Showing 221 - 230 of 720 Poetry annotations

Isolation Ward

Foerster, Richard

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator carries hothouse orchids as a gift to a friend in the hospital. When he gets there, he feels out of place, not having expected "barricades / against infection, the doors’ / pneumatic psshh . . . . " He regrets that his gift flowers are tame, when "the room / cried out for wildness." The place is sleek, efficient, and antiseptic. His friend--who is not described in the poem--"would never rise / from the motored bed." Who could blame the narrator for looking away? Or for wishing that he could have brought a gift of wilder, more glorious flowers? (40 lines).

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Annotated by:
Woodcock, John

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

An epigraph preceding this 28-line poem, apparently from notes by the physician-writer’s physician-father, sets the action of the poem in Wales in 1938. In the operating room, the surgeon attempts to locate the brain tumor of a patient who was under only local anesthesia because of his blood pressure. In those days in that place, finding the tumor was a "somewhat hit and miss" procedure that seems to have involved looking for it with one’s fingers.

A grotesque image, but all goes well until the patient, in a "gramophone" or "ventriloquist" voice not his own, cries out, "Leave my soul alone, leave my soul alone!" The doctor withdraws from the brain, but the patient then dies, after which the mood in the operating room is shocked and speechless, as "silence matched the silence under snow."

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Into the No Zone

Metcalf, Tim

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

Metcalf explores relationships between the worlds of science and experience in the three parts of this collection: devolve, involute, and evolutional. He makes it clear at the beginning: "the radiant truth is not alive / it is a sin to call consciousness dead" (10). At the same time, though, "Nobody needs YOU. Complete this form" (14). If consciousness devolves on matter, then the soul--where presumably consciousness used to live before it devolved--may be permitted to involute without consequence. "Yes, yes, / the dawn," our Bard writes, "it is beautiful. I try to miss it" (25). "Never mind who my parents were. / They dropped me off down here / on their way to somewhere else." ("Stork’s Kid," 41)

The final section, "Evolutional," suggests the direction in which our species might be moving: "Maybe I can live to one hundred and eight . . . by transplantation." ("Last to Go," 49) Perhaps the poet has already found his niche in this process, "It took me many years to find a market--niche / in speculative contemporary Australian social evolution . . . " (67) And yet, beneath all this (or above it), the poet comments, "I promised myself to speak in love only . . . You push me / for that poem I have not written yet." ("Our Poem," 43)

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The Autopsy Room

Carver, Raymond

Last Updated: Aug-28-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry — Secondary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator describes his experiences as an after-hours cleaning person in the autopsy room. The macabre nature of the work carried out there during the day by the medical professionals (who appear to take it for granted) is vividly impressed on the narrator when he comes upon "a pale and shapely leg." This evokes his own memories and feelings of sexuality. He is disturbed, no longer "has the strength of ten," and can’t involve himself with his wife when he goes home.

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Hippocrene

Fishbein, Julie Deane

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006
Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

An empathetic physician feels as if there were "no boundary" between him and his patient, until he "intrude[s]" by drawing blood. As the patient’s "sufferance rises" during the painful procedure, the physician feels that he is breaking the Hippocratic Oath by adding to the patient’s suffering.

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Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Anthology (Poems)

Summary:

This is a collection of poems written about breast cancer, many of the poems by women who have experienced the disease. A very full range of response to the disease is evident in these poems, from dry humor regarding prostheses; to fear and denial of the disease; to one’s often painful adjustment (along with family members) to a different body; to emotional transcendence of the experience of breast cancer.

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He/She

Dunn, Stephen

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

After an argument with his wife, Dunn’s narrator considers differences between his instinctive male response to differences, and reliance on words. She always "argues beyond winning," "skewering him into silence." Next day she has forgotten her words, while he remembers each one wondering "if recovering from them is possible."

As a boy in the schoolyard he learned to argue with his fists, while she and her girlfriends [were] "learning other lessons." He, like other boys/men, didn’t use and is unable to perceive that her words, however wrong, derive from "much hurt and love." So what’s going on here? He is silent, resentful, feeling a need to strike or punch. She, on the other hand says to excess what she feels, using words, the skills she learned as a girl.

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High School Senior

Olds, Sharon

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A mother reflects on the significance of her daughter’s anticipated departure for college. She compares how she felt before the birth of her daughter--unable to imagine what life would be like with her--and how she feels now, unable to imagine life without her. Since her birth, the child has been an essential part of the mother’s life, "like food or air . . . like a mother."

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The Hemophiliac's Motorcycle

Andrews, Tom

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

May the Lord Jesus Christ bless the hemophiliac’s motorcycle, the smell of knobby tires . . . This long-lined incantation of a poem takes the reader from the motorcycle raceway to the Kanawha River to the "oak tops on the high hills beyond the lawns" and, finally, to the hospital wards and the writer’s elderly roommate, who reads his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah speech. Isn’t it dangerous for the hemophiliac to ride in motorcycle races when even "a mundane backward plunge on an iced sidewalk" can bring him to the hospital bed and the "splendor of fibrinogen and cryoprecipitate"? Of course, but why not do so anyway!

This poem is a psalm, a paean of praise and gratitude to God--gratitude for oaks, and hills, and catbirds, and star clusters. "I want to hymn and abide by, splendor of tissue, splendor of cartilage and bone." The poet is also listening--listening for the presence of God in the silence: "may He bless our listening and our homely tongues."

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Butterfly Effect

Humes, Harry

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

These poems offer a rich series of impressions of the speaker's present life, surrounded by family, a garden, and pockets of natural life that evoke memory after memory of a childhood lived in relative poverty with a father whose years as a coal miner damaged his lungs and finally killed him. Allusions to his chronic and worsening illness and his death thread through the poems like a long shadow.

Recurrent images of his blood-stained handkerchief, his coal-smeared face and hands, are echoed in images of the death of an uncle, the deaths of animals, and of a mother strained by poverty and taking frugal measures to preserve small things. The final poem in the collection recalls her in old age, barely able to see, but still "stitching it all together."

The title poem, one of the best, pauses over the famous idea that the flutter of a butterfly's wings might be the source of large effects continents away. Together the collection invites us, without sentimentality, to consider how things are connected over time and come together in memory in compositions one couldn't have anticipated.

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