Advice Needed

Hello, everyone!  Thank you for bearing with me and my moody silence while life reverts back to normal.  Strangely enough, ‘normal’ seems to include being burgled, as so many people tell me they too have been burgled over the past couple of years.  Or, if they haven’t, they have lost all of their work when their computers failed spectacularly.  So thank you, everyone, for cheering me up by showing me what a horrible, unfair, cold and stark world it is out there… 

But today for something completely different.  

I am going to submit a poem of mine for a publication, so I read ‘No Reflection’ out loud in a workshop last Saturday to get some feedback on it.  Everyone thought the poem needed a bit more work (I agree!). However, opinions were divided as to whether I should include the last two lines or not.  Some felt the link with Dorian Gray was too obvious and that I had already addressed it in the poem, while others felt that it really helped to frame the poem or explain it.  So, my question is: what do you think?  Leave in or ban forevermore?

Here is the poem once again, as it’s been quite a while since I had it up on my blog (I may be tempted to tinker with it a bit as well):

No Reflection


She had a way with mirrors – 

she tamed them with one look.


No gape emerged, unplanned, confusing,

no fairytale abasement of princess lost and found.

She knew the path, and scaling

was her day job,

to step on meek cadavers, to pursue, victorious.


Each face thought out, with lips

drawn in cupid tones,

dervish underpinned.

The brow? A work of art,

unfurrowed, unhurried.


Regrets are someone else’s,

a sleight of mind, eclipse of hands;

back we are, unwrinkled,

to smooth-held opinions, shifting granular sands.


Meanwhile, the portrait in the attic

Waxed crueller by the year.



36 thoughts on “Advice Needed”

  1. I’ve been offline for far too long that I’ve missed all this!! So sorry to hear you were burgled! That’s awful 😦

    As for the poem, first of all, I love it. It’s very haunting and evocative and I definitely urge you to submit it. Second, I like the end. I think it’s a good framing device and the Dorian Gray reference wasn’t so obvious that you can’t use it.

    Good luck!

    1. Thank you for your very quick response, Layla.
      We got off lightly, in a way, with the burglary, so I really shouldn’t complain. Except that the ancient desktop I am now using is soooo slow, that it takes longer to get going than even me in the morning…

  2. Marina Sofia – Thanks for sharing that poem again. It is haunting and I absolutely love it. And as for the last two lines? Most definitely my vote is to leave them in. The reference isn’t that obvious and the last two lines really do help frame the rest.

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Margot. Increadibly prompt, as always!
      I keep playing around with it, but there are some words I do feel strongly about. For instance, some people did not like ‘cadavers’, but I am leaving that in. The last two lines I was confused about though, had no strong feelings one way or another.

  3. I like this very much but can see both sides of the argument re the final two lines. Maybe the word ‘portrait’ makes it just too obvious? Although replacing it with ‘woman’ would lead too readily to another literary allusion, maybe you can come up with a word which would work.

      1. Ooooh yes. Proof is with the publisher until the fair copy lands in my inbox. Am happily hanging out the social media today while plotting my blogtour!!!! xx

    1. Thanks, Alisa – and please don’t say you’re not an expert on poetry. You always read my poems so patiently. And you always ‘get’ the meaning or the feeling that I mean to convey. What more is there to poetry? We shouldn’t overcomplicate matters!

  4. Thank you, Jo, I think the majority agree on keeping the ending in. As for expertise in poetry – other than those poetry professors, we are all experts on poetry – because we know what moves us. And that’s what poetry is all about. Emily Dickinson put it this way: ‘If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.’

  5. I’m not a poet by any means however

    Besides checking your spelling crueller is spelled with one “L”.

    True the Dorian Grey’s link is way too obvious
    How about writing something like:

    Meanwhile seeing things from the other side of the looking glass
    Told a totally different story

    Robin Leigh Morgan
    “I Kissed a Ghost”
    Debut novel to be released shortly

    1. Thank you, Robin – although I was using British English spelling (sorry, have lived in the UK too long, even if I’m not there now). But yes, perhaps this lady’s talents lie with mirror-taming. Manipulating portraits as well is too much of a good thing!

  6. Here’s what I do when I have an ending like this: I break it off and start another poem. Then I think of the two poems as being connected, a diptych. (I do love the line but also think the poem works better without it.)

  7. Thank you for sharing this, as I missed it the first time around!
    For once I seem to be with the majority and agree the last two lines bring the sentiment around nicely. My opinion is to keep them.

  8. personally i am not a big fan of ‘meanwhile’, but i like the line, i would probably just retool it to take meanwhile out…pretty cool poem though…best wishes on your submission….

    1. Bless, Brian, thank you so much! Yes, ‘meanwhile’ was intended to take it down to earth after all of the rather fancy imagery (partly her own perception). But I can see why you don’t like it…

  9. I’m sorry about the burglary Marina and I hope that the emotional side of it is healing as well as the practical side.

    I’m not a great poetry fan so I don’t read it, so my opinion doesn’t count for much, but I did read this and I loved it and I really liked the last two sentences and think they should be left in. (but remember – lay person)

    1. Thank you, Rebecca, for your kind thoughts. Last night the wind rattled some shutters and I awoke suddenly, armed myself with a broom and went downstairs to investigate… Sigh! It will be a while, I suppose, until I get back to normal. On the upside, it gives me great insight into how victims feel, which is good for an aspiring crime fiction writer, right?
      And thanks for reading this, even if you don’t normally like poetry!

  10. Sorry to hear you have had a really tough time recently. I seem to have come a little late to this post and you have had some fabulous advice. The only points I would make are 1) I don’t think the Dorian Gray reference matters – it may hook people in 2) It is a powerful poem and if you have already given it a lot of deep thought and tinkered with it perhaps it is time to send it off and let it take flight! Good luck x

  11. I like the last two lines. I didn’t think the reference to Dorian Gray was obvious and so those last two lines put a great twist at the end. I also love, love, love the line “dervish underpinned”. Send it off and good luck!

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