A Glimpse

A Glimpse

A Poem by Stray

Several years ago I experienced a moment where I felt extremely connected to someone. In this poem I express anxiety over whether he remembers that moment as well.


A Glimpse

I thought I glimpsed your soul

Loving what I thought I’d seen

It was so many years ago

Now just fragments of a memory

We sat close and warm and true

I thought you were pouring into me

Was it Nothing at all? 

Perhaps this glimpse I’ve held inside

Was only my mind inventive in its lies to make you kind

Desire to ask if you remember sweats out of me

But what if I’m mistaken and you do not?

What to do with this mirage of gentle insight, but only to let rot

In your worst moments, forgetful and mean

I fear you have not, by anyone, ever been seen

© 2022 Stray

Author's Note

I feel like it's too cheesy but don't know how to un-cheesy it lol. I would love tips concerning that! :D

My Review

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• I feel like it's too cheesy

It’s not a matter of being cheesy, it’s that you’re talking TO the reader. From your chair it always works, because the words evoke memories and emotions which are already in your mind, waiting only for the words to make them live again. But look at it from the seat of a reader, who arrives with zero knowledge of who we are, who you’re talking about, and the smallest thing about what happened.

The trick is to involve the reader, not inform them. Instead of saying something like, “I cried at my father’s funeral,” we work toward making the reader weep.

E. L. Doctorow hit perfectly, for both poetry and fiction, when he said, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” And that takes more than the book-report writing skills of our school days.

We forget that the purpose of public education is to provide employers with a pool of potential employees who posses a useful—to them—set of skills. And what kind of writing do most employers require? Reports, essays, and letters. In other words, nonfiction, which informs clearly and concisely, almost always in overview and summation. The methodology that makes it work is fact-based and author-centric. A narrator stands center-stage, alone, and lectures.

But fiction's goal is to provide an emotional experience, so its methodology is emotion-based and character-centric.

Look at a simple illustration, based on, “I cried at my father’s funeral.” It’s a simple statement: concise and meaningful. It’s also a summation devoid of emotion—the nonfiction version. But the rules of fiction say the reader must always be aware of the protagonist’s motivation for saying and doing anything, so there can be empathy between the character and the reader. Both the fiction and poetic version of that statement requires the reader to know who we are, where we are, and what’s going on—so we have knowledge of our avatar’s motivation for speaking/acting, in order to transfer that motivation to ourselves.

To that end, here’s an example. It’s not great writing, just a quick example. But for what it’s worth:
- - - - -
I’m a man…a grown man. And where I come from, men must always be strong. Emotion must be measured and evaluated before allowing them to show. But this day, after watching my father’s agony grow; after watching his flesh melt from his bones; after months of helplessly watching him turn hollow—always hiding the pain raging through him—today, his coffin lowered, to be received by the uncaring earth. And today the skies were filled with misting sorrow. As I walked away I looked to the heavens, shaking my head as I wiped the raindrops from my cheek, as I have on so many other days. But today, what I wiped from my cheeks weren’t raindrops.
- - - - -
Agreed, that’s a lot of words for a simple thought. But the goal wasn’t to make the reader know what happened. It was to make them react, emotionally. So first, I established the man’s sociological norms, which makes his final admission meaningful. I didn’t say, “My dad had cancer.” Instead, I gave the man’s perceptions and reactions rto the process—not by saying, “I was sad,” but by giving reasons to be sad. And if I did it right, even though you knew what was coming, it brought a touch of an empathetic reaction to you.

Sure, in poetry, we condense that process, but non-the-less, we do make use of it it.

• I'm excited to learn more through reading others' work and through the trial and error of writing

Nope. Trial and error only works if you know-of-the-error. We’ll never address the problem we don’t see as being one. Right? And if your goal is to learn something, who do you turn to for examples? This site, as with all online writing sites, is filled with people sincerely offering advice they believe accurate. But a belief, no matter its intensity, has nothing to do with the accuracy of that belief. From your chair, can you tell the difference between sincerely offered but incomplete advice? No. That’s why I take Holly Lisle’s advice to heart:

“Michelangelo did not have a college degree, nor did Leonardo da Vinci. Thomas Edison didn't. Neither did Mark Twain (though he was granted honorary degrees in later life.) All of these people were professionals. None of them were experts. Get your education from professionals, and always avoid 'experts.' ”

So..three paths leading to professionals, first, for poetry:

Head over to Amazon, for a look at the excerpt for Stephen Fry’s, The Ode Less Traveled. It will have you looking at the way words flow in a very different way, and explain why some sentences seem to stumble. He’s focused on structured poetry, but still, what he has to say is very useful.

Then, jump over to the Shmoop site. Once there, select Student. Then, using the button to the left of the midpage search window, Poetry.

They have lots of successful poetry there, analyzed to great depth as to how and why they worked so well. It’s a really great resource, on many subjects, including fiction.

For fiction, though, the library’s fiction-writing section is a great resource. And a better understanding of the approach to fiction can help with poetry. Personally? I’d suggest Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer, which recently came out of copyright protection. It's the best I've found, to date, at imparting and clarifying the "nuts-and-bolts" issues of creating a scene that will sing to the reader. The address of an archive site where you can read or download it free is just below. Copy/paste the address into the URL window of any Internet page and hit Return to get there.


So…this was a lot like trying to take a tiny sip from a firehose, I know, and a lot more than you expected—especially two like this one in a row. But when you’re just starting out is the time to acquire such knowledge, so I thought you might want to know.

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein

Posted 5 Days Ago

I did not find this piece of poetry cheesy at all. It's a good start to learning and building upon your craft. Write what you feel no matter how it may appear at first glance. Read it over and over. Think of it as a puzzle you are piecing together. Read other poets as well to get a sense of their style and mindset toward their craft. Art is malleable and constantly changing in your head. Approach it like a painter to canvas, a dancer to song, a writer to blank paper. The first draft is never the final. And even the final is never the ending. Most of all my work I submitted here I still feel I can work to improve it. As an artist we are never satisfied with our work. We are our worst critic. That is just the way art is. Art is the perfect imperfection that inspires people by its sublime beauty. So keep writing, reading, and learning. Because this art form is a lifetime journey.

Posted 5 Days Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on January 14, 2022
Last Updated on January 14, 2022
Tags: romance, longing, nostalgia, unrequited love, love



Cumming, GA

I don't know a lot about writing but I'm excited to learn more through reading others' work and through the trial and error of writing :) more..