Showing 251 - 260 of 717 Poetry annotations

Dungenessque

Charach, Ron

Last Updated: Aug-17-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

This is the sixth collection of poems by Ron Charach, who is a psychiatrist in Toronto, Canada. [See annotations in this database on Past Wildflowers and Petrushkin!] Charach explores his interior landscape with insight, wit, and a prodigious ability to tell a good story. In this collection the poems hone in on the rough, crab-like appendages of mid-life--failed relationships, maturing children, and the existential confrontation with an "uncaffeinated life."

The book begins in the deep waters of outrage, "You are the last objective correlative / the great depression / at once receptive and forbidding . . . " ("Words with the Mariana Trench") Many of the book’s early poems deal with isolation and failure--"YOU NEVER FELT MY PAIN FOR TEN SECONDS." ("Squeezing the Barbarians")--the special angry detachment of love gone sour ("Could my charms have dried up so quickly?" in "Burn Ward.") Later in the book, the poet speaks of friendships ("Rocks and Ages"), life events ("Courtesy of Plastic"), and the larger social and cultural context of his life ("Appelfeld").

View full annotation

Death in the Evening

Holub, Miroslav

Last Updated: Aug-16-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

An old woman dies at home. After "the young ones had gone to bed," she arises and moves around the house, doing the usual things that defined her life--putting out the candles, mending a stocking, finding a lost glove--before she falls back into her coffin and is cremated in the morning.

View full annotation

Dance Fire Dance

Dorsett, Thomas

Last Updated: Aug-16-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

These poems push at the edge of the unknowable, as in "Credo," where Dorsett concludes, "Nearer those peaks / I understand nothing, something / in the far side." Unlike many poets of his generation, Dorsett confronts reality with hope, rather than despair. He does not, however, ignore the random pain and self-delusion of human life. In "Our Father Who Art," for example, he writes, "what are we left with? Fly swarmed swamps / where our puffed-up selves promise the bog not to eat beetles . . . . "

As a pediatrician, Dorsett must frequently confront unjust and random suffering. In the strong poem "Like Flies We Are . . . " Dorsett writes, "Who can doubt the world’s amoral? / And not only to great artists: / if the briefcase had been placed / inches closer, Hitler would have died; / Anne Frank, etc. would have survived."

This acceptance is, however, only a few poems deep. Dorsett realizes that human beings searching for meaning are like his two goldfish discussing "fish religion." We can never attain the truth about why the conditions in our tank are deteriorating. Facile New Age answers merely delude us: "Modern taste in resurrections / wants fast easters with no cross / . . . Selfjesus is coming! God help us." In the end, Dorsett opts for an ecstatic reality beyond faith and knowledge, a reality in which Christ’s resurrection and the Buddha’s enlightenment both reside.

View full annotation

Death by Aesthetics

Van Duyn, Mona

Last Updated: Aug-16-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A witty and wildly imaginative evocation of a female patient’s encounter with a male physician. The poem is full of the counterplay of eroticism and sterile technology, of the body as love object and object of diagnosis, of the doctor’s cool clinicality and the patient’s desperate neediness. To her, the doctor is an "abstracted lover" for whom she willingly lies down "while he unfolds / her disease . . . ." Orgasmically, "he warms / to his consummation" which is for him "a most enjoyable diagnosis." He is finished with her but she feels cheated--he hasn’t grasped her essence. "Don’t leave me! Learn me!" " . . . taste my living texture. / Sweat to hunt me with love, and burn with me."

View full annotation

The Death of the Hired Man

Frost, Robert

Last Updated: Aug-16-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In this domestic epic, a man and woman converse on the porch of their farmhouse. The man is just coming home in the evening; his wife meets him at the door to warn him that Silas, the old ne’r-do-well hired hand, had returned that day. She found him "huddled against the barn door, fast asleep, / A miserable sight, and frightening, too--"

Silas looked terribly ill, yet he didn’t ask for help. Instead, he told her he would cut the upper pasture, and he kept inquiring about the college boy he worked with on the farm a few years back. He and the boy argued all the time; now the old man wants to "make things right."

The husband shakes his head. No, he will not take Silas back. The old man walked away one too many times. You can’t depend on him to stay and finish the job when someone comes around offering him a little "pocket money" to go elsewhere. Indeed, Silas’s brother is the president of a bank; why doesn’t he go to his brother for help? At last the husband quiets down and goes in to see the old man, who is presumably asleep beside the stove. A few moments later, he returns to the porch. To his wife’s query, "’Dead,’ was all he answered." [175 lines]

View full annotation

Annotated by:
Henderson, Schuyler

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Published in 1734, this poem of 7-syllable couplets describes how Peter goes to visit his college friend Cassinus. He finds Cassinus filthy and miserable in his dorm room and asks his friend why he is such a mess. Cassinus replies that he is in this state because of Celia. Peter wonders if Celia has died; if she has cheated on Cassinus; if she has been struck down by some disfiguring disease; or, ultimately, if there is something terribly wrong with Cassinus. No, replies Cassinus, to each of these in turn. He makes Peter promise not to divulge the terrible secret he has discovered about his once beloved Celia, and then tells him: "Nor wonder how I lost my wits; / Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits."

View full annotation

Search for Oz

Bronson, Richard

Last Updated: Jul-26-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

This is a collection of 61 poems by physician-poet Richard Bronson. The first and largest section contains many poems related to the poet's medical life and experience, including several that arose from his formative and bittersweet years at New York's Bellevue Hospital ("A Bellevue Story," "I Shall Be Your Vasari," and "Pain"). Others re-imagine events in the history of medicine ("The Knowledge," "Plague Doctor," and "The Man Who Dissected His Wife's Brain")

The second section, "Ten Portents of the Future," contains poems that examine the symptoms and signs of contemporary malaise, but find the diagnosis uncertain and the prognosis . . . who knows? It appears grim, though: "I am a lame man / gone to seed / at the terminus of an age." ("After the Big Bang," p. 94) In his last suite of poems, "Six Aspects of Love," written to his wife, Bronson reveals his strong, but purely personal, antidote for the cruelty of our "barbarous times."

View full annotation

Totally

Hoagland, Tony

Last Updated: Jul-10-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This is a poem that celebrates the divided self and disconnection. The speaker wonders whether his tendency to be scattered--to not "find out till tomorrow / what you felt today"--is natural, is in fact, "what makes our species great." Is this "dividedness" what allowed "surgeon Keats to find a perfect rhyme / wrist-deep in the disorder / of an open abdomen"? The poem ends with another kind of disconnectedness: a deliberate separation of self from "the whole world in unison" that is preparing itself for the onset of winter: "I have this strange conviction / that I am going to be born."

View full annotation

Abstinence

Cecil, Richard

Last Updated: Jun-28-2006
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poem describes how drinking skewed the speaker’s perspective on life (blurring night and day distinctions, etc.) and isolated him from others. The poem goes on to illuminate the speaker’s recovery, the result not of an Alcoholics Anonymous-type "higher power" but of the speaker’s own dark epiphany: "I recognized the night as night and chose it."

View full annotation

An Abortion

O'Hara, Frank

Last Updated: Jun-15-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator is both sympathetic observer and harsh judge, evoking the conflicting emotions, and human and ethical considerations surrounding the abortion of a fetus. The choice and juxtaposition of words is powerful and shocking: "more monster than murdered . . . autumn in our terrible breath."

View full annotation