Wednesday, February 4, 2009



Rolling hills and flag waving patriots patrol borders
while jobs migrate overseas.

Patriots patrol borders while families stand in cascading
lines for food and rent vouchers.

While families stand and wait cascading lines of caskets are shipped
to final resting places beneath rolling hills and flag waving.

*This is my first contribution to Totally Optional Prompts. This needs serious work. Any suggestions welcomed. To submit or read more, go here.


Linda Jacobs said...

I really like the way you used repetition in this poem. It makes an important point and the repeated words help to get that across!

susan said...

Thanks Linda, I like the form and the message. Most of the images work for me. I'm not sold on my word choices. It doesn't click yet.

christine said...

You have a way with sound, S. I can tell you working with it. There's a mournful quality to the flow of the lines, the sound, in addition to the meaning.

Anonymous said...

I love the way the repeated words create a sense of "rolling," of "cascading" sadness.

susan said...

Hi Christine,
I lean heavily on sound. It's the device I'm most comfortable with. The cadence isn't quite right yet. I've had this for a while and my guy's mantra about revision and truly working through a poem is grinding my gears. lol

Thanks for coming, Angie, appreciate you commenting.

Stan Ski said...

This works for me - so many thoughts expressed despite the repetition.

susan said...

Hi Stan, well, the purpose of the exercise was to use repetition. lol We were encouraged to poetic forms such as the triolet, pantoum or villanelle or the device alone- repetition. Thanks for coming by. I appreciate your comments.

anthonynorth said...

A sad reality of much of the west nowadays. Your use of words is effective here.

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Hi Susan, you make some big statements here and I think your message comes across well!

bunnygirl said...

I really like the form of this poem, with the repeated words moving to the front, then the end or each stanza. I think you're right that this could be tightened up a bit, but the "bones" of it are great and the rest is detail.

Very cool.

Tumblewords: said...

Surely reality is encompassed. Might work to shorten the lines and the spacing between - to me, this reads as a series of sentences. Repetition works well in this.

susan said...

Hi Tumblewords,
I'll revisit line lengths and line breaks.I rarely use a long line length so I'd thought I experiment to see how length affects the read. Thanks.


I appreciate the desire to improve. I have recently seen great benefit to look more closely at the "rules" of free verse (is that heretical?). My experience is that long lines speed up while short lines slow down the cadence. A book I've found *VERY* helpful is Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook. Its a quick read but life changing!

Rethabile said...

This works well, Susan. Because it's short, it needs more sharpness, more oomph for less. Scissors.

But I wouldn't know where to start, it being such a good poem already.

one more believer said...

i love the visions of america you present and the rhythm of flags waving

gel(Emerald Eyes) said...

Strong use of sound with alliteration
and repetition of phrases amd consonants such as "s", "l", "f
reinforces good thoughts. Imagery is conveyed well, also.

You asked for suggestions:
1)Try shortening the length of lines in your poem.
2)Also, try eliminating words such as "and", "are" , "while". That could make your poem stronger, but it's personal choice.
3)Some stronger words could help in places, such as stronger verb for "for" as in "for food and rent vouchers"- I omitted suggestions for stronger word choices in other places because that needs to come from you, not be written by me.

If we were face to face, I could work with you for revision so it's your words but I can't teach in comments.

I do teach online courses in writing and poetry....

I implemented a few suggestions below to see how you like it. If so, please let me know. My email is

Rolling hills
flag waving patriots
patrol borders
jobs migrate overseas.

Patriots patrol borders
families stand
cascading lines
(for< insert stronger verb here) food

Families stand, wait
cascading caskets
final resting places
beneath rolling hills
flag waving