Showing 521 - 530 of 720 Poetry annotations

Visiting Hours Are Over

Bloch, Chana

Last Updated: Jan-26-1999
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This 22-line poem lacking any punctuation is a breathless narration of an urgent need to escape from the hospital environment. The narrator runs past the bodies "crumpled on every bed" and "the lead apron / of hospital drapes" to emerge outside into the rain. She is immensely relieved to experience the cold wetness of the rain and to feel the pavement against her feet as she runs to her car.

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Sojourn at Elmhurst

Lieberman, Michael

Last Updated: Jan-26-1999
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poems (Sequence)

Summary:

This book is a sequence of poems about Frank Goldin, a middle-aged biochemist who is admitted to a mental hospital, Elmhurst, with the chief complaint, "I hear a thousand voices and must respond to each." In the first poem Goldin confesses his sins, but simple confession doesn't get to the root of his dilemma, the existential ambiguity that plagues him.

During Goldin's dark night of the soul, his scientific self struggles with the mysterious longing within. Dr. Hudspeth, the Elmhurst psychiatrist, directs his support to the part of Goldin that says, "I am the restless biochemical cycle / that pours out glutathione in buckets." In essence, just straighten out the chemicals and you'll get better.

Throughout the book Goldin waits for his wife Helen to visit Elmhurst, but she never appears. He ruminates over the matter of confessing that he had an affair with a woman named Da-ling during a professional meeting in Osaka. If he confesses, if Helen comes, Goldin hopes that things will return to the way the way they used to be.

However, the mysterious side of Goldin is looking for something else. He has visions of the ancient Rabbi Yehuda of Smyrna, who asks, "Why do we not even know how to ask a question properly?" After several weeks Goldin leaves Elmhurst with the feeling that he has made progress, but not in any discernible direction. Goldin concludes that he should be grateful, but he asks, "to whom?"

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Barium

Kirchwey, Karl

Last Updated: Jan-26-1999
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This poem describes the ineffable experience of

having a barium enema to answer the question, "has time betrayed you yet?" While it is summer outside, inside the room "numbers flee across / banked screens." The narrator tries not to be there, but he is. Soon he will "pass a gallon, / more or less, of latex enamel, / as blooms of cramp go on and on." He sees the barium as it moves through the compartments of his large intestine, and he reflects that "life is so common"--but not his life.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This is a tight, short poem that takes its central metaphor from the uncredited quote, ". . . a madman attacked Michelangelo's Pietà with a hammer." The speaker is presumably a physician who, with a pathology report on his desk, contemplates the task before him. He likens himself, as bearer of grim news, to an avenging creature about to assault his patient, the Pietà, with a catalogue of cutting and pounding tools as images for the effect of such news on the recipient. The speaker also reflects on his own anger, the anger he feels about his patient's bad fortune, yet ". . . not wanting to judge / the cracked face of God."

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Anatomy Lesson

Coulehan, Jack

Last Updated: Jan-11-1999
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

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

Genre: Poetry

Summary:

Coulehan speaks to the cadaver (Ernest), beginning with factual observations about his damp face and beard. He then becomes confessional--in fact, by directly paraphrasing the traditional Catholic formula of confession ("Bless me, father, for I have sinned . . . "). He implores the cadaver to reveal himself, to yield the truth of his condition.

In the last stanza, the tears of conjunctival irritation (formaldehyde) become tears of sorrow "for all offenses / to the heart . . . " and "for the violence / of abomination . . . . " Cutting up a corpse is an "abomination," but one that must be accepted and transcended in order to gain the power to heal. In the end, the tears become life-giving rain on the canyon wall.

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Motorcycle Ward

Moolten, David

Last Updated: Jan-11-1999
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The speaker's high school classmate was "scraped out from under an eighteen-wheeler" after an accident while driving his Harley 650. Along with the other seniors, the speaker "paraded to say goodbye / On the trauma floor." One of the surgeons called the place "the motorcycle ward." They saw everything in the ward--the pain, the casts, the equipment--but the speaker also saw within himself "the closeness / To the dead that comes with fear, / A sleeping empathy."

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what the mirror said

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Jan-11-1999
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator is addressing her image in the mirror. "you . . . got a geography / of your own." The speaker takes pride in that body because it is not easily fathomed: "somebody need directions / to move around you." That body makes itself known. The concluding lines tell the "mister" who has presumed to handle that body that he "got his hands on / some / damn / body!"

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scar

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Jan-11-1999
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In 1994, Lucille Clifton was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. This short (12 line) poem, part of the sequence, "From the Cadaver" in this collection, describes an aspect of that experience. The mastectomy scar is an integral part of the narrator’s body, a physical presence that the poet addresses as if it were a person: "we will learn / to live together." At the same time, the scar marks a cataclysmic event in the poet’s life; it is the "edge of before and after." Finally, the scar speaks. " . . . i will not fall off."

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Open Workings

Bamforth, Iain

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

This is the third volume of poetry by Bamforth, a physician and scientific translator who practices in Strasbourg, France. Open Workings is precisely that--the poet opens various ideas, places, and events and shows us their inner workings. But we find that the workings are not what we expect.

Some of these poems (e.g. "Between the Rhins and the Machars," pp. 20-23) evoke Scottish folk tales and traditions. "The Fever Hospital" (p. 33) alludes to William Carlos Williams's famous poem "Spring and All," which begins, "By the road to the contagious hospital . . . " Several are set in a mining town in the Australian outback. In "A Clear Thought" (p. 39) Bamforth recalls the "scorched mesas / and camel-track droppings / of overland Australia" where he and his wife, "two transients, / (we) were crossing a language / bigger than its markers." The long sequence (30 poems) called "Doing Calls on the Old Portpatrick Road" provides a richly textured view of the life and interactions of a country doctor, one of whose patients asks, "Why do you call it failure now my heart breaks?" (p. 64)

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Medicine

Hoagland, Tony

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Like the train images in the last two stanzas, this poem is a train of thoughts about medicine, doctors, and patients' relationships to doctors, medicine and illness. The poem begins with the narrator's (presumably the poet's) Chinese doctor writing a prescription in Chinese. The poet begins daydreaming about the characters, and this leads to a soliloquy about daydreaming and illness and the slower pace of the ill, hanging "suspended in the wallpaper" of waiting rooms.

A recollection of the poet's "lady doctor" and his infatuation with her leads to a revelation of his desire to have illness and suffering, just to be with her. He philosophizes "suffering itself is medicine / and to endure enough will cure you / of anything." He decides he'd like to suffer like his mother, who seemed to not only accept, but also relish, the sick role of the weak, dependent state.

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