Sirens and the Meadow

Sirens and the Meadow

Poetry

Silence under the surface;
The din shatters
Wasted expectations

I’ll spread myself over the open meadow—but I might snap back
And want more from you always
Let me down
From what I built
You always
Amplify the din
You always
Rise to the occasion
When I want it all
Falling in cascades

The meadow burns; the sirens blare
Does it matter what we fed the fire
When ashes lay in shame

And if you had listened closely
The silence of my pulse
Never asked for you
Never asked for me

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.

Put it Together

Put it Together

Poetry

Shine that light on me
I didn’t know much
In a life that’s just like
Breaking right over me

Watch me run
You’ll be sorry, father
Born but it’s not enough
Maroon from
A cracked champagne glass
Laughing as I put it together

Just watch me, break me
Suck me out of venom’s cries
But there’s just sound and steam
With no exit

Heaven is on earth, father
The reasons for creation
Too gone for me to know
Shine that searchlight on me
And put it all back together

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.

No Transmission

No Transmission

Poetry

The mountains are calling me
But you just see crimson play
And I’m falling in electric dust
There isn’t much else, is there?

Father, lend me a hand
There’s no emergency sign
No matter what I throw over the wall
Or my tally marks in white
There’s no transmission

And no one is awake anymore
No one can mend my eyes
What happened to endless sound
cutting into the rough of our spirit?

There’s nothing to understand
It’s all over the edge
Everything is just fine; it’s OK
Only pipers pay the penance

Ropes and chains and paper planes
Cracks and faint light
And the transmission isn’t going through
Fury and meaning but I don’t know
If the mountains are calling my name
Anymore

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.

Hot Beams, Tear me Apart

Poetry

Can you float above me—but don’t watch me fall
I try to keep this in line, but trying is peril

Watch his finger strike lightning
Watch the pink dust kick from his feet
Watch as every word cascades around us
Like some kind of thirst I knew when I was young

The crowds a sea
Blasts, faint hearts
What will it take, father to tear me apart?

Growing shadows from fading hot beams
Please, showman, don’t go away
Oh, the crowd’s pace is heartbreak
You can’t mend it
Growing silence as your passion-cries are gone
The voices inside me are a din

And sometimes I imagine this paper is touch
And that the light of my lamp tells me your secrets
That what you started never finished
That I can float where nothing’s cast behind me
That there is a land of pink dust
Hot beams, tear me apart

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.

Sweep Ruptures

Sweet Ruptures

Poetry

Living in a lack of want
Every part of you is perfect —
The gods are smiling
But the electricity is gone

All around is sand —
Strangled by the hourglass
We make our way down
As time makes us

Grasping for “material”
Scraps of narrative
Buffers for normalcy
Climaxes pass
But we’re numb to edges

A stale air hovers as I wake
Every part of me so intact —
I am all too connected
Praying for my rupture

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.

Below in the Great Valley

Below in the Great Valley

Poetry

Where is my little life
Below in the great valley
I looked for a home
Never returning anywhere

They all went out to discover
So discover; that they did
Milky way reflected in a dust floor
Must be why its lost some luster

I watched a stranger’s eyes die
And my life with his
There are no more guns in the valley, they say
But there are dried out rivers
There is more death when there’s no killing
And so I should feel so blessed
In this slow fading
Among our stellar remains

I’m looking at my little life
A cactus flower blooming
Never to know a glimmer of dawn
Reaching in the coyote’s midst
Who knew two beauties to meet and part
In a land of no sound

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.

Wetland Abandon

Wetland Abandon

Poetry

The lungs of the bog
The fire in the forest
Low hanging weep-ends
Must is in the air

A life may begin in the ocean’s deep
And be swallowed beneath a confusion
Of fireflies and a night sky
In this wetland abandon

It may claw and bleed
It will praise and plead
But no wildflower will ever please
The salt and the choking air

Heaven or Hades it’s yet to be seen
A life wants to run, but fears
What it will be
A life wants to move, no traction
Will give leave
And it may pray, but the mind conceives
A certain death
The quiet release

Marsh, mud, locked vines
Comforts, sweat, and ache
And is it so much better
In the sunlit awning steps away?

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.

Who am I?: 5 Ways to Approach to Narrative Voice in Poetry

Who am I?: 5 Ways to Approach to Narrative Voice in Poetry

How-to Articles

Rhymes are fun and cool. Don’t think so? Go back to school!

Ok, sir. Is there anything else you’d like to rhyme? All good? Great.

You might think that rhyming is the coolest and indeed, there is nothing more satisfying than unearthing a rhyme that felt like it was just waiting for you throughout the whole stanza. We may think other aspects of poetry rule the game such as imagery, structure, symbolism, but you may be one of the very many poets who overlook the use of narrative voice in their prose. If we go back to what a poem is, we’d realize what a mistake we’re making because a poem is really a drama completely driven by the narrator. A novel needs 200 pages, complete with characters and story structure. A poem needs one. But the effect and the conflict? It still all has to be there in your magical poetic stew, whether it’s three lines or three stanzas.

Deciding who your narrator is and what they want is just as pivotal as in any other form of expressive writing. Whether you decide that your narrator is… well, you, or someone else, here are five sources of inspiration and counsel to help you develop a narrative voice.

1. Read Poems Inspired by Ancient Myths

Ancient myths are not only ripe with hypnotic images that dredge up our psychic angst, they are also amassed with powerful characters and perspectives that constantly bump up against one another. Take Prometheus, who was condemned to have his insides eternally consumed by a hawk. If prose could be uttered from his mouth, what would he say to anyone who could hear him? Consider mythic beasts and their ravenous natures and languages, such as the Chupacabra in Latin American folklore who terrorized the local natives. Pick a powerful character and think, in prose, from their perspective.

The reason why folklore and myths are so effective is that they set up dramatic tension in a simple, imaginative, and incredibly evocative fashion, just like you should be doing in your poetry. Looking through the lense of a story such as these will guide narrative voice along its rightful path.

2. Read a Vocabulary Builder 

The same narrator who says “It’s in the dire pursuit of the best possible fiscal consequences that we’ve decided to convene” is not the same one who says “I came to get that cash back in my pockets, yo!” Understand what word choices you want to make and stay consistent. If you’re hungry for more antiquated words like “bereavement” or “amaranthine,” then make sure to also research the language used in and around that same time period.

3. Think About the Context

Besides what’s being said in the poem, think about where it’s being said. If your narrator is an investigative reporter writing from a small desk in some unknown corner of the world trying to write a coded message in prose, think about what that room is like. Is it humid where they are? Is the room miserable, accompanied by cracks in the walls and stained carpets? Maybe your adjectives are sparse here, your lines just a little shorter than usual. If you are the narrator, still think about the context in which you felt the need to write this down. Were you on a bus on the way back from an ex-girlfriend’s house? Or do you want the poem to describe the intense argument you guys had just minutes before?

Of course, we all know the poem itself. But to bring it into life, we must give it a context.

4. The Impact of the Poem on the Narrator  

How does the poem effect the narrator? As you go through, do the stanzas impart more sorrow, making the tempo slow down a bit in the third stanza? Or does the energy keep building as the poem goes on, acting more like a time bomb? Feel free, if you so wish, to make the poem sound spoken. This might mean a fumbling “Well” or “Oh” every now and again or an unnatural break in rhyme scheme.

No one wants to read a poem that sounds like it was written impersonally for a fortune cookie!

5. Narrator’s Motives

Last but not least, why in the world are you writing this poem? Seriously, why do we care? Unless you feel you know this answer and woven this into your narrative voice, it won’t be a great read. Trust me, I can say my least favorite poems of my own were ones that ignored this question.

A poem will never be just for “release.” A poem is begging for something from its reader, so you better be sure you know why it’s worth reading. Is the poem a warning? Is the poem meant to destroy something? Is it meant to charm or fool us?  What kind of change are you trying to inspire in your readers and why?

These are just some of the ways to get started on narrative voice for your next prose piece. Remember that while your work may contain beautiful imagery and structure, these aesthetic elements will be easily overlooked. Ultimately, it’s the messenger that’s responsible for making this beauty a real, felt, dramatic thing.

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.