Poetry #4: Monica Gallagher

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A collection of fire:
brought to you by life



A dusky hue,
thinking of you,
not as slate as blue.

Wishing for stars,
to hide my scars,
i've never left you.

Fox curled in faux fur,
the smell of dirty hair.
Too warm, still cold here,
not that you'd care.

Burn seeping up my throat,
sweat pores sing.
Dusty eyes closed clean, in
a dull daydream.


The song that never ends
Nursing it
weaning it
drawing it back.

Stopping it
letting it
welcoming slack.

Crowning it
loving it
drop to my knees.

Bury it
need it
 give it to me please.

Heart afire,
crumbling down. Like
falling pillars of ash . . .
insides raw, acidic,
Vibrant in trouble . . .


All my clothes unwashed,
now they are clean.

I never want a thing from you.
whenever you choose to ring.

So stop,
Go back,
and forth now,

let me rise above.

I can voice now,
can only come from heaven

my love.

Never Give Up^
until I am nothing.

until I am some thing.

Creating chaos,
let love,
leave light.

Remain in focus,
give god,
take fight.
I hear the stomps of footsteps,
am hoping it's not you,
the beat is rumbling hard now.
A single drop of dew,
never lands upon it's leaf,
a face with many veins.

A canvas stare beyond now,
the gallery remains.

Morning Clean
The brush of good
foaming at the mouth,
racing thought
constantly in doubt.
Sting of ache
deep below my button,

come never
come near

forever, lowly,

Stormy Seas~
Solace finds me
a dock to the shore,
let it rain me,
comfort me more.

A façade of sleep,
in wicked ships . . .

Waves wrecking silence,
a storm for the wick.

For once, it was told
a sailor did try,
to live out of lorn,
in the way that he died.
Awaiting Rest*

Pings of deep current,
a lateral edge sting,

shocking the system,
making a mess of everything.

Core blood, flow . . .
leaving shaky tip

Face numb
in block
to reveal so much
regret if not just____ yet______________________________ still,

You may be,
you may might,
just this once . . .

sleep with my soul,
one last time tonight.

.me because of you.
Hold it back
don't want to
it's consuming
eating away all
i ever knew
Because of you . . .

14 thoughts on “Poetry #4: Monica Gallagher

  1. Andrew Lange


    I found your work fairly easy to read and navigate, and even without a lengthy introductory statement I can sort of guess what the subject matter is; I presume it deals with loss and the grief process? It almost seems to be a common thing to write about; yours is not the first piece I have read and workshopped today which deals with this topic.

    One question I do have about your work is the use of various punctuation marks in some of your titles. For instance, “Never give up^”. Is this intentional or is it simply a small error? If it’s intentional I can definitely see where it might add a lot of meaning that might not otherwise be there. Similarly in “Stormy Seas~” is the ~ intentionally being used to denote something like waves? If it is, I can definitely see where it adds a lot of extra meaning which wouldn’t otherwise be there. This also occurs with your use of features such as “just_________yet_____________”; I assume the latter is definitely intentional?

    Your rhyming schedule fits well, such as “wishing for stars/to hide my scars” and your use of alliteration, including “fox curled in faux fur/the smell of dirty hair” bring extra imagery to the poem; while these may initially simply be words on a page, they come alive with additional meaning which wouldn’t otherwise be there.

    I also like how you use other devices to explain and embody the feelings associated with your experiences, such as your line “the song that never ends”; I assume this is describing how the grief process can take an extremely long time to run its course? As someone who has experienced a fair amount of loss myself I find it relatable; writing can convey some deep meanings, especially upon multiple readings.

    Reading your pieces, I am guessing that much of your work deals with the failure of an intimate relationship. Lines such as “I never want a thing from you/whatever you choose to ring” exemplify typical feelings during the immediate aftermath of a breakup.

    Your piece about “never giving up” especially shows how strength is always needed to overcome the emotional trauma associated with any kind of a loss. Sometimes you have to tell yourself to be emotionally strong, as exemplified in your piece here. Your word choice evokes a sense of personal autonomy, which shows you are passionate about the topic matter here; I appreciate the thought and creativity put into your writing.

    My only questions concern the use of punctuation symbols in some places, but I am assuming they are intentionally used to carry extra meaning and are not merely typographical errors. Overall, I don’t have much else to add. Good job!

  2. Sierra Russell-McCollum


    I found your poems were quite easy to read through. I like how simple they are yet the story you’re telling stands out. In the introduction, you don’t really state what the theme is, but I’m getting the feeling it’s about loss and grief. I may be wrong but this is how I understood it. But I like how you kind of leave it up for the reader to decide for themselves. It will definitely make them think harder while reading your work.

    In your first poem “Slate” I found myself totally engulfed in it. I love the way you rhyme the sentences together and how short they are. When I was reading it I found myself reading it quickly because of the way everything went together. It was so smooth. My favorite line would have to be “Bury it need it give it to me please.” I feel the contradiction in this simple sentence. You want to get rid of it yet you need it and want it so badly. This really stood out to me while reading because of the way it was structured. The style was a huge hit for me.

    Your second poem “Faith” was also a hit for me. I liked how short it was and there is so much room for question. Like, who is this written for? What is the message? Is it about you and God? I love reading poems and thinking these questions because it makes me want more and your poem did exactly that. Even though it was short and simple it definitely left its print.

    In your third poem “Never Give Up^” in a way had me questioning the meaning a lot after reading this. Which isn’t bad. I feel like this could be about someone who has hurt you or someone you love but don’t want. I love that this poem made me think about it so much. I especially loved the beginning it really set the mood for the rest of it.Your next poem “Morning Clean” I also really liked. You have a way of making short and simple poems sound so good. Everything is so smooth and yet again I am full of questions and want to read more.

    Your Last two poems “Stormy Seas~” and “.me before you.” were a great way to end your poetry pack. But first I have to say that I love the titles, I haven’t seen anything like them so far in this workshop. So kudos to you for thinking outside of the box. And the way you wrote them was very unique I thought. You have a way with words and sometimes it’s truly magical.

    Overall I really enjoyed your work. I loved how you made sure to add a variety of different lengths into your poetry pack. It was definitely a nice variety. I loved the rhymes you used and especially the technique. Definitely something I haven’t seen before and it was really fun to read!

    1. Naimy Schommer

      Yes! The creative titles! I forgot to mention that in my critique but they are fantastic!

  3. Aundrea Pierce

    Hey Monica,

    Your collection was effortless to follow (which is fantastic) and had a nice rhythm and tempo. Even though some were a bit long in length, it so much easier for me to follow when there are not too many words in each line. “Slate” was intriguing! I couldn’t interpret the meaning or symbolism behind some of the stanzas, but I loved how the words swayed together. “Fox curled in faux fur” this line stood out to me, I just like the way it sounds. I also like how you structured the middle of your poem with “Not.Now.Tim”. It works because it feels like you’re trying to wake up! The spacing and periods help to give the reader a sense of struggle. The first word in the last stanza has a + symbol. Is this a cross?

    I love reading anything about God and faith, so I especially enjoyed your piece “Faith.” The opening with the clothes was a good choice and gives the reader a sense of renewal. I also like the spacing and structure on this one too. It’s very precise and clear.
    “Never Give Up” was a little difficult for me to untangle (I’m not good at dissecting poems!). I felt like this was a battle of emotions between bravery and fear. The lines flip-flop like “Creating chaos, let love, leave light.” But maybe that’s what you’re trying to portray. I smiled when I read “never land upon it’s leaf, a face with many veins.” That’s a pretty compelling description; I love it! I guarantee I’m going to think of a veiny face the next time I examine a leaf.

    “Morning clean” was short and sweet and left a hint of mystery. I like the feeling I got when I read “The brush of good, foaming at the mouth,” You have a talent with words. I really want to know more! What’s the ache coming from!? You got me curious in this piece.
    I don’t know why, but I love storms, and I love watching movies about storms at sea. “Stormy Seas” was also a nice read, you’re a much much better poet than I. What did you mean by “let it rain me,”? I wasn’t sure if that’s what you meant or if you meant “let it rain on me.” Each one of your pieces had this golden stanza that just pops for me, in this one, it’s “Pings of deep current, a lateral edge sting.” Again, I love the description of emotion, and was left wanting to know more!

    “.me because of you” was another nice, short, and sweet one. I’m left eager to know what consumed you!? You got me again. Overall I really enjoyed reading your collection. You have a natural talent with words, and I don’t have much to criticize (mostly because I’m terrible at poetry), but I know enough to say you’re talented. I’d love to see what you can do with more lengthy poems; maybe you can change my distaste for them!

  4. Michelle Cordova


    Your collection of poems are truly the most intriguing of all the workshops I’ve done thus far, and that is a good thing! Your short introduction coupled with the poems themselves made me feel as if you were describing heartache through different stages, although I could be way off. Either way, I found all 5 poems interesting and well written!

    “Slate” gave me the impression that you were describing the end of a relationship, or maybe even the difficulty these two people found in ending the relationship as if they knew they were wrong for each other but couldn’t quite let each other go. The lines “too warm, still cold here/not that you care” and “bury it/need it/ give it to me please” make me feel like he was the one to end it, but kept pulling her back in. Very mysterious, but in a good way!

    “Faith” gave me the same impression as the first poem, except I also got the feeling that the girl had finally had enough of the games he was playing or maybe even experienced a greater loss, death, as you referenced heaven and expressed “let me rise above.” Forgive me if I’m way off!

    I felt that your third poem was about gaining a sense of strength back and being okay with the relationships end. Although it was relatively short in length, the words had great flow and left me wanting to hear more, much like your fourth poem.

    The last poem in your poetry pack was my favorite of the 5. I love the word play here and enjoyed the length as it the other poems were a little shorter. I do question some of the punctuation, but wonder if it was done on purpose? Such as, the use of Stormy Seas~, Awaiting Rest*, just___yet_________still, and .me because of you. However, I do understand the dramatics that punctuation can add to a poem, or any type of writing for that matter, and found these things to add a little extra depth to this piece.

    Overall, I think you did a fantastic job with this assignment and believe your words to be heartfelt. I can’t help but wonder what your motivation is for this writing, but I also appreciate that you left it to be interpreted as we see fit, as most poetry does. Your use of rhymes are perfectly placed, and you were able to add such vivid images in such short sentences. I felt that everything had good flow, and really enjoyed the opportunity to read your work!

  5. Katherine Whelchel

    Hey Monica!

    I really really loved your collection of poems! They were more abstract than other I have read, and I really appreciated that. I personally love abstract poems; ones that you can get a feel for, but will never truly know if what you perceive is the true meaning behind the piece. There is a very intimate touch in each word. I feel that you have let me into a special place. Though your structure and wording were abstract, there was still a good flow and this led to it being easy to read. I feel like I deeply relate to your style of poetry.

    “Slate” was full of depth and hidden motives. I have to say that I will need to re-read it multiple times to gain a grasp on your meaning, but I like that! I am particularly fond of the section about the song that never ends and all the things you do with it. The repetitiveness of the descriptions was very refreshing, especially because it was mixed in with the rest of the poem. I may be wrong, but there didn’t seem to be a common pattern you followed for each stanza. This gave the piece an organic flow that I felt fit well.

    “Faith” was my favorite poem out of all of them. Not only was it delicate and pure, I had a deep sense of understanding as I read it. “All my clothes unwashed,
    now they are clean.” What a clear picture of forgiveness! You have chosen internal motivations to be the pictures in your poems and I am delighted to read the product of these motivations. One small thing, I was confused by some of the symbols used in the poem stormy seas. I was not sure if they held meaning or if they were typos.

    Your collection is beautiful though, and I really enjoyed the abstract feel of them! Well done 🙂

  6. Aubri Stogsdill

    Hi Monica,

    Now I must say that I think the depth of your first poem has surpassed my understanding of it. While your poems were pleasurable to read, my unpoetic mind struggles a bit to understand and follow your poems. I’d like to know and understand what is behind ‘Slate’.

    Faith was lovely, and so clearly makes me think of my personal relationship with God. I like that you started talking about your dirty laundry. As a believer in Jesus, it is so true that we come to God was such dirtiness, yet he pursues us with a love that is persistent in spite of our lack of desire for him. (Sorry if I’ve totally misread your poem!) Anyways, I enjoyed this one tremendously.

    ‘Never Give Up’ has a bright and yet frightening tone to it, particularly towards the end. There is a lot of fear in the lines that talk about footsteps and hoping the owner of those steps is not a specific person. I left wanting to understand why you were afraid of this person.

    If I’m being totally honest, ‘Morning Clean’ was really confusing to me! (Again, I do not have a poetic brain!)

    While some of your poems confused me, I still enjoyed reading them! Great job! (:

  7. Naimy Schommer


    This poem is full of beautiful, abstract imagery that evokes emotion, but there’s nothing concrete to tie it to. I’m not exactly sure what the emotions and imagery are describing. All I am left with as a reader are feelings that aren’t backed by concrete images. I think this is beautiful and moving, but I’m not sure why. I thought I had an idea until “Not./Now./Tim.” and then I wasn’t sure. I’d try and incorporate less-abstract imagery to let your reader know what they’re feeling these feelings about.

    This simplistic language is alluring! I love how you’ve married abstract and concrete images in this poem! AH! I think this is my favorite.

    Never Give Up
    Again, I think you’re running into issues with tying abstract descriptions to concrete images your reader can give meaning to. The first three stanzas are wonderful. I love the idea of “Stronger,/until I am nothing./Weaker,/until I am some thing.” I like the back and forth, give and take aspect of that. The balancing act of becoming yourself. Powerful stuff.

    Morning Clean
    I’m not sure that “smutton” is a word. It’s totally fine to make up words to fit your purpose in poetry (heck I did it twice in my collection), but in this instance, the reader is given no clues to what it could contextually mean. I think that in order for it to serve your purpose of being the isolated, hard-hitting, last word of the poem, it needs to be defined, if only loosely. I love the “Sting of ache/deep below my button,” UGH THAT’S AWESOME. I love how you just omitted “belly” from “belly button” to fit the flow. That is so creative.

    Stormy Seas
    Again, I think these beautiful listed descriptions need something more concrete to support the poem’s meaning. I like the use of the underscore in the eighth stanza, forcing the reader to slow their tempo. Also, the staggered stanzas of varying length give a visual example of waves furthering your collective image. That is a nice physical touch to the poem.

    .me because of you.
    same general critique–I think it needs more concrete images.

    Overall, I love the use of common language to shape beautiful imagery and the creative use of punctuation. I just think its hard for a third party reader to fully understand your meanings entwined in your abstract imagery without a few more anchoring images. Keep writing! You have a lovely talent for beautiful phrasing!

  8. Cassidy Kramer

    Hello Monica!
    I really liked your first poem “Slate”. The poem has a nice ring throughout the whole thing. I like how you leave a lot of room for the reader to think. However, it might be too much room for a reader like me. It didn’t take until about the third time of reading your collection for me to see the deep meanings of your piece and the thoughts you are portraying. It was confusing for me why you put the random pieces of punctuation in your collection, but after I got passed the stage of confusion, I noticed that they brought attention to my eyes and made the different poems attractive.
    Your next poem “Faith” was also interesting. Although, I did not really understand what you were talking about after the fourth line. However, that is just me. A poem virgin who finds it difficult to find the deeper meanings in short poetry. All in all, your poem “Faith” is nice and simple, and I like how you let “Let me rise above” stand alone.
    The next poem “Never Give Up” was music to my ears. I really enjoy how it rings nicely and flows with a sort of tune to it. I thought the first four lines were very moving to me. Now that I am thinking about it, all the lines are very moving to me. They all have a deeper meaning to them, and the tune and rhyme you allow in it is very pleasing to me and is a cherry on top. Great job with this poem! It is easily my favorite so far.
    I thought “Morning Clean” was nice. How you described brushing your teeth. Honestly, all I could think about with this poem is how much I hate brushing my teeth, but I know I need to do it causing a lazy ache in myself. I am guessing that it is not what you meant, but hey, some poems that can have different meanings to each reader are sometimes the best ones.
    I also liked the “Stormy Seas” poem, although I did not understand what it clearly meant. I was just able to picture a ship in stormy waters which I am sure is okay. I liked that I was only able to picture the storm and not a deeper meaning because of the “room” you leave.
    The last poem “.me because of you” was very short and sweet compared to the previous long poems. Again, there is a lot of room left of thought, and for this poem I do not think that it was a very good idea.
    In conclusion, I liked all your poems very much. I liked the room of thought in some, but in others it was hard for me to even think of anything to stand for it. You are a great poet, good job in this assignment!

  9. Mekayla

    “Slate”- I lovvveeed the rhythm of this poem! It flowed so nicely and had me thinking, “Wow, this is great.” I’m not super sure what it means, though. I loved how beautiful and abstract a lot of the imagery was, but I kept getting lost looking for any indication of carried meaning through each stanza. I did feel the fire, but was I supposed to see anything more?
    “Faith”- I wasn’t sure what the purpose of your two first lines was, but after a couple of reads, I thought maybe you were cleansing yourself of a person or a relationship? If that’s the case, I love the metaphor.
    Your talent for writing is really apparent from this collection, but all of these poems seem like inside recollections, and I feel like more information would be needed to really get them past a few obvious analogies, meanings, and the aesthetic appeal of them.
    I think that your work is really powerful and beautiful, and your sense of rhythm is amazing. Keep up the great work! I hope to see more of your work in the future.

  10. Corbin Knapp

    I have enjoyed reading through your poetry collection, and one thing that I especially liked about them was how much power you fit into a shorter poem. That is really awesome! I have always liked shorter poems because they hold my attention easier, and they usually delve into really powerful word combinations and morals I thought it was really cool that you did the same thing with your poems.

    An example of a poem that really stood out to me for this reason is the poem, “Heartburn.” I enjoyed how you only used a couple of lines to bring the imagery of heartburn into mind. “A collection of fire: brought to you by life.” One thing I was confused about though is it a poem or is it the title of your collection? If you considered revising your piece maybe you could make it clearer that “Heartburn “ is either a title or poem. Either way I liked it.

    The poem “Slate” stood out to me because of your use of rhymes throughout your poem. Most of the other collections in the workshop don’t have rhymes in them, so your collection is a nice addition to the workshop reading. It was a little confusing, but I could get the general idea of your poem from reading it. The next poem “Faith” is a great example of a short poem containing a long subject. My favorite kind of poem is short but powerful and “Faith” is definitely one of those poems. “However, I can voice now, can only come from heaven my love.” This is a great line that is easy to understand and powerful as well. Nice job!

    I enjoyed the rest of the poems in your collection, but a I noticed a couple of errors. For instance the title “Never Give Up” also has an arrow in it. Is this intentional or is it just a mistake? I thought it was a great addition, so even if it was a mistake it would be cool if you keep it in the title. “Morning Clean” had almost no grammatical errors in it and flowed smoothly. The only thing I noticed with “Morning Clean” is your inclusion of the word smutton. Did you mean smitten, or did you just use a word of your own creation? (I am guilty of this myself!)

    “Stormy Seas” was enjoyable and brought up memories of my time near the sea. I noticed a couple of grammatical errors in it however. In the line “Let it rain me,” did you mean let it rain on me? It works either way.The spacing in one line was a little confusing for me because of the short blank and the long blank. I really did enjoy your poems, and the only reason that I am pointing out some grammatical errors is that I struggle with that in my own writing too. Thank you for sharing your poetry with us.

  11. Caitlyn Williams


    I liked the abstract introduction you had, it made me curious to read on. I liked the lengths of your lines, it made a flow that I liked reading with. Your first stanza gives me butterflies it’s so good. I love how clever it is written, and the verbs you used gave it speed. The last stanza confused me a little. It looked like it wasn’t supposed to be there. It stood out, but that shows expression.

    I loved your poem Never Give Up^. It was freeing. I felt as if I were on some mission, and the voice in this poem made me feel anticipation, especially the last line, what happens next? It left me with mystery. My favorite has to be your first oem Slate. I loved how the title was in the poem, and I love the content within the title.

    Stormy Seas left me feeling washed up, get it? It confused me, in parts, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Your last poem left me with a feeling of longing. I wanted to know what occured next. It felt a little rushed, but life is that way sometimes. Good work!

  12. Ben Knapp

    Your poetry, though a bit unclear at places, was enjoyable and interesting to read. You maintained a very good flow throughout your poetry, with one word moving smoothly to the next. The lines seemed to have a certain rhythm to them, and this helped the reader stay focused while reading your work. Altogether, your various elements added together to create some very nice poetry.

    Even with your rhythm and flow, there still were a couple of poems that had me a little confused. The main example of this is your poem “Slate.” The poem itself was, for the most part, very good. The aforementioned flow and rhythm kept it interesting, and there were some very cool parts, such as “the Fox curled in faux fur, the smell of dirty hair. Too warm, still cold here, not that you’d care.” I think these lines are some of the best in the poem, but I don’t really understand how they relate to the rest of the piece. Is the narrator a fox? If so, what justification is there for the title “Slate”? How do all the elements of the poem tie together? Although I did enjoy reading the poem, not being able to understand it did slightly diminish its effect.

    When I first saw your poem “Heartburn,” I thought my printer had made a bad copy. The line of dots on top looked like words that had been cut off! Now that I know that it was intentional, I think that it is a nice touch. The poem is short and sweet, and, despite not totally understanding it, I liked the series of dots at the beginning. It could represent a pause, or maybe words that have been deleted. Although I would have liked to see a little more to explain this, I understand why you have left it up to mystery.

    The poem “Stormy Seas” was also very good. I liked your rambling, cadenced style, and, despite not being focused on the sea, there is a definite sense of crashing waves in the poem. One part that I didn’t quite get was the line “regret if not just___yet____________________still,”. I’m not quite sure what this meant, whether you want the reader to fill in the blanks, or if certain words have been blanked out for dramatic effect. Although it does confuse me a little, I still think it is a nice effect. Just a little more context to help the reader understand what you were trying to say, and this line would be perfect.

    Overall, I enjoyed reading your poetry. There were places that I did find a bit difficult to understand, but that might have been your purpose. Just because I like understanding everything in a poem doesn’t mean that everyone will. Although I don’t really enjoy trying to find the deeper meaning to poetry, I do understand how some people might like more complex poetry. Perhaps this just means I need to read more poetry. I really did like your poems and I think that they are very good.

  13. Jessica Honebein

    Monica! I think that your title and little description was perfect! Especially for drawing me in and wanting me to read more of the collection that you had at hand. I find it amazing what life can inspire a person to write and I think you are spot on about it all.

    Slate- I love that the poem is easy to flow through and that it rhymed. I am not one hundred percent sure I am walking away with the message that you want me to. However poetry can be very interesting and like I have said before the author is really the only one that can explain the true meaning behind a poem. Although I take tension and a relationship as being inspiration for this poem. I am not entirely sure how the title “Slate” relates to the poem, maybe because you are pouring out what is on your slate.

    Faith- This poem also left me wonder, I am not entirely sure who or what it is supposed to be about. I do enjoy the simplicity of the poem and I found myself reading the poem over again to understand it even better.

    Never Give Up^- I honestly think that this was my favorite poem out of your collection to read. I think that all the struggle with emotions and change is something that I battle with as well. I think that in this poem you focused on the positivity in everything, instead of only looking at the downside of things. I think that this shows character and how strong you really can be when you need to be. I think that this poem just left me with a sense of self, it seemed like you were wanting to connect to something/ someone.

    Morning Clean- When I started reading this it honestly took me to brushing my teeth in the morning, a stomach ache, and sorrow. I have read it multiple times but i’m honestly still not sure on what you are trying to get across to the reader. I think that it is a short poem that could stand alone if only it had a little more description or maybe even just an abstract on what the poem is meant to be about.

    Stormy Seas- I think that it was interesting how you used aspects like “______” and “*” to catch the attention of the reader. I had to read through this poem a couple times, and still do not think that I am walking away with the actual meaning you were trying to get across. Although I still enjoyed this poem.

    .me because of you. – I think that this one is my favorite out of all the ones you wrote. It is extremely simple and easy to read. However, it still has a strong meaning and background behind it. I think that all of the poems flowed nicely into this one to help leave the reader with a sense of completion. On top of that I feel like this one is the most relatable to me as well.

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