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Tyrant of Words
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Poetry Contest

Classic Corner: Alice Fulton Tribute

Co-Hosts - Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze

Welcome back to the Classic Corner Competitions, Part XXXIII, in an ongoing series introducing serious writers of DUP to the most famous classical and modern poets of our time.

Alice Fulton was born and raised in Troy, New York. She received a BA from Empire State College in 1978 and an MFA from Cornell University in 1982.

Her books of poetry include Barely Composed (W. W. Norton, 2015); Felt (W. W. Norton, 2002), which was awarded the 2002 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; Palladium (University of Illinois Press, 1986), which received the 1985 National Poetry Series and the 1987 Society of Midland Authors Award; and Dance Script with Electric Ballerina (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), which received the 1982 Associated Writing Programs Award. She is also the author of a collection of short stories, The Nightingales of Troy (W. W. Norton, 2008), and a collection of prose, Feeling as a Foreign Language: The Good Strangeness of Poetry (Graywolf Press, 1999). Her work has been included in five editions of The Best American Poetry series and in the The Best of the Best American Poetry, 1988-1997.

Fulton’s work has been adapted several times for musical and theatrical productions. Anthony Cornicello’s ...turns and turns into the night, a setting of four poems from Sensual Math, premiered at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The 2003 World Premiere of Enid Sutherland’s complete setting of “Give: A Sequence Reimagining Daphne & Apollo” took place at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan. William Bolcom’s setting of “How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around” was first performed  by Marilyn Horne at Carnegie Hall’s Centennial Celebration. Turbulence: A Romance, a song cycle with music by William Bolcom and words by Alice Fulton, debuted at the Walker Art Center.

Alice Fulton has been the George Elliston Poet at University of Cincinnati, the Roberta C. Holloway Lecturer in the Practice of Poetry at University of California, Berkeley, The Michael M. Rea Visiting Writer at University of Virginia, and a Visiting Professor at University of California, Los Angeles, Ohio State University, and the University of North Carolina. She is currently the Ann S. Bowers Professor of English at Cornell University.

For more information, please visit her website at http://alicefulton.com/


—Write a new ( non-previously posted ) poem honoring Fulton inspired by any one of her poems.

—Do NOT copy paste your poem to the competition, it must be linked to your page with the below information.

—Do your best to make us feel as though we are reading poems by Fulton. The more we feel you "capturing her essence" in "your own words" , the higher you will score. This will involve choice of wording, delivery, subject material, formatting, target audience, ambiguity - a wide range of factors.    

The Rules

1. Two entries per DUP persona.    

2. No extreme erotica; this is open to all ages and can't be viewed with an ECW ( Extreme Content Warning ).    

3. No exact word limit; however, attempt to keep it no more than 250 - 300 ( UNLESS the inspirational poem is longer ).

4. Any form is acceptable ( but studying the poet is advised ). This includes visual and spoken word pieces.    

5. You must select #AliceFulton in your themes. The theme page will automatically generate as soon as eight entrants hashtag the theme. Make sure you hashtag her in your themes or you will be disqualified.

6. In your Author's note, provide the poem title ( even if the title of your poem is the same as Fulton's ) as well as a link to the poem ( not website ) by Fulton that inspired yours. Without this, we have no way of determining if you were truly inspired by Fulton, or simply swapped fresh words into her existing poetry and form, which could be considered plagiarism.

7. You may edit your entry up until the moment the competition closes and is locked for judging.

Comp will be judged by Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze. As in the past and in the event there is a tie, we will call in third ( and possibly fourth, as in last month's case ) judge.

You have one month; best of luck to all entrants!

Tyrant of Words
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[ Classic Corner ] These Fractacular Lives of Yours and Mine

plus verse
plus more verse  
grows ever subversive  
as printing of once steady hand  
gives way to chaotic cursive's stead   
What fractacular poetry!
And the pollened text accrues
as it continues flowering long
after each prized [in]carnation    
you choose to be[e] is stemmed
---subtracted from this wondrous
Written by JohnnyBlaze
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Tyrant of Words
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( After Alice Fulton )      
I once had reason to fear        
humans in general—          
people are people, individual        
as their unpredictable demeanor          
regardless of upbringing          
I've experienced them        
in farmhouse pigsties        
to Buckingham Palace—        
often unable to tell a difference        
aside from clothes or conduct.            
I once observed various groups        
in a museum:          
The elite, social ladies        
with diamonds and emeralds          
capturing the light from paintings;          
shining status symbols, sailing        
in an ocean of titanium white teeth—        
ornately framed islands of color          
drowning in dirty martinis        
and stoles of long-dead mink.          
The middle-class, parents        
their children in tow, controlled        
mannerisms dictated by rules—        
deep furrows across their brow:          
college tuition, savings, glasses, braces—        
societal expectations outweighing relaxation.          
The elderly, taking their time        
sipping beauty as though holy water        
offered during a drought          
from a golden goblet—        
threadbare raiment veiling skin        
cracked by elements; their faces          
angelic in appreciation: Michelangelo        
Matisse, Chagall, Van Gogh.       
The lonely, solo navigators          
circling some dreamy landscape          
of harvested wheat, or starry night          
over a provincial café          
Forlorn eyes having dissolved        
into brush strokes of cobalt blue        
yellow ochre, resurrected cadmium hues—        
memories of unrequited love        
relived over and over in a heart        
unwilling to let go.           
Then, her—        
there, red coat over sensible shoes;          
a second-hand bag, draped          
across an upright shoulder, simple        
updo complimenting  high cheekbones          
lightly touched with rouge. Her eyes          
shimmering greater than emeralds          
off-set by diamonds, having survived          
loneliness alone, she now eschews        
the in-crowd with a polite nod, drifting          
chin up—a compassionate zephyr          
gliding about the gallery as fresh air          
for those who couldn't breathe.          
I innately knew, at age eight        
she was exactly who I wanted to emulate—        
and I, shy and insecure, smiled regardless        
when she playfully navigated about me          
and winked.          
Written by Ahavati
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Fire of Insight
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Industrious Annalise

Let them talk about making this nation
great again as if it was some truck tire  
worn down to its radial under armor    
ready for retread in the tire department  
next building over from where we worked.  
The harness of solidarity we erected    
remains buckled. We were the welding
that held everything together by sweat,
blood, and tears. We were America    
And still are, even after labor pains
of being strong-armed during contractual  
obligations around every corner  
---becoming well heeled regarding miles  
of concrete and iron catwalks hiked,    
but hardly as far as insurance benefits  
and pursed billfolds where it counted,    
And there were no leaves of absence  
when it came to leaves of abstinence  
as one unplanned on getting pregnant;  
you could always count on women    
getting shafted upon shafted.  
Let me tell you how it was --- enough  
anguish was channeled into the rubber  
plant's production line floor that glass  
ceilings cracked with every impact  
of our feet being put down hard.  
Not without backbiting resistance,  
mind you. Butch. Dyke. Lesbo. Name it.  
They labeled us -- designated unfit    
to work along side for the same pay  
and definitely for dating by such great  
American specimens of men    
who demonstrated all the Olympian  
capacity of beer kegs in form,  
function, and usefulness.  
We endured the unlubricated jeers  
nonstop, sometimes from behind,  
but mostly right up in our faces  
---I guess being spare-ribbed equals,  
we were meant to take the thrusts  
of their fear driven anger like men,  
if not the queers they secretly feared    
would eventually topple Heterotopia.  
Yet they sure loved their girl-on-girl porn  
if the girls on the girls in the girlie mags  
were airbrushed into flawless perfection,  
looking glorious in frilly lingeries ...  
And I guess I don't blame them;  
overalls do little to accentuate figures  
without God's plumping ass'istance    
and grease giving complexions fits.  
On my days off, I was about as sexy  
as Gloria Steinem in a gunny sack dress  
---more hip deep into Gloria Jeans---  
my lunch pail thermos was emptied    
with a cigerette or two by morning's  
fifteen minute break.    
Not vain about my appearance,  
letting low self esteem and complex    
be cause to quit punching the clock,  
instead I chose to punch a few assholes  
during my time at Firestone.  
As for Annalise ...  
Damn. How badly I wanted to hit that    
broad when she was hired on in 1975.    
Boy, she really rubbed me the wrong way.  
Bossy --- always micro-managing. Anal
was an understatement.  
So much so, the gals called her Anal-lise    
her first month on the floor. Ha! I can laugh  
about it now, but refused to back then  
---that would have made me no better  
than the men with their insults.  
Anna and I finally entered the union  
officially having swapped rings at City Hall  
seven years ago. I guess you could say,  
shortly after we were acquainted,    
she grew on me in girl-on-girl fashion;    
never was I into women until having laid  
eyes on her for the first time.    
She died last March from complications  
due to the Covid-19. I always told her  
to give up smoking --- which we both did,  
but a few years too late, I guess;    
her lungs were a mess by then  
and these last couple of years on oxygen  
were quite a drag on her spirit.  
Underneath the rigid aluminum clipboard,  
Anna was always my fresh of breath air  
in that insufferable nine-to-five armpit.    
And now she's gone, just like the America    
that was so supposedly so fucking great    
until black men and women started  
running for President.  
Written by MaryWalker
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Fire of Insight
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lemon yellow grass

lemon yellow grass
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Fire of Insight
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Quasimodo dilemma

His hands clasped over his ears    
as they called the rich and poor to prayer,
crying for the pain to stop
from the ore when it was cast    
in the foundry as molten metal splashed.  
Did god condone each single burn  
weary hands as they hammered it to pitch,  
 It will strike just like a torch  
the flame of music at its source,    
reverberating like dirt upon the coffin's lid.  
A liturgy,  a clean unsoiled handkerchief  
torn with the frequency of pinking shears.  
The bell ringer counts the score  
in black shroud or bridal white,  
the murmur of how beautiful she looks:    
confetti or a wilting wreath;  
a crown of thorns do we pay heed?    
The campanologist locked in the peel  
stand in the unbroken ring  
spell out as each pull the devil fights.  
Did the capper ever lie, fake the hammers strike? 
This is life: this is wrong, this is right; its song  
town crier, shout Oyez! Oyez!  
 madness be but a chime away  
in towers of suspended isolation.  
 Grip to weather all the changes  
mingled, are tangled ropes of concern's discord;  
harbinger of frailty, they flood and spill  
in foreign tongue the sentinel ?  
Moments  unproofed,  its message oft misunderstood.  
The doorbell chimes, a solemn constable  
stands with saddened eyes;  
a crook just to herd us sheep,    
supplication, joy, or mourning voice from the belfry.  
Loud chimes or tinkles of humanity  
Nortra-Dame's hunchback is the baggage that we carry;  
tinnitus no mind can parry    
Written by slipalong
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Tyrant of Words
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Thank you, nomoth and slip.

To the rest: I KNOW she's tough. Fulton is in a unique class of her own. As I've tried to explain in messages from those who don't feel they have what it takes to brave her; you're wrong. You DO have what it takes. Push yourself, step out of that box of fear, and try. The honor is in the attempt.

Dangerous Mind
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Suffocation of Marriage

So desperate to please you,  
quantity over quality, fearing loss,  
sensual in thought but,  
more mechanical in reality  
the love is still there  
where passion is not.
Your spirit’s essence  
creates imagined warmth.
For as much as I long for your company,  
I’m relieved when we part.
The mental jenga which  
wreaks havoc in mind and body,  
leaves anguished sentence fragments  
when we attempt to reconcile.
What was once unified,  
was singularly envisaged
I felt free together,  
you did not  
you storaged yourself.
What would you do differently if apart  
we went our separate paths?
Your most cherished compliment  
was I saved you  
from being alone.
Self implosion would have  
yielded the same result  
alas hindsight. Where to go from here?
Successes and failures are manageable,  
all is forgiven, all is not tolerated.
Like the Nile River we’ll continue upstream.
Against all odds and all arguments,  
until death do us ~ in.

Written by Honoria
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Tyrant of Words
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* Clarification on the Guidelines & Rules *

Yes; you can edit your entry up to the minute the comp closes, and is locked for judging. I'll revise the initial post to reflect such.

Dangerous Mind
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A Dark War

I know a man with camouflaged    
mind, gun-stock resting somewhere  
between lies of patriarchal privilege      
and the body of a dead      
child, marred by indiscretions of    
lesser men. Miniature legs      
and arms spilled over assumed      
lines drawn in thick heat of desert      
swarm, heaved with heavy heart to the    
doorstep of a farmer, a father, a man    
with no recourse; nothing but unfathomable    
grief and a rake to shake in the face   
of God. Democracy, a    
misapplied ideation rooted in soil      
of offshore inhabitants, willing to eat    
at tables overflowing with      
stars and stripes, while the rest of    
humanity, mouth agape, wrestles    
against blind cries of hate and    
freedom. A broken soldier returned    
from caves and caverns, unable or    
unwilling to bask in welcome-home    
glory. He saw with eyes to see    
the indecency of what men do.
Written by Eerie
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Tyrant of Words
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Sting of Consciousness

I have a hard time understanding anti-maskers
when they claim their rights
are being fringed upon,
it’s somewhere along the lines
of anti-vaxxers, it just sounds wrong.

I know everyone is entitled to their own views,
but it seems that lately
we’re an individualistic society,
people will believe the lies
and ignore the truth
simply because it’s easier.

Then again, selfishness, like greed, is a disease,
it slowly tears away
at the fabric of humanity,
it’s manifested in anger
with hatred and ignorance,
devouring the world like a plague.

This pestilence takes lives without judgement,
it's an indiscriminate selection
and unnatural evolution,
hopefully in time,
they too will see the light,
before it gives out in the end.
Written by wallyroo92
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Dangerous Mind
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Rearview Mirror With Baby Shoes

As if unwilling to sit still
they hung there, swaying;
soles still clean, undented, unperforated.
Peering over the tall, red dashboard
I was a mole in a moving hideaway
carried forward unwittingly,
the past still front and center.
How could he have ever fit
Into those shoes, I thought,
they were doll-sized.  
Suddenly he became a life-sized doll  
on the horizon as if waiting for us to arrive,
wind-blasted and beyond compliance.
'What took you so long?', his tiny lips muttered,
'I am outgrowing myself as you roll away
from me'. I steered the quandry

Into his plushy babble, his eyes wide and blue.
The only thing that seemed to move  
were the shoes, yet not toward or away
but in oscillation.
The odometer read the many hundreds
of miles traveled as we sat and watched them
bobbing along. And where  
Had the years gone, they bobbed
gently away in the rearview mirror
of the hulking transport that was
the family car.
The tiny cries became echoes
fading into the clicks of a V8 engine
as the shoes kept running
with the odometer into a marathon
of secrets concealed under the hood
with a slowly corroding radiator
and a cranky carburetor.
We sat cradled in the soft, crinkled
leather seats in suspension,  
coasting above the rocky road.
The wrinkled seats were more
worn than the baby shoes
would ever become.
Written by PoetsRevenge
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Tyrant of Words
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DUPeeps, this is your less-than-48 hour reminder to PLEASE double check your entries to ensure there are no errors in spelling,  grammar, and puncuation, and that all the competition guidelines are being adhered to.

Who wants to be knocked out of Trophee contention for something simple as a typo? Or be disqualified for failing to add a poem title and link to said poem in your entry's Notes? That's right - YOU don't want to be.  

Tyrant of Words
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As always, these competitions can be extreme to judge ( actually, that's an understatement ). That is why it's so important to check and double-check, because sometimes it all comes down to a simple typo between two poems. That being said, we appreciate everyone who braved Fulton this month!

Congratulations to the following winners, and to all who entered. That alone is to be commended.

nomoth: lemon yellow grass - First Place

An excellent emulation in regards to dying, which Fulton's inspirational poem, After the Angelectomy, was inferring via fatique and the loss of a will to live ( or so it seemed ).  Visually it's impeccable in presentation.

Technically it was a tad inconsistent in that the title was lower case, as well as the first word, while the remainder sentences were capped. Also, beginning with a lowercase 'but' indicates there's clearly a pre-story that we are not aware of, which adds some abiguity to the content. As this is in bookform visually, the reader immediately ponders what the previous poem was if they had not already read it.

Lastly, there is a tad of inconsistency in your spacing. In L1 between the end stop and That's is not consistent with the spacing in L7 between the end stop and 'I smoke'. It's such a little thing, yet jumped out at me.

These are very minor inconsistencies compared to the content, really, and could also be reflective of your personal style.

Congratulations on your well-deserved win, nomoth. We hope to see you back again this month.

slipalong: Quasimodo dilemma

We were so very impressed with this entry. Your imagery was impeccable and you definitely captured the essence of Fulton's inspirational poem, My Task Now Is To Solve The Bells. Whereas the peel was from her point of view, yours was from Quasimoto's. I thought it was a brilliant emmulation.  Technically there were a few things we noted: firstly, not sure why you have nortra-dame hyphenated ( maybe we are missing somethng so feel free to extrapolate ), but the correct spelling is Notre Dame ( without a hyphen ). That stuck out pretty big, as the location is central to your theme. There were a few extraneous words that could've been removed; for example, take the following line:

[ Notre Dame's ] hunchback is the baggage that we carry

Combined with the misspelling, this line really stuck out. When writing poetry, read each line aloud. Read it again and ask yourself if there are any words you really don't need in order to carry your meaning across.

Lastly, we believe that without stanzas and spaces for pause, Fulton's inspiration poem was meant to mimic a nonstop bell ringing.  You did well to emulate that, accentuating the maddening affect such ringing has on a reader who just wishes the writer would stop for one moment so they could catch their breath. Spaces are an integral part of poetry, and much like punctuation, both guides the reader's pace while allowing them pauses between thoughts. In this instance, however, you were wise to emulate Fulton's style.

Overall you did very well, and this was one of your best classic offerings. The essence was spot on. The deeper you go into poetry, the more you will learn, and you've proven that by your latest posts! You were just edged out of placement by PR's flawless technicalities.

Well done on your Honorable Mention,, slip! We hope to see you back this month. Your progress has been remarkable, and if there had been four trophies, you would've placed. You earned an honorable mention instead.

* continued in next post *

Tyrant of Words
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Honoria: Suffocation of Marriage

First, Fulton's inspirational poem, Claustrophilia, is one of my favorites of hers. I actually did an essay once, so you can imagine my delight when I saw you had chosen it! Fulton's premise in her poem was to get as close as possible ( metaphor for proximity ) while avoiding the pain of contact, thus, used "moxibustion", the ancient Chinese medical treatment which resembles accupuncture to a point ( mugwort is burned very close to the skin without burning it as a means of relieving pain ). She also relied on diction to create both emotional shade and to shift the tone of a poem; think analgesia! It has a clinical feel to it, doesn't it, like a chilling distance in a hospital or treatement center way ( which rarely evokes positivity ); however, is necessary at times for health and well-being.

With one single word ( Fulton knew the power of ) an entire poem shifts, and doesn't have to say another word.

That being said, yours demonstrates the desired distance Fulton's expresses, and rather than use medical terms, you relate yours to the game of Jenga. When one thinks of that game they thing of wood entwined in such a way that the structure it builds is dependent upon the next piece of woodby the next player, which makes its foundation precariously unstable at best.

Technically, there are a few issues which need to be addressed. The punctuation and capitalization is terribly erratic.

- [  ] where commas and endstops should be
- [ ] around commas that shouldn't be
- [ Cap/lowercase correction]

So desperate to please you,  
quantity over quality, fearing loss[,]

sensual in thought[ ] but[,]  
more mechanical in reality[ ]  

[T]he love is still there  
where passion is not.

Your spirit’s essence  
creates imagined warmth.

For as much as I long for your company,  
I’m relieved when we part.

The mental jenga[ ] which  
wreaks havoc in mind and body,  

leaves anguished sentence fragments  
when we attempt to reconcile.

What was once unified[,]  
was singularly envisaged[ ]

I felt free together,  
you did not[ ]  

[Y]ou storaged yourself.
What would you do differently if apart  
we went our separate paths?
Your most cherished compliment  

was[ ] [i][You saved me ]
from being alone.

Self implosion would have  
yielded the same result[ ]  

[A]las[ ] hindsight[ ; ] [w]here to go from here?
Successes and failures are manageable,  

all is forgiven, all is not tolerated[;]
[l]ike the Nile River[ ] we’ll continue upstream[.]

[a]gainst all odds and all arguments,  
until death do us ~ in.[/i]

Also, we would recommend a tercet here:

Your most cherished compliment  
was[ ] [ You saved me ]
from being alone.

That being said, and in regards to the below section, we weren't quite sure what you were trying to say here. We think you were saying that the greatest compliment he ever paid you was, 'You saved me/from being alone.' Or, were you saying he was telling you that he saved you from being alone?  If the latter, it's correct as written, but should emphasize the quote ( either in italics or quotation marks ) and comma indicated below.  

Your most cherished compliment  
was[ ] I saved you
from being alone.

We realize this may be a lot to take in; however, we earnestly want to help you improve through these classic entries. As far as essence, you truly captured the essence through diction, particularly the single word, jenga, creating a metaphor for a shakey relationship.

If you have any questions or need clarification, please don't hestiate to contact us.

Thank you for participating in the classics, Honoria! With a bit of focus on the forementioned areas, you will definitely place soon enough! We hope to see you back with us this month.

Eerie: A Dark War - Second Place

Just as Vuong's poetry evokes deep emotion within me ( to the point I have to step back and reread multiple times to get a grip ), so did your inspirational poem, Trouble in Mind. I wondered if someone was going to select it, as the Vuong entries surrounding war poetry were fabulous.

It knotted my stomach the first time I read it, particularly in regards to the Vietnam War, as referenced by 'Agent Orange' in Fulton's. As you know, my father served two tours and was sent back to assist with the extraction during the fall of Saigon. I lived that war through him and his stories almost every day of my life.

As I commented on your profile page, you totally captured the essence of the war's affect on not just indigenous habitants of a country, but the very soul of the country itself. The emotional impact equally as powerful as Fulton's.

One thing I want to note in Fultons is her use of abrupt endstops to accentuate the point both beginning and ending her poem:

A murdered body's shallow grave. [ stop. breathe. think. ]
A ditch that shelters sniper's fire. [ stop. breathe. think. ]
[ . . . ]
A jungle of nothing. [ stop. breathe. think. ] A forgetting. [ stop. breathe. grasp the reality. . .we as a nation have forgotten. . .]

Technically, as last month, your enjambments stood out. In all honesty, we were like, " How could she nail Yeats' and miss the mark on this! WTH? " LOL!  I was so fucking proud of your Yeats' entry!

Again, pay close attention to Fulton's enjambments on you inspirational poem. I mean really study them, and you will discover that practically all can stand on their own, thus she uses the enjambments to take the line to a new level:

As soldiers dismember weapons to check ( solid )
on their perfection ( wait, what?! Oh! )

You almost get the impression that she's about to follow up with a contrast, i.d. -

As soldiers dismember weapons to check
the jungle rots their toes and feet

But, no, that's not all. She follows up with

on their perfection, I broke the said ( oh! said perfection! )
( aaaaand you would be wrong! ) and done.  

Some poets have mastered this method, and I would not keep harping at you if I did not think you could. You have it all, Eerie: form, technicalities, spelling, grammar, essence, this is IT for you: enjambment. You master this aspect of your poetry and you'll move to a new level.

Let's look at two of your stanzas:

swarm, heaved with heavy heart /
to the doorstep of a farmer, a father, a man ( perfect )  
with no recourse; nothing but unfathomable    
grief and a rake to shake in the [face]
of God. Democracy, a misapplied
ideation rooted in soil ( perfect )  
of offshore inhabitants, willing to eat ( perfect )  
at tables overflowing /

with stars and stripes, while the rest/
of humanity, mouth agape, wrestles ( perfect )    
against blind cries of hate/
and freedom. A broken soldier returned ( perfect )    

Now in these two lines:

with no recourse; nothing but [ the ] unfathomable    
grief and a rake to shake in the [face]

You could actually insert a determiner and totally take it to a new level with the next line. You will master this, because it's what I'm intuitively led to point out in yours. You've greatly improved this aspect since last month, and it earned you a placement.

Congratulations on your first, well-deserved classic placement! We hope to see you back again this month.

* continued in next post *

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