The Terrible Poetry Breakdown series takes a look at heartfelt poems that somehow have gone off the rails. The only two criteria are a) the poems cannot be willfully bad, and 2) the poet must be completely on board with criticism. My analysis focuses only on the effects the poems have on me, the casual but informed reader.
Awake before dawn
A silent run to the neighbor’s woods
Two ten-year-olds race down the valley into the sleepy town
And return as the sun rises, tennis shoes soaked with dew.
At home, an older sister plays Soft Cell,
The morning ritual that gets her out of bed.
A glass of ice water in the brightening kitchen:
A summer day begins.
Here we go! Last time I called for a celebration of life. And now I get one! There’s no death here (except implied). What do we have? Ten-year-old joggers. Sunshine. Morning.
And Soft Cell??? I remember Soft Cell!!!
In short, the start of a summer day. Except it’s the poet’s summer day. Not mine! Don’t we need something a little more universal than this? I like my nostalgia to be a little more big-hearted, less insider-y – a door for me to enter, not a window for me to look through.
But hey, maybe I’m being too picky. Take away Death, and this is what poets come up with. I appreciate the effort, Poet!
And sure, lines like “A glass of ice water in the brightening kitchen” need some work. Revision is probably too good for a line like that: maybe it’s a good opportunity to make sure your computer’s delete key is functioning.
But good luck with the rest!
And as always, my thanks for being a good sport and submitting etc.
Previously in the Terrible Poem Breakdown Series:
- Terrible Poem Breakdown: “The Gentle German”
- Terrible Poem Breakdown: “There in the Valley of Elah”
- Terrible Poem Breakdown: “Ode to a 20-Year-Old ‘Poet'”
- Terrible Poem Breakdown: “The Dancer”
- Terrible Poem Breakdown: “Advice”
- Terrible Poem Breakdown: “May Day”
- Terrible Poem Breakdown: “Disgrace”