Peer Review by Harlow (United States)

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And lies will tarnish the blood of the innocent until my veins are ruby-red once more.

By: r|A|i|N


FREE WRITING

Today I felt like writing something
And up was picked the pen
And my head hurt and fell

And a thousand ills, suited, came unwinding then
Like livid paper-cuts.

    Yesterday I lived at the top of a mountain, and all I could see was the sky, balm blue everywhere I looked; and my arms spread like private crucifixes as I embraced the gentle air.  Fingers swept blood on sweet marble, and I painted myself a hole made of this crusted black.
    "Metaphorically."
    The other day I was struck - "by Jupiter on the horse most high " - while I was walking, the air whistling softly in my corpse-like demeanor.  It was a little birch tree, made of Vulcan-iron and strung with leaves like spread palms.  I rushed to the canvas, and a picture was painted out of the blood in my fingers.
    I would say all of this to my therapist, and write her poems sometimes, and send her love-letters made of finest craft.  "It's like wine."  "My writing is like wine."  She wouldn’t ask why.
    One day I fell in love with something solid.  He had a muscular, tangled face and eyes made of forge.  I followed him home every day, hiding behind things, writing in vicious energy as my heart burst lustily in my ribs.  He was Specimen A; I sent my discoveries to Therapist and told her as many things as I could muster.  "I'm uncertain."  No comment made.  "The Specimen goes to my head.  I use too many adverbs now - I'm in decline."  She was the one person whose response I would not adore.
The infatuation with Specimen A led me crumpled and broken to the bottom of the mountain.  For the first time in eons I lay buried in filth and underworld, smearing hopeless artwork into uncharted voids.  Blood spread in networks.  "My writing is fierce ichor."  She wouldn’t ask me why.
    I was lost in metaphor, Therapist told me constantly, but the phrase itself was metaphor.

They buried me in something exquisitely crafted
And I lie dead in a wonder world, where before
I was lost picking roses, bleeding from the fingers,
Fusing pen and sword -
A dutiful servant.

    My mother died one afternoon.  I was flung into the air, festering - my bones yellowed in my flesh, my skin splaying like lifeless fabric - but I decayed upwards, into the sky, back towards the dreamland where I had once hung.  I yearned and sobbed.  At her funeral, my sorrow was beautiful as they laid her casket like a crib, as hard wood shut away her infant face.  It might have been any afternoon, but it was this one.  On that day, I reached palaces made of ivory and gold and the same sweet-smelling oak as my mother’s casket.
    My sister cried with ugly ferocity.  I insisted she be quiet.  I told her of the world - of the shift from sunshine to rainfall, from mountain to underworld.  Her milky gaze was furious at me while she wailed and wailed.
    I had sobbed with beauty and tragedy.  My sister had sobbed with the revulsion of being.  When I told this to Therapist, she boarded her hands over her eyes and looked angry.  "Exactly" was all she said.  She did not understand the world, I thought.  She was lost in the certitude of her profession.
    I thought about Mother in the days that followed.  Her sudden nonexistence hurt me greatly.  She was lost, and there was great discussion about where she had gone.  Perhaps only I knew.  Her gentle, broken body was a mere apparition, I was certain - an illusion, a placeholder for her presence.  She was somewhere else entirely - in the heart of the world, buried deeply and beautifully in the place where all things go.  I told this to Therapist while inwardly storming at her inability to understand it.  I wanted her to reach my palace, to stand on those riches and view the beauty that lay beyond.  She never would.  For this, I grieved.

If the world were a page, I would
Leave ink splattered in messy footprints -
Ink made of unseeing hands, groping postures.
Canvas, give me eyes.


    My mother had lain in the heart of the earth not three months when came a fatal occurrence.  Specimen B stood by as I walked through, and I fell helplessly into his arms.  His eyes were deep and intelligent.  My soul loved his, and he loved mine, we enveloped one another's hearts like swelling water droplets.  The rain fell.
I told him to find me again.  I should have known better.  Later, my notebook would be carved and cut with thousands of I should have known betters in angry, red-hot burns.
    I fell from a high height, swerved through the earth and the sky and everything that had served as workable, lovable canvas.  I fell where the world ended and stayed there, drained of the paint that had once run slickly through my veins.
    "I will stay here forever."  But Therapist picked me up with rough hands and shoved me back into cruel, cold air.  I cried artfully.  "I have been deprived - my paint - "  The irony was lovely.
    Therapist was a mystery to me, a subtle and complex shadow lying just outside of my vision, and I had long craned my neck and strained my eyes to see just what shape that shadow assumed.  Her anger could be hard and scalding, but she was gentle too, a peaceable river where I often lay to heal.  Sometimes I could sense something else in her lingering near my eyesight.  It was something intermittent, and it would flash or disappear depending on what I said.  Sometimes I thought it was affection.  Sometimes I thought it was sadness.

The world differs and expands and bulges
With its own gain, but maybe I am left behind.

Workers sling sacks of material over
Their shoulders, but I am trapped under
The bagged weight of ideas.


    One day somebody asked me what my name was, with a hand outstretched, and every voice and tone indicated that it was the simplest question in the world.  I smiled at the stranger, and a certain illness seized me like an army.
    So many things I wanted to tell her!  My name is nonexistent - My name is every letter and back - My name is of the air and sky - My name is a simple gift - My name is complicated - My name is a fierce specimen - My name - My name - My...
    The army swarmed in me.  Soldiers gripped my head with icy fingers, wrenched it back, drew blood in my priceless skin.
    I opened my mouth, and war frothed out.  I choked and gasped and fell and I sobbed, as never before, as pain would sob, as my sister would, as the army wrenched back my skin and out spilled so much blood.
    And the moment will change, and I will be blurting out things as I never have before, a face cool and concerned hovering near mine.
    "I don't have it anymore... I can't anymore..."
    Therapist will answer me, ask me why, and I will see her shadow at last, and it will be filled with care and affection and so much sadness.  She will ask me, "What is your name?"
    And in all of tomorrow I will never answer her.


Message to Readers

i spent way too much time with this character ok


Peer Review

The intrigue, the depth, the figurative language. All masterfully done, at some points I was confused (hence my comments), but overall, the piece is relatable, beautiful, and something I would love to see continued.


Please, please, please, please, please, PLEASE do not get any deeper. I struggle to grasp the words that flow from your ink, for it's spilled in spirals.


Reviewer Comments

Your protagonist's varying literal view provides strange bits of comedy throughout this piece that I was for which I was not prepared. Their use of metaphor adds a strange depth to the story that I didn't think I'd need.

I'm glad we got paired for reviewers' club this month, but your work seems a little to deep for my skills. I spent a lot of time researching possible allusions and metaphors and hope that I adequately reviewed your work.

With Love,
Harlow