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The Last Minute · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Last Minutes
The last minute, imagine
that moment drew near.
Would you calmly await it, or shiver in fear?
Would you boldly take action, or not even care?
What do you think you'd do then?
I'm eager to hear.

"I'd laugh," said the jester, "I'd take it in stride.
"Our good times may end now, but why should we cry?
"New good things may find us, if just we don't hide!
"Be ready to greet them with arms open wide."

"I'd rush," said the lazy, "do as much as I can.
"Of work under pressure, I'm not a huge fan,
"but I put my chores off, don't stick to the plan.
"So I'd be cursing myself, and regretting it then."

"Arrive," said the hero, "I'd enter the scene.
"When all hope seems lost, then I'd intervene.
"I'd break up the fight with a smile so its sheen
"would serve as reminder that right reigns supreme."

"Depends," said the wise man, "on which one you mean.
"There's thousands of minutes, and each is unique.
"And once they are over, they can't be retrieved,
"so each one is precious, would you not agree?"

The last minute, imagine
the moment draws near.
Will you calmly await it, or shiver in fear?
Will you boldly take action, or not even care?
What do you think you'll do then?
I'm eager to hear.

"Clean up," says the worker, "so that when it's done,
"I'll be ready to leave, and can quickly drive home.
"Cause once I arrive there, then I'll be welcome
"with a wonderful hug from my wonderful daughter."

"I'll bark," says the puppy, "and scratch at the door,
"that she left through alone. I'll jump on the drawer,
"watch the school bus arrive, with thunderous roar.
"What if she won't return? Will I be uncared for?"

"I'll run," says the seeker, "I will find them all.
"I'll win hide and seek. Don't care where you've crawled.
"You can't hide from me! No matter how small!
"The minute I've left still will be your downfall!'

"I'll read to my child," says the dad with a grin.
"A poem or a story of what once has been.
"I gently will kiss her, then I'll tuck her in,
"so she'll sleep like on clouds, have a wonderful dream."

"What'd you do?" I whisper,
press a kiss to her cheek,
but my child doesn't answer.
She has fallen asleep.
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#1 · 1
· · >>FloydienSlip

I'm not the best judge. And even if I were, I wouldn't want to judge it againt prose fiction. The metrics just aren't the same. But I'll try my best here.

For the most part, I can speak this aloud and it sounds okay, but a few lines here and there miss the beat. I'm sure there's a poetic license word somewhere that drops a syllable or something to make it line up, but... The rhyme scheme though just seems to be hap hazard. Some verses rhyme every line, others are AABA, still others have no rhyme at all... and everything in between.

Overall, I like the theme, but it's too long for the content it has. In a poem, I feel every line must be strong, and this, while it has a few, is mostly filler to me. Bottom line, art should take effort to make, not to enjoy.
#2 · 2
· · >>libertydude
Echoing >>Xepher with the rhythm. This was well done for the most part, but the bizarre on-again, off-again rhyming threw me for a loop, and there were a few lines that had a syllable or two extra. I enjoyed the content, and while I think the style worked in your favor, I'm not sure the piece is successful as a whole. It didn't really draw me in.
#3 · 3
I think the strongest part of this piece is the ending. It explains why the poem uses so simple language, and it adds a certain emotional element to the final lines. But the rest of the poem doesn’t really seem to connect for me. One of the biggest reasons is the continual rhyming. As >>FloydienSlip pointed out, there are a few inconsistencies in the rhyming and the number of syllables. I wouldn’t mind if the poem was supposed to be staggered or off, but that doesn’t feel like the intention. If you’re going to keep the poem firmly structured, you need to follow that structure.

A well-written and simple poem, but not much else.
#4 · 3
There were a few things that stuck out to me about the structuring; I think there was a line or two a bit off on the meter, and the rhyme did seem kinda haphazard. At least in one place, the words felt unnaturally twisted, for no real reason. (just we -> we just)

Pretty good style choice, though. Felt like Dr. Seuss in the meter and when it did rhyme, and that dovetailed with the ending.

But... this felt a bit heavy, as a topic for a children's poem. And I don't think there's a whole lot of cohesion to this besides similarity in topic choice; each stanza varies quite widely, and they never really tie together or evolve the idea beyond a simple answer. As such, I find myself wishing there was a bit more depth here.

Well, you definitely put some work into writing this. Consider counting syllables on your fingers or using a rhyming dictionary if you'd like to hammer out a more precise rhyme and meter. And maybe doing a bit more with your interim stanzas instead of just asking questions, to try and draw the 'I would' bits together into a greater whole?

Hopefully this was even a little helpful. Poetry is hard to grasp sometimes.
#5 ·
Like all poetry here, abstention.
#6 · 7
· · >>AndrewRogue
The reviews above me have pinpointed a number of problems with this entry, but... well, I'm the kind of person who likes to talk about why things work or not, rather than what is right or wrong. The way I see it, talking about these things in depth can help us all to be better writers... or, in this case, better poets. Worst comes to worst, hopefully we all learn something?

So, without further ado, let's talk about some of the stuff that doesn't quite work out in Last Minutes.

Take the metre, for example. Like, almost every stanza here is anapestic tetrameter, though there's a fair amount of iambic substitution (I'm not gonna count, but I think there might be more lines that open with iambs than anapests! But iambic substitution is a big part of anapestic metre anyway, so that's not a problem)... but there are a few places where the meter just doesn't add up. Iambic substitution works by dropping an unstressed syllable from the start of a line, but I've seen a few places where you've treated a line as two sets of anapestic dimeter and substituted an iamb in on the second one... and that doesn't quite work.

Here, this'll be easier to understand with examples rather than just jargon:

When all hope seems lost, then I'd intervene.

In context (because in the context of anapestic tetrameter, we all unconsciously try to read lines as close as possible to that meter!), that has the following meter: x/xx/,x/xx/ (x unstressed, / stressed). And you know, that's a pretty neat meter! But it stands out here because it breaks something that's very important to anapestic tetrameter: flow. You know how a lot of Dr Seuss' poems had that almost train-like rhythm to them, rattling forwards with momentum that couldn't quite be stopped? Substituting an iamb at the start of a line never hurt that momentum: in fact, it often helped it keep going by getting us to the next stressed syllable faster despite the pause of a line break. Here, though, substituting an iamb in in the middle of the line feels like a lurch in that train journey—it pulls us out of the rhythm and stops all that momentum you've worked so hard to build. Like I said, it's an excellent meter, but I don't think it's one that works with the context of this poem.

Here's a line that doesn't quite work for a different reason altogether:

So I'd be cursing myself, and regretting it then.

Which is: xxx/xx/xx/xx/. Now you might be tempted to assume that's a line in pentameter of some kind: a pyrrhic, an iamb, then three anapests. But the poem by this point is very firmly established in tetrameter, and it's so close to anapestic tetrameter that you're almost forced to read those first four syllables as something I learned just now is called a quartus paeon. The effect of that, of course, is to read those first three syllables really fast to fit them all in one foot, and that is rather uncomfortable. Again, this break in the metre is jarring and, in this case, trips up the momentum of the piece.

That's just a few examples of why some of the rhythms here aren't working. Remember, there's nothing wrong with varying your metre in poetry (just look at all the lines here with iambic substitution that totally get a pass!), but you should always keep in mind the effect that varying it will have, and how that fits into the flavour of the base metre you're using.

So with all that complaining about syllables out of the way, let's talk about the coolest thing in this poem: the refrain. Like most of the other stanzas, it's four lines of anapestic tetrameter... but you've taken the really interesting decision of breaking up the first and last lines into literal pairs, which gives them a totally different feeling. I actually quite like the effect of this, especially on the first line: giving the reader that space to pause and imagine before you plough onwards is a really cool little device and does a lot of good work for you. I'm less convinced on the final pair of lines, though in my defence that's probably because they don't even resemble anapestic meter, except that you might be able to argue that they have a few trisyllabic feet between them. Still, if you tidy them up, I can see how they could do just as much work as the first two!

And then there's the rhyme scheme. You know, given this entry is very much set up to be a child's bedtime poem, you'd expect to see a really strong, consistent rhyme scheme... and yet the rhymes here are all over the place. Some are half-rhymes, some feel rather forced, and in other places you abandon all semblance of a rhyme scheme and give us four lines with no rhyming endings at all! At first I'd thought this was going to be a really cool little trick ("oh, hey, let's break the rhyme scheme during the stanza where the character is taking about things being unique and different, and emphasise that by having no line-end rhymes!") but there ended up being more cases where I couldn't see a justification for the breakage than not. Ultimately, I think that weakened this piece.

Still, content-wise? This is cool. I love the idea on display here, and I think you've picked the perfect medium for it (and that's not an easy feat in and of itself!) Though I think the poem itself could do with a fair bit of tidying up, I don't think that detracts all that much from reading it—I know from experience quite how difficult strict metres can be, and I absolutely applaud the effort here. It's a really interesting take on the prompt, a really thoughtful and emotive piece, with an excellent structural frame. I really hope you work on this, author, because I'd love to see this tidied up. It's Flawed, but Fun, and I liked it a lot.

(I'm not going to give this story a HORSE score. Sorry, author—I'm not entirely sure how I'd apply the format to verse, particularly less-narrative verse like this, when it seems to have been a system primarily designed for discussing stories. So in lieu of that, I'm going to give you a quick three bullet-point list of poetry-specific things I think you should be looking towards focusing on in improving this piece:

• Rhythm and metre—which is why I spent so long talking about it in quite detailed terms above! I get the impression you've got a really strong grasp of what you want to do with metre in this poem, but either because of time constraints or simply mistakes (they happen to me all the time!) some parts that didn't quite work fell through the editing process. I know this'll probably take a lot of work to tidy up, but I also know you can do it because, despite all my complaints, most of the lines here have a really strong sense of meter.
• Forced word choices/order—there's a few places where, either to fit the rhyme scheme or the metre, you've messed with word order away from grammatical norms. That's pretty standard practice in a lot of poetry, but I'm not so sure it fits in children's lit, which this entry is ostensibly masquerading as. Maybe worth rethinking some of those?
• Punctuation—just a nitpick, really, but it's something I mentioned last round: all those repeated opening quotes are extremely weary on the eyes! I know why you've done it, but I'd really question this decision. There are a few other punctuation choices I'm not super convinced by, too. In poetry, punctuation is an incredibly important tool, and using it well can take an otherwise unexceptional poem and really make it shine!

Hope those tips and all the above come in handy, author, and I'm sorry if any of this sounds patronising. As someone who greatly enjoys writing verse, especially metred verse, I figured you might appreciate some feedback from a different angle than the comments above.)
#7 · 2
Well, I'm really not going to be more helpful than >>QuillScratch.

I will say I think the refrain has some problems, because it indicates a very specific last minute you are wanting to discuss... and then the majority of them actually are not talking about that sort of last minute. So you set up a certain expectation and even repeat it, but you don't really go through with it, instead opting for more of a kid's "the hour is over" sort of story, which I find a bit distracting. Like, that direction is fine, but I feel you just don't set up well for it because the refrain and jester's comments are too singleminded.
#8 · 3
So I started off this round intending to comment on everything in my slate, commented on one story and then got assigned a big coding project. So this time I'm going to try and comment on everything in the finals! Probably!

Since Quill just about curbstomped anything I could say about the meter or flow of this (which is great because boy he knows a lot more then me in that field) I wanted to talk about subject matter.

Somebody above said that this seems too heavy of subject matter for a children's rhyme. I strongly disagree. Some of the most common rhymes I remember from my childhood were very, very heavy and dark when you think about them for more than a second. A child will most likely not understand the heaviness now, but will reflect on it later in life.

That feeling of reflection is really captured here. It's a bit broken by the missing rhymes and breaks in meter, but it still shines through in the piece as a whole. I appreciate this piece a lot for being able to grasp the heart of a children's rhyme as well as the appearance.

Also, this may just be a personal thing for me, but I'd have liked it if you'd used the refrain one more time. Right now, with only one repetition after the initial appearance, it doesn't feel as much like a true refrain. Just once more or so would've made it feel more cohesive imho.
#9 · 1
I am far from an expert on poems, but this is at least somewhat well executed and certainly a break from the norm in this Writeoff (in a good way). Some of the lines lacking a rhyme (or at least, an obvious one) made it difficult to feel a tempo, though, and while the first half feels like it's set in a more medieval time, the second is distinctly more modern. Perhaps I am missing some important bridge or theme to it, but they feel rather disparate to each other (and I must admit, I enjoyed the first half more than the second).

And despite what others might say, a poem is a valid storytelling format, for writing has no rules besides 'engage the reader' and may make all the 'mistakes' it wishes in service of that goal (although the greater the deviation, the more deft the writing hand must be to compensate).