it's out of me for a while.

    I remember the exchange, which is easing my mind. (As a months-late reply, I find it interesting how quickly computers transformed everything. In my nine years at the academy, they began as something that people were just realizing were cool to use for publishing and everything else. RPI in 1990 was cutting edge in their infiltration. I remember sad students queueing up our idiot print jobs in the old chapel that was the computing center. In grad school, I made up a few galley proofs with the rubber cement and all that. By 1999, everything was nearly crossed over to completely electronic.)

    twiffer said...

    one suggestion. have you considered changing this: I filled my belly with salt water to this: I bloated my belly with salt water? packs a bit more punch than filled, and creates an echoing "b" sound in every-other couplet.

    Keifus said...

    That one did cross my mind actually, but bloated seems more like an adjective to me (I don't often bloat something). But you're right about that phrase--I couldn't find anything to satisfy me in my couple hours on teh plane. Buoyed is too passive as well. (But I'll take symmetry where I can find it!)


    twiffer said...

    well, it is an adjective. poetic license, man! have no qualms about using an adjective as a verb, if you can make if work. "i bloated my belly" is just another, more concise, way of of saying "i filled my belly till it was bloated". but that just doesn't scan.

    but, just my opinion and all (and a far better offering than i gave. but i really hate the people who wrote the code i'm working on).

    Keifus said...

    Yours cracked me up, actually. I liked "jackass" and "fuckwit" as rhythmic punctuation.

    twiffer said...

    thanks. better stuff on my blog though.