Burning Letters

Been caught in a funk lately. A semi-writer’s block. Not enjoying it, I must say. Even so, that’s not stopped me from putting up another One Shot Wednesday piece this week, but I’d once again caution, not my best. If you see any issues, rip it apart to your best. Maybe critique will jar me from the funk and get the mind working again.

They say it’s good to have confidence no matter what but…well…yeah. Too self-conscious for that nonsense! At any rate, I give to you, “The Smell of Burning Synonyms,” and also a great video from Stephen Fry on language.

Burn me with letters and I

will put those letters in the fire,

the ashes will become the ink

of your iniquity, this quill like

sword, slow-moving through the black

ichor of disapproval, spooning out

doubt’s desire; why is it Synonyms

always burn the hottest?

* My latest contribution to the wonderful One Shot Poetry Wednesdays! Once you’ve had a look, check out some of the other One Shot Poets as well–they’re a skilled bunch of poets, with a strong and supportive community.  Enjoy!


30 thoughts on “Burning Letters

  1. There is so much present in this piece Chris. The title is fantastic…piqued my interest immediately.

    The lay out feels bit off when I read the poem…specifically the point at which you choose to break a line and start a new one…

    “ink of your iniquity” is an awesome line…splitting the phrase between lines feels off…the flow I enter when reading is interrupted at this break…

    actually, the line breaks split up words that really pack a powerful effect when together throughout the piece (in my world at least)…wonder if this was on purpose?

    The last line about synonyms….I really like the concept, the question, the image/emotion stirred, and connection to title…the word “hottest” trips me up…wondering if you could rephrase that question without using the word hottest…but still express the exact thought…perhaps using color of the flame to hint at the temperature? I dont know…just brain storming…

    This poem lit a flame of inspiration for me…simmering still…a piece about letters…if it comes to fruition I will be sure to share…

    I LOVE the typography…its one of my faves!

    Have a wonderful one shot chris!


  2. I love that video by stephen fry! I saw it a few weeks ago via a link from Luke Prather (wordsalad), who btw runs a critique group on fb, if you want some honest and always helpful feedback on your poetry writing.

    I like the thoughts expressed here and the pain comes through your writing nicely.

    In my humble opinion, the “less is more” advice might ramp up the intensity of your poem. For example, what do you think of this:

    I throw your letters
    into fire to burn, yet
    their inquitous ashes
    become ink for quill
    sword that sifts
    through charred ichor
    condemning doubt’s
    desire, spilling white-
    hot synonyms that
    ??? my soul the most

    I put ??? where a synonym for “burn” could go because your word choice depends on how you want the ending tone of the poem to be. For example….brand vs sear vs ignite would all give me a different take on the effect this person’s words have on you. What do you think?

    The only thing that really seemed to not fit well was the “spooning out” verb…I am not sure if it is because swords don’t spoon but rather pierce, cut, stab, etc.

    Happy one shot! 🙂

  3. ha – i feel dizzy after that video…loved it…and i like your poem…i like the idea and the ink of iniquity and the burning synonyms…and yes – why is it that synonyms always burn the hottest…? maybe we can ask sherlock holmes to find out for us..smiles
    happy one shot chris

  4. I cant really critique this or any other poem.
    I judge poems by the feeling they communicate, the atmosphere etc.
    Not the layout or form.
    To me the poem was both good and interesting.

  5. A phoenix of sorts that arises into a sword/quill of iniquity… I like it. There are many avenues you can explore further, in particular, “slow-moving through the black / ichor of disapproval, spooning out / doubt’s desire” those are loaded phrases for sure, w/possibilities for mythological, psychological, and historical references… on a lighter note, what a great video. love videos that incorporate typography. I forget the titles, but there’s one on Helvetica font and The Dash that are very good too. Now I’m wondering what people would have thought if you didn’t put your “funk disclaimer” in the beginning. Poem had great references, but it was like I was expecting it to be bad, which I assure you it wasn’t, G

  6. Some great phrases here Chris

    ‘the ink of your iniquity’ and ‘ichor of disapproval’ – real highlights for me.

    One thing that struck me was that the beginning was fairly passive, I wanted your narrator to have a stronger voice here to draw me into the piece. I think also, this is one of those pieces that doesn’t really suit being centre aligned. Annie’s right about hottest too, that jarred with me a little. Have had a little play with it, see what you think.

    Burn me with letters
    and I will jump in the fire,
    the ashes will become
    the ink of your iniquity,

    this quill like sword,
    moving slowly
    through the black
    ichor of disapproval
    spooning out doubt’s desire;

    why is it Synonyms
    always burn deepest?

  7. That’s a great video–I also saw it a few weeks back in a political context. Everyone who writes should watch it at least once.

    I liked your poem as you wrote it, because I like your voice. It’s distinctive and its yours. Yes, I think the poem isn’t the very best of what you do. Yes, I think you could tighten it up a bit as several have suggested, but I certainly don’t see it as needing to be thrown away and totally redone . It’s a totally different poem then.

    I applaud you for the strength and courage to ask for the crit though.

  8. i don’t claim to be ms. expert but i like it. i’ll be honest, i don’t like “quill” just because it makes me think of old timey guys in lace sleeves. the rest of the poem is wonderfully dark and unsettled and i like it better than either of the rewrites in the comments. dat’s what i think, no charge, mista. lol.

  9. I’m a “feeler” with poetry, so I liked the image of you burning what burns you, and the phrase “doubt’s desire” stuck with me.

    It seems to represent where you are to me 🙂

  10. hey chris…i like it…the thing with poetry is we can put too much pressure on ourselves to get it ‘just right’ and honestly if it comes from within you and expresses emotion or captures a moment…flush those that dont get it…its meant to be fun…

  11. I thought this was really good, Chris. I love the ashes becoming the ink and the question of why synonyms burn the hottest. Great imagery.

    This too shall pass, my friend. That’s all I can say.

  12. OK…I’ll tell you what I like ..

    Burn me with letters – letters in the fire
    ashes become ink of your iniquity
    quill – sword moving slow

    So do with it what you will. These phrases were its heart and said something. Actually they say many things, and work on many layers. You’re not blocked, you’re just in funk.

    Transitions pretty much blow. In life and in art; and yet that’s what defines the product..not the tricks. When you finish your life transition, your art will transition also. At least that is my experience. Kudos for carrying on. It’s easy to fold the notebook figuratively speaking.

    My two cents.
    Gay @beachanny

  13. You are fantastic! We all get in a funk. So many things aid to those moments and sometimes it feels like they all decide to hit at once. Winds will change and your flowers will grow again. ♥

  14. ooohh… deliciously dark!! Learnt a new word today… ichor… liked its usage here.. wowwiees!!
    And the ashes turning to ink bit was really cool, IMO… for some reason, reminded me of the Phoenix in the Harry Potter series..

    Jeeezz… I wish my writer’s block could get such good stuff out of me! It never seems to though…duhhh

  15. I like synonyms on my toast with a little sugar. Man, if this is funk…I have no hope of writing anything unfunky again. Lately I have been so preoccupied…I have to take breathers and hope in the morning something worthwhile begins to flow.

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