Archive for the ‘Zach’ Category

John Kimbrell’s “The Gulf”

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

On the fourth birthday of your afterlife

I rent a house that might as well be in

the ocean. Two circumspect pelicans

drift across my watery yard. And if

I get a yen for fish, I can cast my line

right off the front deck. And look! There’s a skiff

piloted by Senior Hemmingway himself.

But that’s not true. This is not an island

of ghosts. I don’t even think there’s

a graveyard near. There’s a little road,

and a tackle shop, and a general store,

and then the gulf, which I can almost see from here…

Which is to say I miss those grand

versions of any circumstance that you

found too minor, too cheerless or bland

to report sans fiction, choice residue

of a blatant lie, your one-woman band

marching in some exaggerated aspect of negligible truth.

Therefore, the sand is not off-brown, it’s white

as Siberian snow. The stretch between it

and this house is not a fetid swamp but

a “mosquito preserve.” And this is no

ersatz island lullaby composed of woe,

but a testament to you whereby

a few clouds drift accross a cloudless sky.

Kimbrell dedicates this piece to his mother, and I think knowing that adds an interesting element to this poem. I was initially drawn in by the first line “On the fourth birthday of your afterlife.” Right away the poem starts on a contradiction. We usually think of birthdays as joyous occaisions, and yet Kimbrell situates a birthday on the same line as the afterlife, something that’s usually approached with solemnity, if not outright grief. This theme of contradiction settles in for the remainder of the poem as the speaker struggles to balance the celebration of his mother’s tendancy to exagerate and his own ties to the truth. The language in this particular piece isn’t mindblowing by any measure, but the extent to which the speaker reveals his relationship with his mother is what made me consider this piece.

Triggering Town: The Admiral

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

I know this wasn’t part of the assigned reading just yet (to be honest I haven’t finished the assigned reading), but while flipping through the book the last chapter caught my eye and I ended up reading the section about the Admiral. What really grabbed my attention wasn’t Hugo’s poem, but rather the story of the driver who took the Admiral, his wife, and his meager posessions to Monroe Valley on page 108. This scene stuck with me for hours after I read it. You’ve got a man trapped in a lie, but so proud and unwilling to admit it that he has this driver run back and forth accross a county in the middle of the night. I guess everyone has been around someone like that at some point. Everyone knows the embarassment you feel for the person as they fumble to find something to vindicate themselves. You want to blame the driver when he finally gives up and kicks the Admiral and his wife out on the side of the road in the dark, but the worst part is I know I would probably do the same.