Showing 471 - 480 of 720 Poetry annotations

Nestus Gurley

Jarrell, Randall

Last Updated: Feb-07-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Twice a day without fail, at dawn and in late afternoon, Nestus Gurley delivers the newspapers. The boy is a given in the narrator's life, inevitable, an almost mythic presence. While in the real world Nestus is simply an energetic lad ("He has four routes and makes a hundred dollars"), in the world of the narrator's imagination, "He delivers to me the Morning Star, the Evening Star."

One morning the boy makes a paper hat that reminds the narrator "of our days and institutions, weaving / Baskets, being bathed, receiving / Electric shocks . . . " Throughout the poem the boy's steps tap an incomplete musical motif, a motif that needs only another note or two to become a tune. But what is the tune? And why is the tune so important? Even when in his grave on the morning of Judgment Day the narrator will recognize that step and say, "'It is Nestus Gurley.'" [81 lines]

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Woodcutting on Lost Mountain

Gallagher, Tess

Last Updated: Feb-07-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

An adult sister and brother chop wood on a mountain in Nevada three months after their father succumbed to lung cancer. They reminisce about their childhood--the cabins they built, Spam sandwiches they ate, their tough father. When the poet-daughter thinks of the whippings they received, she says, "They'd have put him in jail today. I used to beg / and run circles. You got it worse because you / never cried."

The man's daughter, Leslie (named after her grandfather), helps them carry and stow the chopped logs. They run into a group of childhood friends, now mostly loggers. "What'll you do next, after the trees are gone?" the poet asks. As they drive home, Leslie falls asleep in the truck.

This poem takes place in the world of grief, a world in which the past and present are intermixed and ordinary day-to-day events groan under the weight of deep meaning. Indeed, the scenes depicted here have double significance; the poet steps out of them like a Greek chorus and comments, "Tomorrow a log pile will collapse / on him and he will just get out alive." The scene of grief over the father's death is well fixed in her memory because it is so closely attached to her brother's imminent almost-death. [169 lines]

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The Unfortunates

Baer, William

Last Updated: Feb-07-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

This is a collection of portraits in verse of 40 "unfortunate" characters. In most cases using a 16 line sonnet-like form, William Baer creates stark, unsettling miniature narratives of men and women who live at the edge, where "normal" people (like you, dear reader?), when hearing their stories, will turn to their companions and exclaim, "Oh, how unfortunate!"

Take, for example, the "Prosecutor" who has lost faith in justice, or the dying woman in a "Hospital" who remembers the day her young lover walked away, or the flashy chic who get her kicks by making-it in a ditch beside an airport "Runway," or the wounded Newark thug in "Trauma Center" who elopes from the hospital as soon as he can stand.

Baer tells his unfortunates' stories in spare, transparent language, claiming no insight, no closure, no chance of redemption. Yet these poems dignify their sad subjects by insisting that we take them seriously, by crying out, "Attention must be paid!"

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First Death in Nova Scotia

Bishop, Elizabeth

Last Updated: Feb-07-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

We visualize Cousin Arthur's wake through a child's eyes. It is winter in Nova Scotia, the parlor is cold, and above the coffin are photographs of two royal couples, "Edward, Prince of Wales, / with Princess Alexandria, / and King George with Queen Mary." A stuffed loon sits on the marble topped table. The dead cousin "was all white, like a doll / that hadn't been painted yet."

The child's mother lifts her up to the coffin, so she can place a lily of the valley in the dead boy's hand. The two royal couples look like they are inviting Arthur to accompany them as "the smallest page at court, " but how can he go with them because the snow is so deep and his eyes are shut? [50 lines]

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poet looks through a one-way window into a room where a speech therapist is working with his father, who has had a stroke. The father doesn't seem to be doing well with re-learning language, until suddenly he begins to sing an old hymn, "Jesus loves me, this I know, / For the Bible tells me so . . . " [23 lines]

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Sperm Test

Freisinger, Randall

Last Updated: Feb-07-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator has entered a hospital lavatory, prepared to obtain his sperm sample. He can hear voices at the nursing station, the everyday comings and goings of patient care. He tries to focus on erotic images, but deadening thoughts of "four hundred million perfect / spermatozoa" keep invading his sanctuary. Waves of guilt lap listlessly around the room, as he tries with eventual success to produce the needed specimen. At this point he emerges triumphant, having convinced himself that "Like John Wayne, your gun is legend." [58 lines]

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to my last period

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Feb-01-2001
Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrative voice of this short poem familiarizes her period, giving it life affectionately as "girl," but a girl who never appeared without trouble, "splendid in your red dress." Yet even with the trouble (pain? unexpected appearances?), she now thinks differently as the "girl" begins to leave. The voice calls forth images of huddled grandmothers who, after the "hussy has gone," sit holding her picture, sighing, "wasn't she beautiful?" The poem expresses the ambivalence many women feel toward menstruation--the lived experience of pain, bloating, and inconvenience, contrasted with its earthy, rich, symbolic nature.

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poem to my uterus

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Feb-01-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In this simple 21 line poem, the writer speaks to her uterus, which has served her well throughout life, "patient / as a sock." Now, they want to cut it out. Where, the writer asks, where can I go without you? And "where can you go / without me"?

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Amazons

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Feb-01-2001
Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A 23-line poem written during the moments of waiting for the results and upon hearing the results ("i rose / and ran to the telephone / to hear / cancer early detection no / mastectomy not yet"), "Amazons" invokes images of the narrator's real and mythological ancestors and sisters ("women / warriors all / each cupping one hand around / her remaining breast") as she waits, and when she receives the news ("my sisters swooped in a circle dance / audre was with them").

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My Funeral

Hikmet, Nazim

Last Updated: Dec-27-2000
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

My Funeral is a touchingly funny and poignant salute to the beautiful ordinariness of life and a wish for it to go on that way. The speaker of the poem wonders what the scene will be as his body is removed from his apartment. "Maybe there will be sun knee-deep in the yard" or perhaps "a pigeon might drop something on my forehead: it's good luck" But regardless of circumstances, the speaker tells his neighbors: "In this yard I was happier than you'll ever know / Neighbors, I wish you all long lives." (p.239)

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