Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- summer storm August 12, 2013

Epic battle:

light and dark.

Musket muzzles flash

Light bayonets the hills

with slashing stabs.

In the concussion of the cannonade

Houses rattle.



So let’s discuss this poem.  Despite the nice circuitous connection of battle/rattle , I think ‘houses rattle’ is the weakest line in the poem, and ending with the weakest line is never a good thing.  You want a nice strong ending.  I started with ‘reverberation’ in the line (no houses at that point) which is perhaps better is some ways, though I felt too obvious a choice.  

Let’s workshop this.  What do you think?  What would you do to the last line to continue the battle metaphor, but convey the quaking ground and rattling windows?


34 Responses to “poem- summer storm”

  1. paulessick Says:

    Reblogged this on My Blog snuppy.

  2. kiwiskan Says:

    what about ‘rumble’….

    • That was my very first thought, but I rejected it because it is too cliche. Following the suggestions from Garry Gottfriedson’s poetry workshop last spring, I’m trying to find a vivid image, and avoid all cliche/expected words.

      (You’re perhaps beginning to see the challenge, here! lol)

    • Possible- Except it doesn’t. Explosion is energy moving outward from source. The earth (ie ground/dirt/etc) receives the energy from the sky. The sky could explode, but that’s really already expressed with the cannonade.

      It is so difficult to find that perfect image that avoids cliche.

  3. phillymanjim Says:

    How about this ending, making the houses the object of the forces of nature;

    In the concussion of the cannonade
    The fierceness of the impact
    Shakes the ground and rattles the houses

    I enjoy the poem and the exercise!


    • Fierceness suggests an interesting personification, but that’s getting dangerously wordy.
      Condense, condense, condense! (Also a stricture from Garry)
      Thanks for playing, Jim! It’s definitely a demanding brief!

      • phillymanjim Says:

        Thanks Shawn…. I’ll check my notifications for other suggested endings’ and possibly offer another suggestion myself!


      • This is a slow way to ‘workshop.’ In real life one could write down all the suggestions, and then the group could discuss which ones are the most effective. That is more likely to provide a comfortable atmosphere than when I break in to consider each suggestion and risk offending kind people who are making suggestions! I hope you will follow and add more later!

  4. davidprosser Says:

    Rattle seems a good word here and since it’s often said that sabres rattle, how about ‘and stones like sabres rattle’?
    xxx Hugs xxx

  5. artmuse10 Says:

    soooo very good idea, playing with cliche without following it! like post modern movies which did not follow genres but playing with it!!

  6. Here’s another interesting option that just occurred to me. If ‘Houses rattle’ is the weaker line, but the battle connection is worth saving, why not just reverse the images?
    Do you think this is stronger? Or should the idea of the shaking houses just get tossed?
    Houses rattle.
    Musket muzzles flash
    Light bayonets the hills
    with slashing stabs.
    In the concussion of the cannonade
    Light and dark in
    Epic battle.

  7. coconutspeak Says:

    I think you might be my long lost sister. This one is so me.

  8. pi314chron Says:

    Change the last line to “China in the cabinet rattles” or “China rattles in the cabinet.” See the large by seeing the small. No one can “see” or visualize an entire house rattling but china rattling is an image we CAN see and hear. The suggested change also picks up on the “c” alliteration of the previous line.


  9. mollygreye Says:

    How about ‘Houses shiver nervously’?

  10. You could something like: “houses sit, shell-shocked”. It would function on both a literal and metaphorical level.

  11. Hmmm..”Foundations Rattle” maybe sounds a bit stronger? Or “Earth’s Foundations Rattle”? Suggesting a broadly encompassing storm.

  12. LOL, or maybe “houses tremble”. But I’m a sucker for anthropomorphizing. It makes me think of the big battle raging on the outside and all of us hunkered down in our homes waiting for it to blow over, lol. I think its the “rattle” word that makes it seem a weak last line. My very humble opinion of course. Thanks for inviting us into this excercise. This is fun!

  13. Oh, or what about the In the concussion of the cannonade, houses form the barricade! We are each behind our own little barricade in the walls of our home, our shelter against the storm.

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