What is Ours (revision of “Midwinter”)

Tonight there are stars – and millions of them.
Even though you’re in New York City where
stars are forgotten and the streets blaze upwards
from yellow curbs and storefront windows.

Are we responsible for the words
we throw at random into the universe?
Carefully censored or those that sputter
to life below the layer of consciousness,
not a single word has ever
altered Rigel’s path across the sky.

I’m afraid our words distract us from living,
from noticing how a breath can fan into delicate
lace on a frozen wind and how that same breath
will dissipate, slowly fade into nothingness
against a backdrop of deep night and shining stars.

4 Responses to “What is Ours (revision of “Midwinter”)”


  1. 1 Rachael Mar 28th, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    I love it! It is precise, but it still makes you think about what the poem is trying to convey.
    I have two suggestions:
    1)You have “stars” in the poem three times; I would like to see a new word for star in the first stanza, line three.
    2)This may be me, but the wording in the first stanza “Even though you’re in NYC…” left me wondering even though you’re in NYC – what….does that make sense. I was thinking, “But when you’re in NYC” or something like that.
    If that doesn’t make sense let me know and I’ll tell you in class

  2. 2 Erica Apr 4th, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    I really like this revision- you tightened it up quite a bit. I got a bit hung up on the first stanza though, with the repition of “stars,” and the line “Even though…” I don’t have a suggestion for that right now, but I think you should play around with the first 2 lines (though I love lines 3 & 4.)
    -Erica

  3. 3 tyler Apr 12th, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    hello, laura. i’ll see you in a few minutes but this is what i think anyway:

    the weakest part of this version (for me) is from “Carefully censored” to the end of that stanza. the language isn’t as crisp as the rest of it. the sentence starts abruptly. i do like the soundwork in the section, though- preserve it if you can. perhaps it should be, “no single word has ever” instead of “not a single word has ever”? the way it is now, it’s kind of strange.

    i guess i think that “star” is the best word that means “star.” perhaps revise the last line too, “nothingness against a backdrop of deep night and shining stars” doesn’t thrill me, at least.

    i may post on this poem again-
    tyler

  4. 4 L.Ryerse Apr 15th, 2007 at 1:44 am

    Tyler,

    I’d already revised again before I read your message. Mostly work with the line breaks, though:

    What is Ours

    Tonight there are stars —
    and millions of them.
    I know it. Even though
    I’m in New York City
    where the streets blaze
    upwards from yellow curbs
    and storefront windows
    to vault into an inky void.

    I’m afraid our words
    distract us from living.
    Carefully censored or those
    that sputter to life below
    the layer of consciousness,
    not a single word
    has ever altered Rigel’s
    path across the sky.

    They distract us from
    noticing how a breath
    can fan into delicate lace
    on a frozen wind and how
    that same breath will
    dissipate, slowly fade
    into nothingness against
    the deep and shining stars.

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