By Troy Patterson
Updated March 17, 2020 at 03:03 AM EDT

Tears for Water

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In Tears for Water singer-songwriter Alicia Keys writes verse that’s not as hilariously bad as that of fellow VH1 chanteuse Jewel; still, her work would not pass muster in an introductory writing course at a four-year college. She’s roughly on the level of Maya Angelou. Thus, the patient reader winces mildly at flat laments about alienation (”Sometimes I feel/like I don’t belong anywhere”) and emotional reticence (”I’m a prisoner/Of words unsaid/Just lonely feelings/Locked away in my head” ) — poems sometimes followed by Keys’ own explanations of their ”meanings.” Serviceable metric patterns are as scarce as vivid images, or signs of shame.

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Tears for Water

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