Peer Review by Aarushikrishnan (United States)

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these are the words i will never tell you #firstraycontest

By: jengelman


once my parents let me travel alone in new york city.
at 15, i rode on one of those rental bikes,
travelling north of midtown.
i don't remember the date - 
somewhere near christmas eve.
i sat down at the steps of the public library.
it was closed. 
that morning i wrote a poem
about a homeless man playing chess by himself.

before that, i was in japan.
i did not want to be there,
because no one ever spoke to me.
the bus ride in kyoto is one i still remember. 
the english teacher asked me why i was crying,
i saw when some of the girls blamed it on themselves. 
it was nothing personal, we were young we didn't know how to deal with ourselves
i laugh about that now. 
whispers on her tongue,
she will never forget what she didn't tell me in 
that morning i wrote a poem,
about the grandfather who walked with me onto the highway. 

the following year i went to france.
i met a girl there. 
she taught me how to watch children dance in nice,
when we had 30 minutes, we always took 45. 
once we ran, without paying for our chocolate milk. 
i still left a 10 euro tip. 
i dont think she still remembers.
i felt so reckless then. 
she heard me when no one else did,
she films me busk near the alleyway.
this is where an old man approaches me, asking me 
do you sing janis joplin

the thing is,
i used to be scared of them reading my poetry,
in case they thought it was about them.
now i hope they taste every word, like sour patch kids
like a trip home from woolies.
because i have grown from these people,
even if i blame them for it. 


the rays of sunlight will forever hit me 
like the molten core of marshmellows,
watch the sun fall onto their skin
like the freckles, they spend so much time tanning to count,
do they not know their kindness has been enough? 

thank you. 

- claire staas engelman

Message to Readers

i still am editing a piece i do not love

it is 10:37

Peer Review

This was such a deeply personal piece. You carved a beautiful piece of yourself out for the reader, and I feel like I know you know, your secrets and your thoughts.

This piece is virtually perfect. If I could amend any one thing, though, I would perhaps have a few more (or maybe even all) of the stanzas ending with "that morning I wrote a poem..." I feel like it would really tie it all together wonderfully. It's a beautiful poem your way too, though!

Reviewer Comments

This was gorgeous. Thank you so much for writing it, and thank you again for participating in my contest. I'll be looking out for more of your work.