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8/12/2013 c1 10Complex Variable
I don't know what the proper term for them is (Stanzas? Cantos? Sections?), but, the different titles ("I — Tree", "II — Heat", and "III — Sea", "IIII — Wisp") should probably be in italics or in bold. As they are, I thought the roman one ("I") was an "I" (first person). xD Also, if you're going with roman numerals, you need to use "IV", not "IIII". :3

[groundswell] - - - I learned a new word today! :D

[So shine, sun; blow, wind; fall, rain;
whisper out my secrets;

touch your fingers to my wandering skin;
make this faded canvas beautiful.] - - - Of the first canto, I like these two pairs of lines the best—the first two most of all. "So shine, sun; blow wind; fall, rain;" has a lovely, song-like rhythm to it. I can imagine it as the beginning of the chorus section of a song. :3

The first four lines of "Tree" don't really work for me. "The groundswell carries ideas" feels like a weak start. The rhythm and sound of the words feels hollow and dry. "sewage from a hard winter" is fine, but "beside spring's natural ambrosia," feels forced, much like "The groundswell carries ideas". IMO, "ambrosia" is one of those words (kin with "ichor", "eldritch", and apostrophizing out consonants xD) that are so inherently poetic that they seem out of place in more relaxed, less rigorously structured/rhymed poems such as these. It's like you're trying a bit too hard here.

"Heat" is more compact than "Tree", and I think it is stronger because of it. The line "and she is cold." is the only one that feels "off" to me in "Heat". Also, I'm not entirely sure by what you mean when you say "between dust and tears?"—at least it sounds pretty enough. x3

[with sad, awkward fingernails—] - - - This line does a very good job of describing itself. xD It does not feel resonant with the idea of being "displaced"; it feels kind of silly to me, honestly. I think you could come up with a stronger, possibly more marine creature-image here, something that is more in tune with the lonesomeness and quiet desperation that flows through "Sea".

[And normally I write about she
but she isn't. She just isn't.] - - - This is probably just a matter of personal preference (although, the fact that it IS personal preference rather perturbs me. xo), but, "And normally I write about she / but she isn't." is just so grammatically incorrect, it hurts to look at. Truthfully, I don't think you even need these two lines in this canto; they break the water's surface, so to speak—slicing open the atmosphere and metaphor of this part of the poem.

but the ocean will love me—] - - - "unexclusively" is a weak word to land on; I'd use something else. Also, you might want want to change that second line to something like "at least it will love me". I like the way that would then resonate/repeat with the subsequent line: "it will love me forever".

but when I am with the ocean,
fingers half-buried in the deep,
head just poking above the surf,
it will be too late to believe.] - - - I think you can make that em-dash a period. Also, nice ending—beautifully desolate.

[ long gone—
like a brown leaf in autumn] - - - I would make this em-dash a period, seeing as "like a brown leaf..." starts off a completely new thought. Having the em-dash there, at least for me, creates an expectation of grammatical and topical linkage between the two sides of the dash. Having those expectations so strongly refuted feels quite jarring.

You might also want to consider changing the "it" in the fifth line of "Wisp" to "she".

[In that house lives an old man
whose fingers can no longer hold a pen.] - - - Although I like the sentiment that this last pair of lines imply, I don't think they provide a proper cadence to "Wisp"—or to the end of this mini poetry collection, for that matter. You might want to consider adding two more lines, just to make it feel more conclusive. I get the sense that you might want the ending to be inconclusive or hanging or something similar, but—as I've told many other writers—one doesn't need to write in an "inconclusive" manner to convey inconclusiveness. You know what I mean?

Maybe you could end the poem with a quatrain, or a pair of couplets? It would certainly emphasize the fact that the author can still "hold a pen". ;)


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