Showing 521 - 530 of 717 Poetry annotations

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: Poem

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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Sixth Grade

Howe, Marie

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This narrative poem relates the speaker's memory of neighborhood boys tying her and a friend "spread-eagled" to a garage door and teasing them in a way that borders on being sexually threatening. The speaker tried (and eventually succeeded) in convincing the boys to let her and her friend go. The poem subtly explores the shifting relations between girls and boys--and between girls and themselves--on the border of childhood and adulthood, focusing on the tensions of girls moving from seeming sexlessness to sexuality and womanhood, and the prices that might entail.

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The Last Time

Howe, Marie

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This brief poem describes a revelatory conversation the speaker has with her dying brother "The last time we had dinner together in a restaurant . . . ." Her brother takes her hands into his, and asks if she really understands that he will die soon. The speaker assures him that she does, hinting at an inner acceptance the brother questions. He then turns the tables on her (and on the reader) by suggesting that what she really needs to accept is that she herself will die someday--and that until she understands this, she cannot really comprehend the reality of his dying.

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Six Days

DeMaine, Mary

Last Updated: Oct-08-1998
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poem is divided into six stanzas, each titled by a successive day. The subject of the poem is a woman's reaction to mammography and the unexpected "spot" that is discovered. The woman is shown the spot on the mammogram, and the agony begins: does she have breast cancer? The exam occurs on Thursday; she must wait until the following Tuesday to find out.

Meanwhile, life and relationships take on new meanings and tenderness. For instance, at a large family reunion, she is determined to laugh with the family about childhood reminiscences, even though her laughter is now bittersweet (she keeps her torment private from all but her lover).

Other days are filled with worry and nightmare. At long last, during a perfunctory call from her physician, she finds out that the spot is merely a protein deposit. Relieved, she thanks the physician, who remains uninformed of the depth of her patient's recent torment.

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