Analysis of “Here”

11-06-2015

Short poem, but it plays so well with opposites.  The first line, “it’s dark in the asylums dayroom” is a continuation of the title.  What’s so interesting about the line are two things.  First, there’s the opposite of exceptions and language– darkness in a day room, but also look at the space between the first line and the title: white space.  This white space seems like a darkness or a nothing which is a theme throughout this short poem.

“where the insane count me on their fingers’  I’m not sure what this lines mean.  It does add to the setting, and adds play to the ambiance.

“Though I still add up to nothing,”  Once again a play of language of expectations.  Now this is taken from the perspective of the insane to “here” — the current.  But what does here mean?

“Therapeutically speaking.”  That last jolt of a line makes it funny, but sad at the same time.  What if the white space and something is the breaking point of sanity.  Counting on something, but adding up to nothing.

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Analysis of “The Day After My Father’s Death”

11-02-2015

There’s multiple things at play here: expectation, form, narrative, perspective.  The speaker as a child, who is in an orphanage, is told that his father has died, is placed into an office to grieve.  The child reads comic books as more of a distraction but comes around back to the situation.  And even though the poem reads as a narrative of the moment, the end has a slight acknowledgement of the speaker now.

The opening line of the poem, “It’s too complex to explain,” might seem a bit on the nose, but for me, it’s a refreshing continuation of the title, “The Day After My Father’s Death.”   The opening line doesn’t try to romanticize feelings or hyperbolize the situation — the speaker automatically tells the audience, it’s complicated — maybe the death, maybe the feelings, but the following lines, “but I was already in / the orphanage when dad died; ” adds a complex situation to another complex situation.

The next lines adds to the narrative but there’s an interesting way of looking at grief as well:

and so that day when I cried,
to keep the other children safe
from my infectious grief
they left me in lockdown

There’s a sense of hyperbole at play here through the term “infectious grief” and “lockdown”; however, after reading the poem a couple of times, these terms don’t feel out of place.  “Infectious grief” adds more sense of tragedy to the scene since the context is at an orphanage — it’s like the orphans playing out the same scene over again of losing everything; furthermore, the idea of lockdown seems like a prison term, but it isn’t far-fetched.  The speaker is in lockdown to hold back the grief from spilling over.

And this poem takes a turn to the reserved with the switch onto reading the comic books, “which they had confiscated / from us kids through the year.”  And it seems to distract the speaker, “and on through wiped tears / I pored quickly knowing.”  Note how there isn’t any focus on what comcs were read or any of the plot.  The comics serve as a numbing device from the reality of the situation when, “this was a one-time thing– / this quarantine would soon end–” Part of me thinks that this poem hinges on the idea on “one-time thing.”  Not only with comic books, but also the situation — it’s a one time thing losing a father.

But then again, there’s the comparison of what’s worst — losing the comic books at the age of kid or

worse than that I knew
that if a day ever did come
when I could obtain them,
gee, I’d be too old to read
them then, I’d be like him, dad.

Now this could reference the comc books — being able to read them at an old age, but the last lines are complex and the idea of “too old.”  Yes, to old to read comic books, but also too old to die the same age as the father (which I assume the father died young) or to old to “read” and rather “understand” or “look deeper” into the moment.

Analysis of “Poem (How I Lost My Pen-Name)”

11-01-2015

This reads as a fable.  There’s exposition, something “magical,” a lesson learned.  There’s a sense of whimsy in the lines because the subject matter isn’t real no matter how real it wants to become.

The pen-name serves as another identity focused on writing.  However the focus is on writing the pen name:

I wrote under a pen-name
One day I shook the pen trying to make the name come out
But no it’s
Like me prefers clinging to the inner calypso

What stands out in stanza is how erratic the line lengths are for this exposition.  Where is the focus?  The short line stating no?  Could it be the long action line.”  At this point I feel the speaker is trying too hard to show how sporadic the exposition is through the line lengths, but, in doing so, separates identities — the focus is on this pen-name as an identity.

So when the speaker tosses the pen to his “pet” the wastebasket with intentions for the name to come back to him, the shock is shown in individual lines, “But no again” “It stayed down.”  Realize that the focus on it staying down means that the pen-name is thrown away.  That the name pen-name is truly gone.  However, the seriousness of this revelation is tempered with the earlier line of “Names aren’t fit / For unhuman consumption.”

What is left them — the unhuman person when the pen-name, the personified writer is gone:

I don’t use a pen-name anymore
I don’t use a pen anymore
I don’t write anymore

The repetition adds to the slow realization that the other is lost and what is left is thought — thinking — expression trapped in a receptacle, “I just sit looking at the wastebasket / With this alert intelligent look on my face.”

Analysis of “To X”

10-31-2015

The first four lines state the same thing, well, by definition.  What makes the first four lines of the poem interesting is how simply the tone changes through the repetition.  A build up of importance, or romance.  The anaphora of “Somewhere” brings a sense of searching — and what is the speaker searching throughj: “history,” “untold ages,” “the sands of time,” “the vast sea of eternity.”  It’s comic, but romantic.  It’s a speaker who is writing in fantastical hyperbole.

Love creates strange writings.

“There is one person / Only one.”  The repeating of the “only one” is the turn in the poem.  If this was another sappy love poem then the comparison would be more grandiose, the emotions amplified to the point of comic.  Here the attention turns to the tone of the speaker.

“Who could understand me and love me / And your’re it/ So get with it.”

The responsibility goes with the other who (according to the speaker) sees as someone who needs to get with it.  Take responsibility for the speaker.  There’s humor here of course — the abrupt turn at the end. But this poem, at the end, turns to the speaker’s view of love rather than a hyperbolic love poem of an unknown other — or maybe both.

Analysis of “Painting Vs. Poetry”

10-28-2015

The initial line already separates painting and poetry, “Painting is a person […]”.  The speaker adds human characteristics to the idea of painting.  Why is this important in the very beginning of a poem.  For all accounts, this poem is a compare and contrast poem where the definitions should be laid out in the beginning; furthermore, since this is a short poem (a sentence long) every type of image and comparison counts.

The placement of the person, “between the light and a / canvas so that their shadow is cast on the canvas” is not as important as, “then the person signs their name.”  What is not important is the process of art?  The placement, the play of light and shadow — the metaphor of an impression onto a canvas — none of these seem important.  Why?  Note how the signature at the end, the person signing his/her name seems important.  The last on the list to create art.  What I feel is described here is a visual representation of the self.

Versus what the speaker states about poetry:

[…] Whereas poetry
is the shadow writing its
name upon the person.

See how the idea of the signature is played around with again.  The shadow, which is a Jungian term if I’m not mistaken which influence Bly Kinnell, and many poets, is more of the forefront.  Here it is not the impression, but what the other half, the one hidden, writes.  There’s ideas of repression coming out here.  There’s ideas of the other coming out here.  But the main differences, a visual impression versus a shadow’s expression, is not a judgement holder (not to say one is better than the other) just an observation on an observation.

Interpretations of “PERFECTION”

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Throughout the past few months, I’ve found this poem misquoted as:

“Cueballs have invented insomnia as a way to forget eyelids”

That one-liner given a whole page to itself in “Nights of Naomi” (1971) eventually received the title “PERFECTION”; knowing this, doesn’t “as a way” seem too wishy-washy for its taste?

Though it may gutter bumper initial hubristic discomfort (“aww, uncertain of perfection, ok..”), such smooth-ease plausibility from our man of the hour is best met with a raised brow, a crinkled nose, though in this case, just an edit please!

. . .

As usual, Bill’s verse sticks to bigboy pants; no fluff-whim innocence without a little… well, I find there’s always a perfectly reasonable explanation for any too-voluptuous slant some may assume!

My attempts to:

*

“in an attempt”

wild-eyed desperation, a competitive frenzy

focus on the task at hand, else risk…

cueball / (don’t blame them, they’re innocent!)
neutral at heart, yet used to sink those motionless
at a distance / from a distance

waiting for the force of that imminent clack
(entirely dependent upon a prompter, no mind)
the shooter, the one with the stick (poet w/ pen?)

eyes white-wide, up all night (playing pool/writing poems)
(words/balls = who sinks who)
(who finds their end in that black net?(the text)
and the remaining/the survivors? let’s count..)

stark white page

dark black pocket

INANA TEMPT!

vs.

ass a way / ass away

(works, yet too vulgar to pair with submission and stay delicious)

inane aim of that cueball to keep the player(s) up all night
less time spent lumped in the rack with all the others,
anticipating all-hours ballsmack scattering

chalky tip’s friction co-efficient (…)

once those lids close, sleep ends the sport
if that cueball falls into darkness, SCRATCH (foul)

summoning someone else’s shot…

Ahh, forget about bed! Tend instead to “le Jeu suprême”! (Mallarmé)

*

“Let it alone; let’s to billiards: come,…”

-Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, Scene V

*

“I will drain him dry as hay:
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his pent-house lid;
He shall live a man forbid:
Weary se’nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
Look what I have.”

-First Witch, Macbeth, Act I, Scene III

*

“Un coup de des jamais n’abolira le hasard…”

*

I wouldn’t demonize the cueball! Though their perfect beauty (hueless, spherical!) begs suspicion of an inevitable narcissism (Hamlet primadonna!) which must prefer us converted, must insist we be just like them, don’t assume this and attack first! Relax! Never push sin on another, else face the worst! (How boring!)…(Stick to the safety of roomy verse!)

Besides…

What can that confused cueball even celebrate? It’s not the catalyst!

And obviously the attempt to forget eyelids was an utter failure!

Look. Still here! Waiting for more of us to see, to read forever.

Growing blacker.

*

“Nought’s had, all’s spent,
Where our desire is got without content:
‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.”

-Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, Act III, Scene II

/ / /

Analysis of “The Climb”

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Existential.  The voice of the speaker is the voice of a guide for the second person.  However, it’s not how the guide (the speaker) leads the you, it’s how the speaker recognizes the path as though going through it before.  The poem is written in a sort of in the Italian sonnet form (two quatrains and then two sestets).  Although there isn’t a clear “question/answer” routine going on there’s definitely a shift in perspective when the poem progresses from the quatrains to the sestets.

You’ll know you have reached the top,
the peak, the moment your bootsoles
go out of sight, since you can only
get there by following yourself up.

The visual absence stands out the strongest for me, but not visually.  The pun on “bootsoles” (soul) leads to the internal as the destination, “the top, / the peak” is the causes such absence.  However, how does one get to the top, “get there by following yourself up.”  So here’s the thing — bootsoles is the literal (in the sense that the object exists), but the metaphorical action of losing the sense of the pun (the sole) what is there?

Craning your neck to see that trail,
you’ll plummet past the hope to scale
any summit if you overtake a guide
whose shadow is you, whose spoor

What is left is the shadow.  I know I went a little too far ahead there, but so does the poem.  The speaker states the consequences of not following the guide — plummet past the “hope” (searching or conceptual).  With the first two stanzas, the trail is the focus and where it leads — “the top”; however the second stanza focuses on what to achieve with “you”

you are.  Know him as the truer you,
the perfected precursor emitted by
this act of aspiration alone, this try–

Note the usage of alliteration and assonance and alliteration not used as a humor device, rather a connective mirroring tissue.  The true you, is that the adjective or the noun — or does this depend on the time: perfect and aspiring, precursor and alone.  In either case, “truer” is the focus, but what “truer you” means doesn’t really matter.

stay in his tracks, obey the protocol
of all such quest-stakes, the miracle,
no tree-line mars, the height it takes.

It’s the tracks that matter and what changes the scenario back the “you” who has to obey through all the word play compound obstacles — quest-stakes, tree-line in order to understand the height.  Yes, the height.  The self means nothing, the top means nothing, but the obstacles and the height in which to pass and observe the obstacles need a guide.

 

 

Analysis of “By the River BAAB”

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A play on language like a babbling brook.  Not quite.  Add a little philosophical diatribe and you get this poem.  Written in cinquains the poem goes at great lengths to separate variables.

“We know that somewhere far north of here / the two rivers Ba and Ab converge to form / this greater stream that sustains us,”   Note the inclusion of “us” in the poem as though we are both knowing this situation, but I don’t know a Ba or Ab stream unless it’s metaphorical, and even then it’s kind of hazy.  The situation though is a bit clearer though.as “we’re” trying to figure out this stream that sustains us, “uniting / the lifeblood length of our lands, and we believe that the Ba’s source is heaven, the Ab’s hell”  is this based on the property of inversion?  There’s no other evidence that supports this except our “beliefs” — these are defining lines and a strong metaphorical one which plays throughout the poem.

“Daily expeditions embark upcountry to find / that fork to learn where the merge first occurs.”  We place ourselves in the eye of the explorer, and yes, the poem starts to become more narrative with lyrical lines.  The first line in this stanza seems more of a play with language (assonance, inclusion of adjectives and adverbs to create a different tone) and when we get to the verb, “find” we’re looking for something specific — the merge.  “Too far none of our explorers return. Or / Else when they reach that point they themselves / are torn apart by a sudden urge to choose–”  The choice option comes across the strongest here regardless of this mysterious narrative of going too far or not enough.  Here the poem has a separation between the explorers and us.  We know the consequences which is caused by finding the separation versus making a choice between the separation, but do we have to?

“to resolutely take either the Ba / the Ab, and trace / good or evil to its spring.  Each flips a coin / perhaps,”  So with this lines, we go back to the core (pun) of “heaven” and “Hell” — kind of like a Cain and Abel type of thing (based on sound, and perhaps biblical allusion).  Here the choice is not based on want but the curiosity of figuring out the core of “good” and “evil” meanwhile the repercussions of “good” and “evil” is a coin flip “or favors whichever one the wind’s blowing from at that moment.”

 

“Down here / even we who have not the heart to venture / anywhere that would force us to such deep, decisions,”  Note the alliteration at the end of here feels like a jab between the imagined river and the imagined choices — so deep.  But this is not the point — regardless on how the variables are stated above the specific action (image) draws everything back in:

[…]even we, when we hold that glass of 
water in our hands, drink it slowly, deliberately,
as if we could taste the two strains, could somehow
distinguish their twin flow through our veins.

The poem goes internal at this point, literally.  The core of this poem is trying to feel the conceptual physically.  Note the usage of simile and the repetition of “could” to put doubt in our ability to separate the concepts by mind and by body.  But we do try, don’t we?

Analysis of “Plunge”

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Plunge is an overcommited verb. A person can’t un-plunge there way back.  It seems one directional.  BUt this poem, five quatrains, seems to play with the idea of the tangible and intangible — what can be felt and what cannot be felt yet understood.

The title is part of the poem, “at night one drop of rain / falls from each star,”  so the poem opens up surreal, but then, “as if it were being lowered / on a string,” yes, I know the simile is used for a comparative sake, but there’s a sense of artifice, or at least awareness, that doesn’t make this scene natural, “and yet that storm of plummets / is never enough,” regardless of this knowledge the speaker continues to intertwine the metaphor and goes expansive with, “to wet any of the planets / that pass through it.”  We have the metaphorical with “storm of plummets” and something more tangible with, “wet any planets” but what does the focus on:

     only the blackness the space
between us is washed
away by these singular
lettings-down of water

This stanza seems like the turn towards one side or the other with the introduction of “us” but also note how the usage of blackness seems to go between intangible and tangible, and that by the introduction of “us” and “washed” there seems to be something more tangible.  Especially with washed being used twice in this poem, “distance is washed away.”  Distance, darkness wetness.

“all the worlds merge, / for a liquid moment / our island eyes,” I feel these three lines make the poem more personal towards the other.  This washing combines the worlds and what is left but the island eyes.  But what are island eyes?  A reference to “no man is an island” sense of togetherness in setting and self, or is it the opposite with desolation?   In either case, this is note explored as:

     and suddenly we understand
why umbrellas love
to dive
into clouds

The strong verb of “love” is there, but the focus is to dive, to plunge, to have this merge and/orunderstanding.  The anthropomorphizing of the umbrellas to want  to do this is parallel to the human want and sudden understanding.  Washed away, washed away.

Analysis of “[Untitled]” and “First Sight”

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“[Untitled]”

The poem is haiku-esque without being haiku.  We have the chain of images tied together, we got the short lines, but I find the trick here with this poem is how the lines operate. “The sweat on my forehead” is a clear indicator of subject, “shines brighter” is more based in perception and judgement call which then turns through the humor of “when it’s in my eyes.”  Physically, yes, the amplification of light comes from sweat in the eyes.

I think it’s me wanting more from the poem and being satisfied that this is the poem itself.  No further explanation needed.  A different point of view pointing out something innocuous.

“First Sight”

The poem is separated in two stanzas and is not an Italian sonnet.  So what does this poem rely on if not the form?  “Summer is entered through screendoors”  now this opening line could open the poem up to summer or what’s out there or something like that, but the poem examines, “and therefore seems unclear / at first sight, when it is in fact / a mesh of fine wires” a technicality, the poem focuses on the screen door.

Now why?  It is not physically Summer is encountered through the screen doors: the tactile heat or sounds — rather this perception is blocked by the “screen door” which is indeed a mesh of fine wires which makes it Summer more of a preview while in the safety of being indoors., “suspended panewise / whose haze has confused the eyes . . .” The admittance of the perception causing confusion between what is seen — the meshed summer (impression) or the awaiting summer.

“What if we never entered then–”  I noted that the rhetorical question doesn’t end with a question mark, rather a dash to set the importance of this moment and connect the next question, “what if the days remained like this, / a hesitation at the threshold of itself, / expectant, tense, tensile” It is here where the speaker wants this suspension of emotion of want to stay — the speaker and the other can not be disappointed or relieved in stasis.  And what is left is this drawn out expectation which feels more tangible, “as lines that crisscross each other / in a space forever latent” nothing is riled up, something stays the same.

“where we wait, pressed up against / something trying to retain its vagueness.” And in this vagueness at least the other is still there.