Lit.Org - a community for readers and writers Advanced Search

Average Rating

(9 votes)

RatingRated by

You must login to vote

A Prayer for Rust

Heartless? It's nothing
You'll never miss the ache.
Peer at the world
through monochrome
bombardier eyes, though?

She should've left me
busted, that pigtailed slip, of a girl
bearings needing grease
a gargoyle posed
axe mid-stroke
victim ofgunmetal clouds
and the subtle invasion
of a rainy day.

The straw haired fellow
in wash water rags
told me it was a Monday morning
when they found me,
beside the crumbed stone wall

Mondays make poor beginnings.
This was no exception.

Cunning, quick
they had me written
Into the role of
second boon companion
Heartless, sword less
Tin soldier.

The gingham lass escaped,
In three ruby clicks.
The straw man got his brains
the lion enough intestines
to earn a crown.
My reward was nothing
handfuls of cogs and springs
stuffed in my hollow breast
to rattle-clang like handfuls
of gravel and worn coins.

For a time I believed I could feel.


The Emerald City no longer looms
from its implacable hilltop
Children always trade in crayons
for late nights curled in blankets of smoke
lulled to sleep by of static television sets
or black and white movies
no one will ever bother
to Technicolor.

Dorthy's gone grey
and her little dog too.
Scarecrow's long since
been turned to ash
Munchkin land's a graveyard
Tiny tombstones all in rows
the great Lion's age's showing
he'll chase no more rabbits to their holes.

They were the lucky ones.

Oz' gone modern
we've replaced yellow bricks
emerald glass, with concrete towers
and asphalt streets,
the newspaper strikes
the stoop promptly
in a cloud of dust.
5 am

Here I am the Distinguished Gentleman
With my tin roof house
Mirrored in a lake so large
You'd swear that sharks and porpoises
cruise its depths like an ocean.

The last bastion of what was…

Man of tin, Nick Chopper
Man of sin, owner of a clockwork heart
That's long since wound down
Last of the legends in this whetstone town

The past sharpens the edge of the future
The mice of yesterday are the cats of today
Put your finger on the edge of anything here
And you'll draw back a bloody stump

Fairy tales, hacked me apart
one grim piece at a time,
left me hollow
revived me with emerald dreams
to slowly dismantle my world
one cog, one coiled spring
at a time

There's no yellow brick road
to lead me away these days
The best I can do is rust away
and hope my joints part in red crumble dust
It's criminal that time's
the lone assassin

Smile if you're stupid,
laugh if you understand.

Related Items


The following comments are for "A Prayer For Rust"
by Bartleby

This is a very vivid piece and a very original title.

With each stanza I knew the feeling you were alluding to. Alot went into this.


( Posted by: londongrey [Member] On: January 6, 2005 )

Tinman and Bart.
I can't begin to tell you enough ow much I love this poem. Not just the flair you have but all the wonderful levels I find here. How what is essential to us, our hearts and loves are taken by time. The woodsman and his absent heart, wanting love. The inevitable passing of time and 'progress' we all must abide. It's rich with the lore of Baum, and strong in metaphor. I keep finding more in it to think about each time I read it. Thank you for sharing this. huni.

( Posted by: huni [Member] On: January 6, 2005 )

Very visual
I loved the spin. Great writing.

( Posted by: DonnaJ [Member] On: January 6, 2005 )

A Prayer for Rust
Bart, where do you come up with this??? My God, your words amaze me here. So original and written in color. Does that make sense? You are an awesome writer! Would never, ever, ever, go against you in a write off, you make me shake in my boots!


( Posted by: nae411 [Member] On: January 7, 2005 )

Phenomenal writing
This is some excellent writing you have here. I have to agree with some of those that have commented before me, that the more times it's read, the more you find.

This has made its way onto my top 5 favorites of all time. This is fantastic work. Wow!

Small typo, stanza 2, line 6, there should be a space between of and gunmetal.

And one line that I had a slight issue with, is in the stanza third from the bottom. The last line "And you'll draw back a bloody stump," this line stuck out to me for some reason. The language throughout seemed very flowing, and this line sort of stopped the flow. Maybe that was your intention, and if so, well done.

Anyhow, again what a wonderful job, I ADORE it!

( Posted by: everybodyelsesgirl [Member] On: January 7, 2005 )

See you in the library Bart!
Bart...I cannot believe that you aren't a household name in the literary world out there...a must in every library...a textbook on how to write..mesmerizing every student on the planet! (Would you give your muse Gram's address please?)

This is absolutely brilliant and open to so many interpretations by the reader. To someone my age,(definetly not Grandma!) it could be the reality of advancing years... experience being cast aside...viewed as no longer functional...dreams no longer viable...days in the sun long forgotten...triumphs a distant memory to the world at large. What was once a shining star relegated to being merely tolerated...or at worst...discarded! It would be interesting to know your real intentions...what are YOUR metaphors hiding?

Love everything you write Bart...see you in the library!


( Posted by: Beatrice Boyle [Member] On: January 8, 2005 )

Thoughts on Rust
First of all I would like to thank everyone that took the time to both read and comment on this poem.

This poem came from a writing exercise I was given by a fellow writer I greatly respect when I asked for help in improving my craft. I owe some of more succulent phrasings to his suggestions and it is wonderful to see that so many people enjoyed the results of both my efforts behind the pen and his excellent teaching.

I'm especially glad that so many of you took the time to see beyond the basic level of the poem, even going so far as to see themes that I hadn't considered while writing. That's part of the magic of poetry, the abundance of meaning that can be pulled from a single piece.

Now that I have seen what everyone liked about the poem, I'd really like some thoughts on what didn't work. I'd like to sharpen this piece for possible publication and any input no matter how harsh would be appreciated.

Once again, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with me.


( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: January 8, 2005 )

Thought I'd make a stop and glance at an old friend's recent work. Am I glad I did. With almost every try you're getting better. For many reasons, I think this is your best yet. There are themes here that are powerfully expressed, and your have mastered the writen word here.

per your request, let me address the shortcommings.

"You'll never miss the ache" implies 'I' WILL become heartless, while "You'd never miss the ache" implies 'I'll' not miss it if I WOULD become heartless. Sutle but clear difference I think.

"victim ofgunmetal clouds" obvious spacing issue

"Mondays make poor beginnings.
This was no exception." out of place in the rhythm IMHO. Adds nothing to the poem.

"but" It's kinda out there, and I think you can do something more effective with it. Try playing around with it.

"Here I am the Distinguished Gentleman" reads like it should be two lines

"Man of sin" I didn't catch why he's a man of sin, so it seems like it's there for the rhyme. Might be out of place, and you don't need ot rhyme, though whetstone town is awesome (rhyme with down).

In general I think the theme is incredible, that given a heart all the tin man can do is watch everything he loves dissapear. What a nerve you've touched here. I would work on the finish a little more to get back to the 'heart' of the matter. (the lone assasin line was just ok for me, and agree that there's two too many aways in the stanza) Ok, that's the's what I adored.

Your second stanza. Marvelous. The images flow so well, it's right up there with the best of anything I've ever read. Though I would have prefered it lined up:
"She should've left me
that pigtailed slip of a girl,
bearings needing grease
a gargoyle posed
axe mid-stroke
victim of gunmetal clouds
and the subtle invasion
of a rainy day."

Stanza that begins "The gingham lass escaped," reveals for us slow witted people the end peice of the puzzle of what you've been talking about. It's well laid out.

"Dorthy's gone grey
and her little dog too."
"Fairy tales, hacked me apart
one grim piece at a time,"
Nice homages there. I laughed, even through the morbidity (or perhaps because of it).

"The past sharpens the edge of the future
The mice of yesterday are the cats of today
Put your finger on the edge of anything here
And you'll draw back a bloody stump"
Loved it for giving breadth to the work, but it does interrupt the flow too. I'm conflicted with this one, and can see why another didn't care for bloody stump. Love it, but also will say can do without it. Contradiction? oh, well.

In closing, if I were you I'd take every line and try rearraging the end and start of them to see what works best. Try multiple writes of it. Mostly I think it all flows well. I think the theme is fantasitic. It sums up nostalgia and the loss of what we cherish over time. Word choices are great. What more can I say? Let us know when it's published.

( Posted by: malthis [Member] On: January 9, 2005 )

bloody stumping
Windchime and Malthis:

Before I say anything more, let me start with my sincerest thanks for taking the time to really delve into this poem. I have since reworked the poem with some of your observations in mind as well as a few of my own. This poem approaches a length which is a bit uncomfortable for me these days. In my youth, all of my poems were easily longer than this, but I begin to whittle my style and verbosity down with time. I feel like this piece more than anything else I've written in recent years as the biggest departure. I'm pleased with it and hope to one day see this one in print some day.

I will address the bloody stump line because it seems to have had the most jarring impact. Which is good because that was the intention. Perhaps it is more important to note that a bewitched axe is the reason the Tin Woodsman existed at all. He was indeed chopped to bits, replacing each bit with a tin replacement in turn resulting in his more familiar state. You'd have to be an Ozphile to know that one, I had to be reminded through research although I read all of the Baum books as a boy.

So that's why I will be keeping it.

But most of your other comments were spot on in my opinion and I appreciate all the time you both took in reading and responding on this piece. Feel free to critique any of my work both fast and future in this manner. I'm all about learning from my mistakes.


( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: January 12, 2005 )

Loss of Oz as social commentary been done before, but you managed to make it fresh.

What I liked: "no one will ever bother to technocolor" -- in one sentence you've succeeded in translating a generation's callous treatment of its elders (at least for me). superb.

"Tiny tombstone all in rows" a great image, and oddly humorous and sad. Also brings to mind the temporal quality of all life, including movie life. Never thought munchkins grew old, let alone died. I wonder how th flying monkeys are doing -- retired in Boca?

"newspaper a cloud of dust" -- again a great use of a visual to "say" what could take a paragraph of exposition.

Generally what I like about your poetry (and how it differs from much free verse poetry on litorg) is that you're able to tell your story using a few well placed images, rather than simply creating a narrative with arbitrary line breaks. Your words are well chosen and carry weight.

What I didn't like: still too long! I felt like you were "there" a couple of times, and yet the poem continued. I know that its difficult to leave clever phrases out, but I think your poems would transcend good if you distilled them down to their essence. Maybe go for the quicker, more powerful hit, than the lingering pinch.

Specifics: I don't think lions chase rabbits -- seems out of scale. I guess if left with no other choice they would, but the image strikes me oddly -- like a wolf stalking a grasshopper.

First stanza, I'd take out the "you'll", and begin the third sentence with "but" and remove the "though" form the end (that way the reader knows where you're headed before, not after).

The "man of of sin" stanza seems redundant to the poem, and too sing-songy for the rest of the poem.

Anyway -- real good. Brad

( Posted by: brad [Member] On: January 13, 2005 )

Thank you for both the compliments and the sound advice. I may not agree with all of your suggestions, but the certainly have enough merit to bear a little more scrutiny.

It may be important to note that most of the lines that you selected as standouts were ones that I personally are not overly fond of. It seems to be a matter of personal preference but I'm glad to see that the lines that held less sway with the author still have impact with at least one reader.

While I see the social commentary that you mention, it's not the message that was in mind while I was writing. But that is beauty of poetry, what I get from a poem is no more important than what you decipher as you read it. Both points have equal value.

Thank you for your comment and the time it took to read and reply to such a long piece.


( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: January 13, 2005 )

Pen's spoils

That's the beauty of cultural icons, they can take on so much more meaning than those the author intended. I try to avoid delving into what the author of such beloved children's stories had on their agenda because as you said it ruins the magic. And there is prescious little of that left these days.

I'm glad you enjoyed the poem, and thanks for the comment.


( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: January 14, 2005 )

Add Your Comment

You Must be a member to post comments and ratings. If you are NOT already a member, signup now it only takes a few seconds!

All Fields are required

Commenting Guidelines:
  • All comments must be about the writing. Non-related comments will be deleted.
  • Flaming, derogatory or messages attacking other members well be deleted.
  • Adult/Sexual comments or messages will be deleted.
  • All subjects MUST be PG. No cursing in subjects.
  • All comments must follow the sites posting guidelines.
The purpose of commenting on Lit.Org is to help writers improve their writing. Please post constructive feedback to help the author improve their work.