Joshua Jones draft for Neat14

8 May



Walking through the valley of the absurd

I see the skulls and skeletons of the faithful ones

from an anointed generation

strew and strown upon the battlefields

robbed of rose sprinkled coffins

stuck in the muck and mire amid desolate trenches

where screams are felt but no longer heard.

A vision so drained of hope I cried but dusty tears.


Into my shadowy sleep came a man

a survivor from the Great War,

carried into this valley upon the Wind

“Qoui?  Que’est ce que c’est? Here?  I do not want to be here!”

He surveyed the exhausted land

where the blood of brothers had been spilled

by man’s mundane inhumanities.


He saw the bones: buried and bare beyond all pretence

and found sanguine dreams far fewer than the wild poppies

which rarely growin this land of the Absurd


From all that is beyond I hear a voice

the Mouth of the Wind asks, “Son of Dirt, can these bones live?”

“Can they live? Like… The bones?  Mais…regarde! They’re dead!”

And the Wind is silent…The man thinks again…

Now managing a reverent whisper:

“Seulement toi. Only you know if they can have life.”

“Release the Spoken Word upon these bones, Son of Dirt,

so they may live.”


Beholding the lifeless landthe insanity of this task!

“Arrete! Who is sufficient to speak such things?  Come on.  Not me! Non!”

And as a coward dies a thousand times before the first plunge of a knife, so the spokesman’s courage wanes

as fear buries his heart; shutting his mouth…

And the Wind blows by…merciful and stern.

Finding trust in what cannot be seen, he awakens and obeys,

mustering words to offer from his shook and shaken soul.

“L-L-Live.  You. are. to. Live!  You are to rise up from the mud and live again!”


I watch in wonder as all around him

the bones of men whose ears have long since decayed

hear the spokesman’s spoken word…and the skeletons do stir.

Divorcing from the mud with flesh recomposing,

tendons grabbing, skin sealing, enrobing soldiers.

The refugee shouts and dances like a school boy winning his goal.

“The Spoken Word on bones! Boom! It’s like…merde!”


But he takes a second look.What’s this?! The bodies are bare of breath.Is my dream a torment?  Is this cruel hallucination but a pretence mocking the heroic efforts of our race

in the face of iron cast absurdity?


And into my ever deepening ValleyThe Mouth of the Wind speaks again:

“Son of Dust, Release the Spoken Word upon the Wind that it may cause the bones to live.”

“Encore? Speak to the air? Like, vraiment?”

Fighting as his mouth fills with the cement of fear

“W-W-Wind. Vien! Come from the four corners and breathe upon these slain so that they may live again! Vien!”

The tingling of a breeze.

Building… building until the Wind descends in tornado force

filling the bodies; regenerating; breathing.


He stands. No longer celebrating his successes but giving thanks in silent awe.


The death defying former corpses stand amazed; rejoicing to be alive they were… stupid happy.

The army dances, drinks, embraces; releasing that explosive laughter

which meaninglessness has always found so… offensive.


They rebuild ruins; turning graves into gardens; giving happiness for ashes. Not just healed, the land is exalted beyond all former remembrance


And absurdity is forgotten.


One Response to “Joshua Jones draft for Neat14”

  1. mouthypoets May 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    Hi Joshua,
    first of all: I’ll send you the updated information after I’ve given you my feedback! 🙂

    Second of all: Thanks for uploading your poem. Looking forward to hear this poem with your voice. 🙂

    Third of all my feedback:

    What really works for me:
    – The imagery evoked by your language, like ‘in the muck and mire of desolate fields where screams are felt but no longer heard’, ‘Zeke stares trembling at the lifeless land; the insanity of his task! [Who is sufficient to speak these things? Come on. Not me!] And as a coward dies a thousand times before the first plunge of a knife so Zeke strength wanes as fear buries his heart; shutting his mouth…’ and others
    – word of choice: it really works for me that use a style of language which you could associate to a more ‘older’ style, like ‘faithful ones from an anointed generation’, ‘sanguine dreams’, ‘reverent whisper’. These and other word choices really reflect the supernatural aspect of your poem and that your talking about a former war (for me for instance you’re talking about WWI, standing at the trenches of the former war line in Belgium, France or where exact it is)
    – It works for me that Zeke hesitates and is afraid to do the spells the wind asks him to do and that at the end, the soldiers become alive.
    – Despite being a supernatural poem where soldiers resurrect, it doesn’t evoke any association to religious beliefs or views. I don’t think of god, but instead I just think about the dead who are not in heaven or anywhere else but still in the mud. I quite like that. 🙂

    – Who’s the I in the first stanza? After that you don’t use any first person singular. So, decide on the poem’s narrator and perspective. 🙂 Or if you want to include the I-perspective, it must reappear later in the poem (to my mind)
    – What do the lines in [these brackets] or (these brackets) mean?

    – The ending is for me a bit too abrupt. I think you could include a stanza of the soldier’s reaction to the fact that their bodies live again. I think this poem could win a lot from this image.
    – It might help if you for yourself – in case you haven’t done it already – define who Zeke is: Where does he come from? What is he doing there? Why does the wind talk to him? etc. This may help your performance, but also to write down his reactions to the resurrecting soldiers.
    – word choice: What I said above – look at every word, in particular adjectives and check if you can replace them with more older, less used words.
    – You have a lot of long, beautiful sentences. Try out if you can insert short concise sentences which are to the point, like (just a suggestion):

    In the valley of the absurd I
    see the skulls and skeletons
    of the faithful ones
    from an anointed generation
    strew and strown
    without the dignity of rose showered coffins
    in the muck and mire of desolate
    fields where screams are felt
    but no longer heard.
    It was a place of war.

    – Notice also the line breaks I did above. These could help you putting emphasis in your performance and also editing your poem.

    Overall, this is my feedback (for now)! 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing your next draft


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