Very interesting piece, Melissa, and thank you very much. It has a strategy to it that guides it from first to last word, and from the first word, that end point is where you are going. Either you had that clearly in mind, or you were able to revise the notion into the poem, but it gives the poem a feel of structure that many more experienced writers aren't able to achieve. That's a useful quality to have in a lyric poem, which can't afford time out for lollygagging.
Myself, I'm a free verse guy, but you're doing very well with the metrics here aside from one or two slightly awkward places. If we have a look in the first stanza, for example, the first line sets the iambic tetrameter and the second line sets up quite a clever set of variations. I read them as trochaic tetrameter, but you'll probably find others who'll differ with me on that reading. I think it's not only acceptable, but excellent.
The pieces fall to barren ground;
clinking, clicking, slipping, cracked.
But here, in the third line, you seem to have lost the beat, which has been solid and clear beforehand, and which — again, to my ear — has only three stresses in the eight syllables. You can and should use words as long as you want, but you also need to pay attention on revision to the level of diction the poem wants to take. This can be very difficult to alter. The strongly stressed first few lines have established a strong driving voice and diction for you, and when the stresses fall off in relation to the unstressed syllables, the poem sounds strange. I like the word "Nemesis," myself, but the line suffers for it here. The line needs to decide what it wants to be in relationship to the rest of the stanza. Right now, I believe it breaks down the drive and energy you've built up so far.
You should understand people often disagree with me.
The weak spot my nemeses found.
I have never found a place where the word "just" in the sense of "only" holds its weight in a poem. Mostly it serves as a place holder, if the writer wants an unstressed syllable to pad out a line, but in terms of meaning it is almost always useless. Taking it out takes nothing away from the poem and it adds a sense of concision. You will have a seven syllable line left, but it will still have four stresses, and most folks consider it a tetrameter line. Blake, Yeats and Auden have written in it and turned out quite respectable, even wonderful poems in it.
Now, I just want my armor back!
Here we come to the use of the word "armor."
The word has come to be one of the central metaphors of our time. It has come into our culture through any number of directions, all of them utterly respectable, including military history, cultural anthropology and psychology. In psychology, Wilhelm Reich was probably the first guy who started using it in the current sense back in 1918, when he wrote about Character Armor and how psychological defenses got stored in a person's ways of holding him or herself and in the form their musculature took. It's still fascinating today, and it's still stirs up a storm when it's discussed. The classic edition of the book, by the way, is called "Character Analysis," if you're at all interested.
It's also, like a lot of psychoanalytic ideas, passed into pop culture.
Like a lot of psychoanalytic ideas, unfortunately, it's become almost a cliche if not a cliche itself.
The poem is still a very fine poem, but you've gotten taken up temporarily by something that is completely not your fault, that is, a useful current idea that you've turned with extraordinary cleverness to your own purposes, and which you've done with a growing amount of skill.
This is in fact a poem to take a great deal of pride in. I certainly would, and I take a it as a privilege as being allowed to read it. Your skill seems to be growing from piece to piece and I admire that a great deal, and I admire the structure and drive you have here.
I think what happened is that there is a certain amount of difficulty in shifting your thinking from the world of ideas that you share with your friends, and which are important to you for that reason and which are very grounding to you and people in general, to thinking in terms of the specifics of the world, and from translating the story from one about the armor — which, yes, it really is about — to one about your conversation with the actual things and people of the world, a particular sunrise, a city limit, a rainstorm, a rash, a cake, a guy, a dresser drawer,
a Rubik's cube, an old dress, a cold dress, a bold dress, a shirt, a flirt, some dirt. When you talk about these sorts of things, your real concerns will find a way into them, as in fact they found their way so movingly into this poem.
Thank you very much, Bob Kaven