How do you gauge degrees of misfortune? The fullness of despair may be at one extreme, as in Yusra by Maher, for whom we ache along with his mother. A bit further down the continuum is Stephen’s The Disenfranchisement of a Life, an existential denial of the blessings of life in the stark face of its evils. Finally, Star's Handwriting Frustration captures the bane of all writers whose words never come close to capturing the profundity of their idea - except perhaps in this case. Congratulations to these Front Page winners and to the honorably mentioned as well. Since we had only four judges there were only three HMs this week, although many poems deserved better. A fifth judge may have recognized three more.
Thanks to the judges who stepped up.
Yusra (Ease) by Maher Points 7+10+10=27
The Disenfranchisement of a Life by IdTakeABulletForYou Points 7+7+10=24
Handwriting Frustration by Star Points 4+10=14
Off the map by Poet on the Piano Points 4+4=8
Amen by Daniel Points 7
Never Changed by Trampled Angel Points 4
Yusra by Maher Points 10
Maher's poetry is always rich in characters and emotion, probably because Maher's storytelling voice is articulate and usually has me reading his words over and over. I did not know until I looked it up that "Yusra" is an Arabic word, and one word that is central to the theme of the poem and repeated in lines. The almost Gothic atmosphere provides the sense of hardship and hopelessness, this overwhelming burden on the mother whose heart breaks at this "stranger", pleading for a deliverance from the hell that depression can be. "verily, with every hardship comes ease" becomes an important mantra in this piece, and a tender yet adamant prayer from the mother, that her family know and understand how hardship can make them stronger, almost the balance of suffering with blessing and peace that may come from having to endure the darkest parts of life.
Yusra (Ease) by Maher Points 10
Maher's poem this week speaks of depression and the struggle and the fallout when it comes to your family. It affects everyone, you are on this rollercoaster that no matter how much you plead to get off you are on for the entire ride and then some. A mother's heartbreak over something she can't fix, she would take your pain if she could because that's what mother's do. His description of walls going up, color fading away, the warmth of the sun leaving, brings it all home. For anyone who has suffered from or is in the midst of of depression this hits home. Those shades of grey are never far away.
Yusra (Ease) by Maher Points 7
Oh this moved me greatly. Such a heartbreaking tale of a mother struggling to see her child suffer - which is arguably the worst pain in the world, and him battling his own demons, feeling worse knowing he's causing her pain. It's told so gently and so very poignantly that by the time I reached the last line I had tears in my eyes.
The Disenfranchisement of a Life by IdTakeABulletForYou Points 7
Stephen administers a generous dose of cynicism and misery throughout the whole of this piece, but the really miserable thing for me was that I nodded along to the vast majority of it. The idea that the sun which gives everything on this planet life is actually a catalyst for cancer or that people actually kill each other and commit foul acts like rape, are terrible ideas for young people to come to terms with as they enter adulthood. And just to top it all, the little bit of magic we all take for granted as children is nothing more than a happy lie told by our parents - certainly in relation to Santa and the Easter Bunny!
This struck a real chord with me as I was having a discussion with my wife not long back about this very subject. We have children who are entering that sort of age where you regret, as parents, that they cannot be protected from the evils of the world forever. Where you have to tell your son about drink and drugs and you have to warn your daughter about the dangers men can pose. And it made me so damn angry because I felt like I was being forced to take some of their innocence away to accommodate what is a rather troubled world, whether we like to admit it or not.
I applaud the writer's honesty and sincerity throughout this well written and well rhymed piece.
The Disenfrachisement of a Life by IdTakeABulletForYou Points 7
Stephen's poem this week shows how the innocence of childhood loses its sheen and luster as we grow up and realize how many things we thought were real simply are not. The Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, made up....even God can be questioned. Life has a way of wearing us down, bad things happen to us and the ones we love causing us to question, causing us to become jaded and cynical. I fight that myself as I'm sure many of us on this site do too. We can't let this world take away the wonderment and sometimes the belief in something magical happening. For when we do we lose our joy as Stephen so succinctly states and that is extremely sad.
The Disenfranchisement of a Life by IdTakeABulletForYou Points 10
This poem is simply epic. Dramatic maybe, but this poem moved me through an emotional journey of nostalgia through to despair. The ease at which the poem flowed throughout with the unforced rhyming only adds to the impact it delivers. From the familiar world seen from the eyes of a child in the first stanza, to the the hard-hitting final one, this is exemplary poetry.
Handwriting Frustration by Star Points 10
There is so much to relate to in this poem, from any artist's perspective. Whether it is a painting that just won't colour itself in, a story that falls flat or a poem that just won't write itself, the outcome is the same. We seek solace in creating and so when that particular balm to our hardships abandons us, 'frustration' really is the operative word.
The funny thing is, Star tells of her own inability to write with a skilled sort of ease that rather amused me! "words keep snapping" and the clever wordplay of "jungle" and "jumble" show that she is far from encumbered, whether she knows it or not.
This poem got better every time I read it, and so it gets a worthy 10 from me.
Handwriting Frustration by Star Points 4
It's surprising and interesting to me that you commented how you believe this poem to be weak. And I don't see it like that at all. I guess it's all about perspective! I read this and found such depth in it. The first stanza spoke to me about the path we curve, wanting to align each step and decision to best prepare us for the future, so we are stable. Then the second stanza speaks of the roadblocks, the barriers or unexpected bits of life that leave us feeling unprepared or stressed. We are unsure of how to proceed. The "jungle" you speak of could relate to when we overthink and over-complicate what's going on in our life, until we cannot even decipher reality from lies. We are lost in the jungle of our minds and tangled in delusions. The last stanza reflects on if we ever arrive at our right or final destination, if life is just cycling and we are puppets, unable to control our own destiny.
For me, this poem was about much more than just writing. I connected with it on a deeper level and truly enjoyed it!
Off the map by Poet on the Piano Points 4
This one struck a chord. No doubt many of us share that faraway fantasy of just getting away from it all and finding our 'inner peace', but what if we're actually running away, hiding? I felt that the mountain in this piece is metaphorical and that 'untraceable' signifies the end of life when one has travelled too far from themselves in a bid to find serenity and peace. With so many relatable interpretations, I found this fascinating.
Off The Map by Poet on the Piano Points 4
Mary Anne's poem this week highlighted achieving inner peace and possibly getting lost from the world at the same time. We are all on this journey in life, some of it is shared with others, some of it solitary. I get what she says here. To climb that mountain, breathing in this amazing air, feeling the sun on your face and when night falls a million stars to light the darkness. It truly is beautiful but at what cost? Do we lose ourselves in the process? It's easy to do and I would like to think even though I am more solitary by nature I still need people by my side even if it's just to enjoy that climb together.
Amen by Daniel Points 7
I've found that your poetry often always always always delivers an atmosphere that you deeply connects with, whether personifying nature or like in this piece, using "anchor", "sail" and the ocean to signify the wait of this loss and the hope for a reunion on another shore. From this piece, I not only was given a taste of the hurt, but also almost a wondering as to why this person left. There have been times when people leave because they need to focus on their own journey, or need to seek their own happiness first. With the ending lines, there is that slight yearning that you wish to see this person at their best, grounded in who they are, and you will realize perhaps the pain had a purpose. But for now that path is unknown, it's only their absence that you can focus on, not the future yet of either of you. With the line: "It is for the best?", I think it would read better as "is it for the best?" though perhaps you are echoing their sentiment, if they are the ones who said such a definite statement (yet with a hint of a question or uncertainty). What caught me the most was the title and its connection to the piece. From my experience, I perceive "Amen" as being a finality, like a "yes", an affirmation. I think the definition of "so be it" fits the best here, as you may not be able to accept this in your heart yet, but you know it to be true.
Never Changed by Trampled Angel Points 4
The last thing any of us need when trying to overcome a problem in our lives is constant doubt from those who are supposed to support us. We need them there to tell us the things we are doing well; to hold us up when we stumble and to keep pushing us on. When progress is made but only the small but inevitable regressions are noticed, we are bound to become disheartened and disillusioned.
So then what do you do? You write an honest and emotional poem, post it in a place that's full of people who understand and can sometimes relate personally to your plight, read comments like this and take notice of all the things you are clearly doing well and you damn well carry on!