July heat

This piece has been in my drafts file/notebook for years and has never really seemed to ‘gel’*. Still, given its provisional title, if I don’t post it today, I might end up waiting another year before I decide to do anything with it.


Heat swells to stuff the corners
of the room, tucking itself up
to pad the picture rail, deadening
the walls. We lie at the edges
of a king-sized bed, white cotton
smooth beneath us. You reach across
and touch me. Sweat breaks
under the weight of your hand.

(*perhaps if it weren’t so hot in Spain in the summer, things would gel better, but when the writer herself feels as if she’s melting, it’s not that easy to concentrate and get poetry to its final setting point.)

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

6 thoughts on “July heat”

  1. Of many of the other poets I have glimpsed on worldpress, your material is the furthest from cliche–thank you for your originality!

    If you are not adverse to some literary criticism, might I throw in my own two cents?

    First off, the poem is great in that it sets up tension between two competing elements. The heat of the scene (of course) and the touch of the second person (“you”). Can you tease out more of this juxtaposition? How do these two elements relate to each other in this room?

    My impulse is to boil down what you have written to what I find to be the core of the poem. As an experiment, what if you tried trimming as many words as possible to get at the piece’s emotional core, but use some repetition for effect and maybe milk your line breaks to emphasize the delicacy of the situation? For example…


    Heat swells, heat stuffs
    the corners of the room,
    tucking up under the picture rail,
    deadening the walls. We lie
    at the edge of the bed. We lie
    on cotton-cool.

    You touch me.

    Sweat breaks
    under the weight
    of your hand.

    I enjoy reading your work and would love for you to take a gander at mine. I have a new poem up, left hand side of my blog at http://theboxcardrop.wordpress.com/


    1. Thanks for your comments. I certainly don’t object to criticism of poems/posts; indeed, I appreciate the time taken.

      Your edit doesn’t work for me, but helps shakes the poem out of a(n unsatisfactory) form it’s been in for too long.

      One thing that doesn’t work is ‘we lie’ on a linebreak: it’s something I’ve done too often already, and doing it twice is too much; the potential pun is all too obvious and here it’s distracting.

      I want the beginning to be sort of dead and stifling – like those dream sequences where your limbs are almost too heavy to move – but your edit makes it clear that I don’t seem to have given any indication of a change in pace.

      Thanks for your suggestions. Maybe I will eventually get this to work the way I want it to!


  2. No problem! I always think that the person who does the critiquing usually gets more out of the process than the person who gets critiqued. But like you said, many times, someone’s edits “shake” a poem. I can’t say I have ever used an edited version someone has provided me, despite participating in many writing workshops, but often I have figured out what was missing by way of someone’s edits… and yeah, the “We lie” line break is too much–I did it too late last night, was totally not going for the pun, but rather trying to echo the rhythm of the first line. No more editing late at night!


    1. Ah! The question of what motivates us to give critique & commentary – I love that discussion!
      I’ve spent hours c&c’ing poems and then never posted my thoughts as I’ve been sure they wouldn’t be appreciated; but I don’t consider that time wasted, as I learned from the process.

      Incidentally, having your poem on the RHS of your blog doesn’t seem to give me a space to comment directly on it.


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