fallen feather

Image by KM&G-Morris via Flickr

Luke Prater is hosting Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft at dVerse Poet’s Pub:  We invite you to link up a poem of yours for some expert critique. Luke discusses eliminating redundancy, tightening up those words so that they deliver the message more effectively. Be sure to read his masterful instructions. I chose this poem that never quite worked for me and immediately saw a problem: everywhere I’ve written “because” I had “Partly because…” Yikes. Talk about unnecessary adverbs. Anyhoo, join up. You won’t be sorry.


it barely had a taste of life,
sipping nectar from the Carolina Jasmine
or our feeder (once or twice)
before the hawk swept in,
leaving behind only a few feathers.

Because I had waited, watched
the mother sit upon a tiny egg
within a tiny nest sheltered in the
prickly branches of a
crimson Bougainvillea.

Because she hovers just
outside my window,
lingers nearby in case her little one
returns. Because of that, I grieve.

38 thoughts on “Because

  1. Pat Cegan says:

    Sad poem but lovely. I had a similar experience when the lizards ate tiny eggs nesting next to a ramp walkway on my house. I never even saw the babies but still felt so sad that they did not have a chance to live. hugs, pat


  2. dani says:

    you have succeeded quite well in conveying the sadness amid the indifference of nature. i love this!


  3. Mike says:

    This has to be one of my favourite poems on the whole of this Linky List.
    I loved your original words and then the various critiques – especially what Beth did.
    I feel as if I have learnt such a lot from following the comments above. Thanks.


  4. mish says:

    I enjoyed the poem as is ! As much as you want to change the word “because” , it serves the purpose of re-inforcing and sustaining the sombre mood in your poem (IMHO).


  5. This is lovely, and sad. I could see the scene and feel it. I love the last stanza. The phrases: “she hovers” , “lingers nearby”, and “I grieve” contain strong verbs, and those, along with the phrase “little one” are what evoke the emotion in me. Very much enjoyed this!


  6. This is beautiful and sad. I enjoyed it much, especially that last line. Just wonderful 🙂


  7. Thanks everyone for reading, crits and comments. This is a terrific process. I’ll rewrite after a while. I like to allow suggestions time to gestate!


  8. Tom Eliot says:

    Hi Victoria

    Im very late to the party on this one but i am glad i made it.
    Beth and others have obviously offered some great words to the wise.
    I would probably inject some crazy tangent any way which just would not do in this case because this is a fine realist write full of beauty and gorgeous sentiment – observational but poetic just the same… I am a tough guy ya know but i think something got in my eye as i got to the end..maybe an eyelash……pass me a kleenex…….




  9. Sharmishtha says:

    thats so very painful – to see a mother looking for her child that is lost forever.


  10. ayala says:

    I love how you captured the moment….lovely.


  11. Claudia says:

    love how you combine nature and death here…read the other comments and think no need for another crit..i just enjoyed the read..smiles


  12. I do like the various suggestions, despite having also liked the original. The “or the feeder” had puzzled me, so I was glad of the explanation.

    Maybe the “because” was to a prompt???

    This is from Beth’s pruned version:
    …barely a taste of life,
    sipping Carolina Jasmine nectar
    or our feeder (once or twice)
    before the hawk,
    leaving feathers behind…

    I would prefer “beore the hawk left feathers behind” for the sake of clarity.


  13. brian says:

    hey victoria…a tragic view for sure…and a nice capture…i would tighten it up a bit and dump the passive language make it active and make us see and feel it…unless because was a theme you started at the beginning i would get away from it…


  14. Beth Winter says:

    Oh, this is wrenching! Beautiful and wrenching.

    I like one instance of the word because. You will see in just a minute. I pared this down, removing words that in my opinion, didn’t add to the poetic quality of the poem. Here is what I came up with. Feel free to toss if you don’t like it.

    barely a taste of life,
    sipping Carolina Jasmine nectar
    or our feeder (once or twice)
    before the hawk,
    leaving feathers behind.

    I waited, watched
    mother and egg
    tiny nest
    in prickly branch shelter
    of crimson Bougainvillea.

    she hovers
    by my window,
    lingering, waiting
    in case her little one returns.

    because of that, I grieve.

    Now, I need a tissue. Thank you for sharing this incredibly touching poem.



  15. Heaven says:

    I am also here for the content… I like the scene you painted with your words.

    It’s great to read all the comments ~


  16. Aida says:

    Hi Victoria. You’ve written a heart-felt poem.
    I agree with many here that the word “because” is not needed. As a poet one doesn’t have to justify him/herself. You’ve received great suggestions and advice for what is already a beautiful write 🙂


  17. souldipper says:

    Victoria, I do not feel qualified to critique, but I want to tell you, the poem just flooded me with memories of a mother robin crying over her loss from the brances closest to my house. She was relentless. She only stopped after I brought my cat into the house. Guess we know the story…

    I grieve, too.


  18. Kim Nelson says:

    Like a short film, this one. I read it, saw it, enjoyed. Only thing I’d change? Remove ‘Because’ from the first lines of S2 and S3, and end it with “I grieve.”


  19. John says:

    Hi I read the line in the second stanza as the bird sipping nectar from the flower or the feeder, which is not possible.

    I would tend to strip out one of the images as it slows the narrative. Also (IMHO) cut out several words/phrases. to something like this.

    it barely tasted life,
    sipping nectar
    from the Carolina Jasmine
    before the hawk dived
    leaving feathers.

    However, this may not be the style or mood you wanted to create so feel free to ignore.


    • We have a hummingbird feeder and a Carolina Jasmine and the little hummingbirds dart from one to the other. Thanks for the suggestions, John. It definitely needs a lot of tightening.


  20. umaa says:

    Interesting poem and the because goes well with them


  21. Bodhirose says:

    I’ll speak more to the content… because… I need to learn so much more to even attempt to critique. But I too see hawks at my feeders. One sat for over a half hour over the feeder in the backyard–he was eating something…


  22. christi moon says:


    I agree with wolfsrosebud above in that I am not certain if the word ‘because’ is adding anything of value (IMHO) to your poem, especially as it is repeated several times. The word ‘just’ in the last stanza could also be stripped, this word also doesn’t add anything meaningful or assist with creating imagery in your lovely and poignant poem. I might also remove ‘it’ from L1.

    love these lines–

    within a tiny nest sheltered in the
    prickly branches of a
    crimson Bougainvillea.


  23. wolfsrosebud says:

    I love the event of the piece. The words selected are like a continual snap shot of pictures. I’m wondering if the word “because” is helpful to the poem.

    Here’s an example of the last stanza:

    “Because she hovers just
    outside my window,
    lingers nearby in case her little one
    returns. Because of that, I grieve.”


    She hovers
    outside my window,
    nearby in case her
    little one returns;
    while I grieve

    Just a thought. Would have liked to been there to see the event.


  24. David says:

    First, Victoria, let me say what a lovely poem. Poignant — yet not demurring from a stark depiction of the violence inherent in nature (last two lines of S1). Not too much to trim in these very tight verses, but might I suggest: “few” feathers, “tiny” nest, and “little one” (consider another more tangible image for nature’s victim). I think that “tiny egg” alone might be sufficient to suggest the scale. In fact … what if you referred to “tiny” feathers in S1? Going forward you could then trim all the adjectives suggesting smallness — and put all of the descriptive weight on those branches. Does “prickly” convey all that you’d like to convey here?

    Again, a wonderful poem. Hope the suggestions help. I’m sure that Luke will have more, and better.


    • Thank you so much, David. You’ve given me some good suggestions and I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke comes up with similar ones in light of the need to minimize the use of adjectives.


  25. jgavinallan says:

    because…a word filled with all the emotions of the world…good and bad…just like another powerful word…Why?


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