Meeting the Bar: undressed

we’re breathing close
to dawn and thunderstorms,

get intimate
between the cardboard boxes

of a fallen world,

undress stained shirts
with shaking hands,

you hold me
like there are no crossroads,

as if we knew the way–

we meet in the monsoon
& on red traffic lights and

yesterday lies crumpled
on the floor between us,

we’re gypsies
in a worn down dream and
act like strangers on the run,

sunk in each other’s skin we
split the sky,


and disappear into the night

tonight we’re meeting the bar again…one last time with the wonderful Luke Prater, who also shot the above image…join us at dVerse Poets Pub to learn and hone our craft…gates open 3 pm EST


66 responses to “Meeting the Bar: undressed

  1. what crackle to this. comparing the charged air of a thunderstorm to the space between excited lovers is bloody brilliant. this is great writing, satisfying the reader with a climax and yet, leaving us wanting more-more-more…

  2. I enjoy the sensual lines specially these:

    “you hold me
    like there are no crossroads,

    as if we knew the way–”

    but why the last time for Luke ????

  3. “sunk-in each other’s skin we
    split the sky,”

    Beautiful alliteration- just rolls off the tongue. This poem has a very lyrical quality to it.

  4. It’s a great piece. The cardboard boxes and ‘sunk in [no hyphen] each others skin’ are fine touches. What carries the reader with an edge of tension here though is the skilful line/stanza breaking. Just disjunct enough to add a little ruffling but not so much as to destroy the Narrative.

    Little wary of mentions of stars in a love poem. Doing anything close to stars is best avoided if possible in my opinion. Also flirting with cliche are ‘yesterday’s lies’ and this tercet –

    we’re gypsies
    in a worn down dream and
    act like strangers on the run

    The closure is strong – ‘reclothe’ would suit better for me though than ‘clothe’.

    Good ink, Cloudy (not a bad picture either, haha)

    • smiles…thanks for allowing me to use the pic luke…i just love it…

      thanks also for your feedback…changed the stars to “dawn” to have a allit with thunderstorms…not really sure though if dawn isn’t as much cliché as stars…will ponder this…

      changed “then clothe” to “reclothe” and removed the hyphen on sunk in…
      i kinda like the gypsies though…hmmm…will think about it..

  5. This is a beaut of a poem Claudia, such a stolen moment here. I think it could do with a tiny tweak and a little snip here and there to tighten it up. See what you think, just suggestions as always.

    breathing close
    to dawn and thunderstorms,

    get intimate
    between the cardboard boxes

    of a fallen world,

    undress stained shirts
    with shaking hands,

    you hold me
    there are no crossroads,

    we know the way–

    we meet in the monsoon
    on red traffic lights and

    yesterday lies crumpled
    on the floor between us,

    we’re gypsies
    in a worn down dream and
    act like strangers on the run,

    sunk in each other’s skin we
    split the sky,


    and disappear into the night

    • hey julie..thanks for stopping by..good thoughts but in two places they change the meaning

      we meet in the monsoon and on red traffic lights.. i need the “and” here because i want to display two different places…very special and wild places like in the monsoon and very ordinary and annoying ones…like the red traffic light

      the other part i wrote: you hold me like there are no crossroads…i wrote it like that because there are crossroads and we deny them, don’t want to see them… if i write you hold me, there are no crossroads it changes the meaning completely

      will think about it…but not sure if i would still feel at home in the poem then…

  6. Beautiful poem, Claudia. I like Carys’ restructuring. I don’t know why you’re using “clothe” at all; if it were mine, I’d say “dress” which alliterates with disappear.

    • hmm…would be an idea..dress sounds more elegant and you’re right with the allit…clothe or reclothe sounds more earthy, i like how it feels in my mouth…maybe i want it more earthy here..not sure…will think about it..thanks gay..

      • “reclothe” is a much better word choice here. It’s more esoteric, more supple. It’s a languorous series of movements as opposed to mere functionality.

  7. wow Claudia– so much to love about this!

    my favorite lines–

    sunk in each other’s skin we
    split the sky,


    and disappear into the night

    I think “reclothe” works quite well in that line, although I am not sure if you need the word “and” in the last line.

    you evoke some strong emotions in this one Claudia. enjoyed it very much!

  8. “we’re breathing close
    to dawn and thunderstorms…”

    Hi! Claudia…
    Once again, your very poetic words leave me with a…warmth (like chocolate on the tongue, a cup Of coffee on a cold morning) I must admit that I hold my breath and when I’m through reading your words I “breath” again!
    Thanks, for sharing!

  9. Woops my post just disappeared… wonderful juxtapositions, shifts and double-takes Claudia…thos eopneing two lines are extraordinary… nothing like starting with a moon jump..

    My only tiny hesitation was that there was no surprise at the end… felt sure there would be…

    Superb verbal versatility as ever.. I raise my glass to you!

    I see Luke’s been playing with his camera again…..

  10. please don’t change:

    “as if we knew the way-”

    or “reclothe”

    or actually, please don’t change another word! from what you’ve explained in your comments, the poem as it stands says what you want it to with your trademark ultra-vivid imagery and passion ~ i like the “earthy, gypsy” feeling a lot!

    amazing, as always, Claudia. ♥

  11. “there are no crossroads,” contextually, is easily the best line in the poem. In the next line, rather than claim mere knowledge of the “the way,” I would like the lovers to claim both knowledge and creation of their particular via. Something more like “we shaped the way-” or ” we conceived the way-“. Perhaps the no/know duality is something you desire in the poem, but I’d rather the lovers be traveling their own unique path than to simply have found a way that others before them may have traversed.

  12. Hi Claudia – i actually admit to being a fan of your work – i look forward to reading your poems almost much as the classics that sit by my side.

    Your voice is strong without intrusion and fills me up with inspiration and hunger.

    Is it because English is not your first language ? (although im sure you speak and write it better than i) is this what awards you writing a subtle sense of anti – poise? perhaps this is your style – it is whatever the reason stylish – perhaps the slight discord only exists in my head and your craft and skill poke it with a gentle stick – i dont know or care much – i just enjoy.

    this piece is no exception

  13. I love this poem. But I adore its last two lines of verse. …then clothe / and disappear into the night. Beautiful. These two lines stir my soul when I take time to read this poem again and again, Claudia. They enliven my imagination. Also, I really like the structure and spacing of this poem. The spacing gives the narrative breathing room. Lovely work as usual my friend. Much luv for you, much luv.

  14. Hey Claudia!
    What a wonderful poem! (yes… as ALWAYS!)
    And – oh so enticing photo (Luke… great shot!)

    I love the crossroads,
    yesterday lies… (brilliant….)
    gypsies… (so my style)

    and can’t really add to what others have said. I’ll just be too repetitive.

    My “favorite” lines – if there is such a thing are – (we can talk Gestalt another time…)

    “we’re gypsies
    in a worn down dream …” —a-…

    – wonderful assonance. unwinding…

    I’m posting on my own tonight 😉
    Wouldn’t mind the critique, but too unskilled to give it.


  15. This really has a fleeting feeling befitting of gypsies! With the yesterday lies crumpled … and then they disappear into the night… and then you add the thunderstorms… Very nice.

  16. Again, my humble ability lies far beneath any level necessary to suggest ways to improve this. I just want to be a gypsy now…… to meet at monsoons and red traffic lights. God I wish I were 20 again…….

  17. I see now where all the action has been tonight :). I don’t want you to change ‘you hold me like there are no crossroads’ but enjoyed ‘reclothed’ as the suggestion from Luke. I’m so late there’s really nothing more to say except that it’s important you feel at home in your own poem.

  18. Especially like “between the cardboard boxes / of a fallen world” and “sunk in each other’s skin we / split the sky”

    The only bump for me came at the beginning with the shift from present-progressive to present tense:

    How about:

    breathing close
    to dawn and thunderstorms,

    we get intimate
    . . .


    we breathe close
    to dawn and thunderstorms,

    get intimate
    . . .

    Also, consider hyphenating “worn down”

  19. Claudia, I shared this on my FB page. The intimacy you’ve described here and everything involved in it is so sincere, so humane, and so real.

  20. There are some lovely images in this: ‘get intimate / between the cardboard boxes’ is a beauty, as is ‘Gypsies / in a worn down dream’. The whole poem is redolent of dream and the images use the language of dream. It may sound like cheating on our brief, but I am going to say there is nothing here that I would want to change. I just wish I had written it!


    Naked as a single breath
    A lonely river stands
    High up in an underground sky

    Smell the perfume
    Of the ocean breeze
    Caresses are stripping
    Your golden leaves off

    Cypresses are so cool
    When the wind is blowing
    Out of their siver mouth

  22. If I were asked to edit this brilliant poem I would offer the following. Not to rewrite it but to offer places to trim and add flow from a perspective not yours. I love yours as is, but if we read how someone else might have presented it, sometimes we can see something to file away for another time. I love your work and am still learning, but just offer this to share the little I know and be a part of community where were may learn something from each other.

    we’re breathing close
    to dawn and thunderstorms,

    between cardboard boxes

    a fallen world,

    undress stained shirts
    trembling hands,

    with no crossroads,

    as if we knew the way–

    from monsoon
    on red traffic lights

    yesterday crumpled
    on the floor between us,

    in worn down dreams
    strangers on the run,

    sharpened by each other’s skin we
    split sky,


    and disappear in night

    • thanks henry – i like resheath, first time i hear this word… usually i’m a big fan of trimming the fat but as fred mentioned below, your trimming changes the meaning in some places and i think i need some fat on this poem to keep it relevant for me and to make it feel a bit softer..

      • I agree wholeheartedly. Your passion, vision, heart, expression, reason for writing, entirely. I was basically practicing for myself because I am way too wordy, but never want to trim because it changes what I want to say. I love ur poem. and know the feeling. My apologies. I feel the same on suggestions on my poem, some suggestions are good, but it takes the focus off what I would like the reader to focus. I will try to do better and mind my place. Your work always inspires me!

  23. Claudia, really nice write. Such a smoothness to it’s flow. The short stanzas work really well here. Second half is my favorite, from monsoon to resheath, really well done

  24. woops, I thought there was something different, I went back and forth and realized the person right before me had the poem posted too, and laziness of scrolling caused me to stay still.

    but it was an edit, should have picked it up- reclothed still works well, but I actually really like the sheath imagery, I guess she did a couple other edits in there as well, didn’t really notice till now though, as I was looking for other changes, but I like the way you originally had it worded, as the edit kind of changes meaning a bit.

  25. I rewrote this, just for fun. Not that it needed all this rewriting, and I’m sure I’ve changed the meaning, although I wasn’t trying to change the meaning.

    Why? Sometimes, I write a poem, and leave it for years, and then I reshuffle the whole thing. For some reason, I felt like doing it to your poem. So really, it’s not a critique, as much as an exercise. I’m interested to see where this went for you.

    when you read it (my version) it has to have a “whatever” kind of tone. or a “oh yeah, that too, i almost forgot” kind of tone. for example, the first two lines, my connotation is, “we breath close to the dawn, and oh, yeah, there were thunderstorms, i guess i should mention that too.”

    i have no idea where i got this idea from, i’m just weird that way. so i hope you enjoy this scramble.

    we’re breathing close to dawn,
    and thunderstorms. get intimate
    between fallen cardboard boxes.

    with shaking hands, undressed,
    stained shirts hold us together,
    like there are no crossroads.

    if we had known the way–
    we might have met, in the monsoon,
    or on red traffic lights, yesterday.

    we lie, crumpled, on the floor between us.
    we’re gypsies in a worn down dream and
    act like strangers on the run.

    the sky split., we disappear
    upward, relinquishing into the night,
    we sink in each other’s skin, reclothed.

    • hm…some nice ideas but you changed the meaning severely and i think we should try to trim the fat, maybe change stanza- or/and line breaks when giving feedback…maybe suggest a different order but we should really try to protect the heart of the poem…don’t you think?

      • i realized i was changing the meaning. I was just playing. it’s just the mood i was in at the time.

        as for trimming the fat – too many “and” and also, see if you need LIKE where you have that word.

        then there the beginning: “we’re breathing close
        to dawn and thunderstorms,”

        i don’t really see the connection between the dawn and the thunderstorms.

        then I don’t get the connection with:
        we’re gypsies
        in a worn down dream and
        act like strangers on the run,

        but i guess, all this goes back to the “and”s you have. so look at the “and”s see if you really need them, see if there’s a connection, see if you need to break up the conjunctees (made that up)? just some thoughts.

  26. sunk into each other we crack the sky…beautiful line there claudia…hope you are having a lovely weekend away…see you on the other side of it…

  27. Wonderful poem. I’m not sure where I was when you posted this! The only thing I would change (if anything) would be the last line, as in losing the ‘the’ ~ ‘and disappear into night’ ..just ends it slightly better for me. Beautiful write, as always 🙂