Monday, June 23, 2014


Here is a new one inspired by reading a lot of William Stafford. I would be interested in hearing, first, your gut reaction upon reading it, not as a critic, but as a reader of poetry. After that, if you have any critique that might shed light on what is in or not in the poem that either failed or succeeded in creating a meaningful response inside you as you read it please comment.


I'm hoping some other folks will start posting some of their new poems as well.


From atop the bridge of too many spiders
where forty years ago I ran the metal grate
and falling, earned a scar I carry still,
I used to watch the darkened backs of fish
hanging in the water a hundred feet below.

Giant prehistoric beasts that I would never touch
they never went anywhere, just wriggled
slowly against the current, taking something
from the river that was, for me, too small to see 
and, even now, too big to understand.


  1. Tony, this is lovely.

    My overall feeling was with the pleasure of the imagery, and the sort of haunting circle of life in the second stanza. I love the narrator watching this primal, animal feeding from above, like a God.

    I think you succeed at evoking the emotion you're (likely) going for, so my next suggestions are workshoppy take-it-or-leave-it things.

    Consider changing the word "of" in the first two lines. For me, it suggested "made of" spiders, and it took me a second to get the picture of where I was.

    But the image in the last two lines of the first stanza really got me into the poem. It's a cool image, although I did think "Wouldn't the fish be too small to see?" which can be remedied, maybe, by saying that they're giant in the first mention rather than the second mention.

    "Prehistoric beasts" is sort of a pre-fab set of words. Can you call them something other than beasts?

    Really lovely poem!

  2. Hi, Tony:

    I really enjoyed this poem. I think the rhythm is especially good. It has a lovely, lulling cadence through the end.

    My comments are actually almost exactly the same as Mary's! I struggled a bit with the spider image (also thought of "made of spiders"). I also thought "giant" was surprising--I was picturing an average-sized fish.

    I read the poem without the last line as well--something to consider? I like it both ways.

    I personally have watched fish from a bridge in this same way, so the image was very familiar, and your reflection made me think about it in a new way. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  3. Better late than never? My sentiments echo some of Elise's and Mary's. As a reader, I love the mystery and darkness of the poem. You've taken something that children love to do - watch fish from above - and turned it into art. I would also suggest revisiting "of spiders" in the first line. I accept and enjoy the mystery of something "too small to see" but question concluding with "too big to understand." It almost feels too big and empty a conclusion for the rest of the poem, which contains such thoughtfully selected, concrete details. I love that you chose this subject as your topic!