JM... long time no read. This is definitely something to which I must reply. I can't resist.
Generally, I'd have to say that I agree with Chris that the rhyme took a lot away from much of the poem. It wasn't good for the flow in some places... a rhymed dialogue can be a good idea, and I probably would have attempted it as well, were I in your place. But for some reason, it just didn't work in this poem. It took more away than it gave. I could see you labouring a bit on some of the rhymes (like that sore thumb of a fourth line, for example), and that hurt the poem quite a bit. One reason I can think of is that you spread your rhymes out so far that the rhythm didn't catch them. A bit of meter would have probably complimented the rhymes and ensured their proximity was effective... at least, in my humble opinion. Absent of this, crunching the rhymes a bit closer together would help them come across more smoothly. I'll go over it a second time now, trying to ignore the rhyme and take it as a dialogue. Which will be difficult to do, but hey, I'll give it a shot.
Okay, some more general comments after the second read. Firstly, I disagree with Chris that the bold was all that unnecessary. I liked how it made it easier to see who was saying what. Although, maybe italics would have been a nicer way of going about this. I still liked the distinction.
What bothered me was that, at the beginning, you were using out-of-quotation words in your sentences. like, "came the reply." But after the first two times, you pretty much left that one dangling. Why didn't you use it a bit more, later on in? You could have done a lot to talk about the tones of the two parties, the sound of their words, etc.
Now we go into specifics...
"You haven't even scratched the surface yet,
you know you have to, and you know the reasons why."
Like I said, sore thumb. The second line of this little duo sounds completely tried and inarticulate. Maybe you should consider rewording this a bit, if you revise this dialogue.
You open up after these few lines, though, and bloom into longer stanzas. I suppose you were trying to establish a healthy introductory section before moving into the more evenly sized stanzas? It works, if that's your intent. I do like how the poem evolves, then shortens towards the end. But this is getting general again, so I'll move on.
The entire torso of this poem has a lot of meat in it, but sometimes it lacks nutrition, if you get me. There are some very deep sentiments, but they are often flanked by redundancy, or lines that seem almost unnecessary. And some of it goes into pretty generalized emotions that don't explain themselves. Like this stanza:
"Some things are better left unsaid ...
left buried like the dead, left alone in my head.
Some things are better kept inside ...
you don't know the times I've tried,
you don't know the tears I've cried."
That entire stanza kinda made me cringe, to be honest. You had some really thought-poking lines earlier in the poem, in the previous bold stanza, with some good imagery. Then you followed up with this somewhat weak and broad expression of general anxiety... come to think of it, this poem could use some fancification. Where are all your trademark images and creative wordings that make me stop and grin during the poem? I somehow feel you missed out on that a bit.
I know that what you're saying in this stanza is important in the entire poem, but I'd spice the stanza up more with a few more fancy symbols or something.
Next stanza, after that one, is cool... I like the reuse of the -ection rhyme, it sounded neat. Kind of quizzical, like a cheshire cat. Really helps the tone of the poem.
Now the only reason I sound so critical of this poem is because it's so big, and there's so much I found that I felt was worth commenting. I do enjoy your poetry, JM. And I did enjoy this one. Even the conclusion, as usual in your writing, was strong and left me loving the poem. You drew a nice connection between the two parties here, with a good mix of inquiry and cynicism. Bravo.
p.s. You used the word "cadenced" twice. I'm only mentionin that because I'd want someone to point that out to me.
All images begin in mirrors and end inside our subconsious.
~Genesis P-Orridge, "Thee Reversal of Fate"
[This message has been edited by Allan Riverwood (05-30-2002 08:10 PM).]