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“Forgive Me, Mother, for You Have Sinned”

Confessional mode. Like the first-person point of view in general, it is often welcomed by readers because they like to feel like confidantes. They also like to know that they are not the only ones.

The only ones what, you ask? It doesn’t much matter, I answer. The only ones with family trouble, marriage trouble, parenting trouble, love trouble, self-confidence trouble. There’s trouble in River City, all right, and the river flows under the good ship Readership.

For fraught poetry, you need go no further than Louise Glück, who takes a scientist’s eye (and even makes it part of this poem!) to her own life, then shares hard results with the poetry-reading world. Here, with “Brown Circle,” she overlays her own upbringing with the upbringing of her son.

 

Brown Circle
Louise Glück

My mother wants to know
why, if I hate
family so much,
I went ahead and
had one. I don’t
answer my mother.
What I hated
was being a child,
having no choice about
what people I loved.

I don’t love my son
the way I meant to love him.
I thought I’d be
the lover of orchids who finds
red trillium growing
in the pine shade, and doesn’t
touch it, doesn’t need
to possess it. What I am
is the scientist,
who comes to that flower
with a magnifying glass
and doesn’t leave, though
the sun burns a brown
circle of grass around
the flower. Which is
more or less the way
my mother loved me.

I must learn
to forgive my mother,
now that I am helpless
to spare my son.

 

It takes no small amount of bravery to write “I don’t love my son / the way I meant to love him.” People think those things but don’t say them.

Of course, we must realize that narrator and poet are not always the same voice. Thus, it is easier to express thoughts as a writer, knowing that you are impersonating a character of your own construction.

The other wonder is this: Is Mom alive reading poems like this? Some writers don’t worry so much about family reactions (see Karl Ove Knausgaard of My Struggle fame). Others would do well to.

Either way, though, there’s no denying the slight sensationalism offered by writing in the confessional mode, whether it’s a case of “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned” or “Forgive me, Father, for they have sinned….”

Readers like reading about sin. It distracts them from their own. It keeps their own company.

The Poem Outside Your Window

Occam’s Razor is a philosophical principle that even laymen like me can understand: When given competing theories, side with the simpler one until proven wrong.

At times, in an effort to be novel and upset the apple cart I featured in Ecclesiastes (where it intones, “There is nothing new under the sun”), poets get overly complicated with ideas, styles, and wordplay.

Egads, man. Just look out your window, why don’t you? Jane Kenyon, who had a bird feeder outside her New Hampshire window, did exactly that. The poem “At the Feeder” cuts clean and simple, each stanza a blend of description and simile for familiar birds: Chickadees, Evening Grosbeaks, Bluejays, Nuthatches, and Slate-Colored Juncos.

There’s even a first-stanza treat for poets: the nostalgia of getting replies from poetry journals via snail mail. (As Orwell would say: Such, such were the days!)

So instead of the all-too commercial line, “What’s in your wallet?”, let’s shift today to “What’s outside your window?” Chances are, it’s a poem in hiding. You know, like those old Highlights for Children drawings with hidden images. The ones you had to circle with a crayon or pencil while you waited for the dentist to scare the hell out of your mouth.

 

At the Feeder
Jane Kenyon

First the Chickadees take
their share, then fly
to the bittersweet vine,
where they crack open the seeds,
excited, like poets
opening the day’s mail.

And the Evening Grosbeaks—
those large and prosperous
finches—resemble skiers
with the latest equipment, bright
yellow goggles on their faces.

Now the Bluejay comes in
for a landing, like a SAC bomber
returning to Plattsburgh
after a day of patrolling the ozone.
Every teacup in the pantry rattles.

The solid and graceful bodies
of Nuthatches, perpetually
upside down, like Yogis…
and Slate-Colored Juncoes, feeding
on the ground, taking only
what falls to them.

The cats watch, one
from the lid of the breadbox,
another from the piano. A third
flexes its claws in sleep, dreaming
perhaps, of a chicken neck,
or of being worshiped as a god
at Bubastis, during
the XXIII dynasty.

 

 

Where Nocturnes & Aubades Meet

Notice how, as readers, we naturally take the unfamiliar and make it familiar? It’s hardwired, and one of the many reasons readers like to read.

Take nocturnes. I associate them with classical music, but according to Edward Hirsch’s A Poet’s Glossary, “The nocturne became a European musical type in the nineteenth century, a pensive, moody instrumental piece especially suitable for playing at night, and thereafter poetic nocturnes evoke the melancholy feelings or tonalities of piano nocturnes.”

So, yes, there’s a line to be drawn between classical music and poetry, but the nocturne as a poetic genre predates this angle, going all the way back to John Donne in 1633, when he wrote “A Nocturnal upon S. Lucy’s Day, being the shortest day.” (Great title, John.)

For a modern take on the genre that stands opposite to aubades (“a dawn song expressing the regret of parting lovers at daybreak,” according to Hirsch, Romeo, & Juliet… the famous law firm), let’s look at Irish poet Eavan Boland’s poem by that name. As you read, keep the noise down. It’s late!

 

Nocturne by Eavan Boland

After a friend has gone I like the feel of it:
The house at night. Everyone asleep.
The way it draws in like atmosphere or evening.

One-o-clock. A floral teapot and a raisin scone.
A tray waits to be taken down.
The landing light is off. The clock strikes. The cat

comes into his own, mysterious on the stairs,
a black ambivalence around the legs of button-back
chairs, an insinuation to be set beside

the red spoon and the salt-glazed cup,
the saucer with the thick spill of tea
which scalds off easily under the tap. Time

is a tick, a purr, a drop. The spider
on the dining-room window has fallen asleep
among complexities as I will once

the doors are bolted and the keys tested
and the switch turned up of the kitchen light
which made outside in the back garden

an electric room—a domestication
of closed daisies, an architecture
instant and improbable.

 

Here’s the thing: As a reader, I’m a horrible audience for this piece. I read it and think: “Ah. Nocturne as ode to late night. Written for night owls by a night owl.”

But as a reader, I have innate strategies that work without my even knowing it. The poem’s speaker likes the feel of “The house at night. Everyone asleep,” and I identify, even though I am reliably the first person asleep in my household and always have been, barring the years when my kids were very young.

Foreign as the concept of the nocturne is, however, my inner reader flips the narrative. It reads, “The house before dawn. Everyone asleep.” Ah. Now that’s a house I know. A pensive and moody time that evokes “melancholy feelings or tonalities.”

Do you think cats don’t “come into their own” and become “mysterious” at 4 a.m., too? I wouldn’t know, having little congress with cats over the years, but I know that dogs are a different breed at that hour, as is the lighting, as are my feelings both when reading and writing. It’s a magical time with richer possibility than other times of the day.

And so, it’s enough. My unconscious, mental “switch” conveniently expands inexperience to encompass experience, a trick that writers and readers count on for both tea and sympathy.

And you know what? It’s darkest before dawn, meaning I can flip a switch and create “an electric room” outside, too. Just like that.

So go ahead. Write a nocturne just after you’ve written an aubade, no matter which you’re familiar with. Opposites attract, and your readers will adjust.

Brodsky and the Business of Writing

Sorry jumbo shrimp, but there is no bigger oxymoron than “the business of writing.” Even Thomas Jefferson would find this truth self-evident.

I was reminded of it while reading Shauna Osborn’s poem “panic stricken uncertainties & the business of writing” in the June 2018 issue of Poetry. The poem kicks off with a Joseph Brodsky quote, to wit:

“In the business of writing what one accumulates is not expertise but uncertainties. Which is but another name for craft. In this filed, where expertise invites doom, the notions of adolescence and maturity get mixed up, and panic is the most frequent state of mind. So I would be lying if I resorted to chronology or to anything that suggests a linear process. A school is a factory is a poem is a prison is academia is boredom, with flashes of panic.”

A great definition of the business of selling poems, I think. It is equal parts panic and confusion. Brodsky also was prescient in seeing uncertainties as another name for Craft. (I wonder if he said this before I was born.)

The string of metaphors in the last line of the quote tells us that Brodsky hasn’t a clue as to methodology. “Selling” poetry is like shooting in the dark. Sometimes something yelps. It’s called a willing market.

The trouble with marketing poetry is time. Poets can lose a year of their lives waiting for a single editor to say yea or nay, and years are finite. Imagine, then, what four “no’s” cost you. Four years of your finite life!

For this reason, among others, time interested Brodsky, too:

“Basically, it’s hard for me to assess myself, a hardship not only prompted by the immodesty of the enterprise, but because one is not capable of assessing himself, let alone his work. However, if I were to summarize, my main interest is the nature of time. That’s what interests me most of all. What time can do to a man.”

In the end, Brodsky understood that society and readers played a role in the business of writing, too. Somehow poetry has become ghettoized by the storm troopers of literature, fiction and nonfiction.

Readers are complicit as well, spending with abandon on the uniformed thugs of writing genres while never even considering a walk toward the poetry section in a bookstore (“What? There’s a poetry section in bookstores?”) Some final Brodsky words of wisdom:

“By writing… in the language of his society, a poet takes a large step toward it. It is society’s job to meet him halfway, that is, to open his book and read it.”

Meet a poet halfway today. Read his or her poetry book.

Billy Collins, Animated

Billy Collins, one of the most recognized among American poets, did a wise thing years ago. He harnessed the power of video to many of his poems. This not only helped poet-writers with the art of imagery, it also gave reluctant poet-readers (often known as “students”) a door into the not-so-bad-after-all genre of poetry.

Given the amount of technology available to writers, teachers, and students alike, Collins’ example can lead in multiple directions. As readers, you can read, reread, discuss, reread, enjoy, reread, analyze, reread, and then view a poem.

As a writer, you can write your own. For some writers, wondering what your words would look like if animated might inspire the specific nouns which give birth to imagery.

Finally, as an animator, you can create a video for your own poem (or one for someone else’s poem that inspires you). The tools are there, even in the classroom in the case of many tech-savvy schools.

But whatever you do or don’t do, seeing and hearing accessible poems like Billy Collins’ will prove (once again) that poetry is meant to be read aloud, whether it be yours or someone else’s.

Here is Billy Collins’ TED Talk, which introduces animation for his poems “Budapest,” “Some Days,” “Forgetfulness,” “The Country,” and “The Dead.”

And here are words to the poems used in the video:

“Budapest”

“Some Days”

“Forgetfulness”

“The Country”

“The Dead”

Searching “Billy Collins Poetry” on YouTube will lead you to even more of his poems set to video.

Happy reading (and rereading) and viewing (and reviewing) and finally writing (and revising).

Notice the important of re-‘s. Then go have some fun.

The Importance of Imagery in “Sit and Write” Poems

laguna-beach-at-night

There are ekphrastic poems, yes, where you write about another painter’s vision on canvas, but what about your own vision when you’re just hanging out in a favorite spot?

That’s the premise of what I call a “Sit and Write” poem—one that puts your description skills to the test. Consider Charles Wright’s “Looking West from Laguna Beach at Night.” I love the nonchalant start he gives it in Line 1 of this poem. Let’s join him for a look, shall we?

 

Looking West from Laguna Beach at Night
by Charles Wright

I’ve always liked the view from my mother-in-law’s house at night,
Oil rigs off Long Beach
Like floating lanterns out in the smog-dark Pacific,
Stars in the eucalyptus,
Lights of airplanes arriving from Asia, and town lights
Littered like broken glass around the bay and back up the hill.

In summer, dance music is borne up
On the sea winds from the hotel’s beach deck far below,
“Twist and Shout,” or “Begin the Beguine.”
It’s nice to think that somewhere someone is having a good time,
And pleasant to picture them down there
Turned out, tipsy and flushed, in their white shorts and their
turquoise shirts.

Later, I like to sit and look up
At the mythic history of Western civilization,
Pinpricked and clued through the zodiac.
I’d like to be able to name them, say what’s what and how who got
where,
Curry the physics of metamorphosis and its endgame,
But I’ve spent my life knowing nothing.

 

Oil rigs don’t sound very promising until they become floating lanterns in the Pacific. The “smog-dark” Pacific. I learned hyphenated adjectives from the master—Dylan Thomas. Read his poetic short story, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” and you’ll be wowed, too.

The last line of stanza one offers another neat little simile, comparing town lights to “littered…broken glass around the bay and back up the hill.” Again, we get a negative association (broken glass) turned lovely by the imagery Wright employs.

In the second stanza, I wonder about Wright’s wistfulness. When he says, “It’s nice to think that somewhere someone is having a good time,” is he implying that he, himself, isn’t, or should we take it a face value? Either way, it’s a kindness—one enhanced by his gentle acceptance of their drunkenness and poor dressing decisions.

The turn comes in the third stanza. Notice how the zooming in suddenly pans out to the night sky. And Wright matches the image by thinking big, too, about Western civilization, no less, as he looks at the mythological figures traced out (poorly, I might add) by the stars.

One summer I memorized most of the constellations in the utter dark over Maine, but I’ve since lost a few. Thus, I can identify with Wright’s wrap-up: “But I’ve spent my life knowing nothing.”

Clearly he’s not as generous with himself as he is with others. The line, too, reminds me of James Wright’s (no relation) finish in “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” (a second cousin to “Sit and Write” poems—namely “Lie and Write” poems). That one ends: “I have wasted my life.”

Man, these Wright boys. They’re tough on themselves, no?

Poets: Damn Quirky Readers

eliot

When it comes to reading poetry, I admit to a few quirky habits. Let’s start with reading a collection. I’ll use as an example Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, a book I picked up because it had won some awards (the Gratitude Awards or something).

First, the ritual I go through before I read a book of poetry. I count the number of poems in the table of contents. Here it is a nimble 24. Doesn’t seem enough to flesh out a full book of poetry (this is not a chapbook), but once you enter, the mystery is solved. Gay mostly writes long, strung-out single-stanza poems, often with lines that consist of 2-6 words. Note to self: Want to stretch a chapbook into a full collection, Gumby-style? Gay shows the way!

But back to the rituals. Acknowledgments. My second stop. The poet in me wants to know where these poems have seen the light of published day. Often, it’s a depressing exercise as I see a litany of top-drawer publications–the stuff of most poets’ rejections files. But in Gay’s case, it’s a motley– and to my mind, somewhat inspiring– set of obscure and maybe doable journals: Solstice, Gabby, Exit 7, Nashville Review, Bombay Gin, Oversound, etc. Hard as I listen (ear to the ground), however, I’ve never heard of them. Any of them, which makes me wonder how many are still in business? Poetry journals, like fruit flies, are fleeting things. Cover your glasses of grape juice, people.

Third ritual, I start reading the poems with a small notebook nearby.  I write down cool phrases from the poems as I read. I know from teaching that you never stop getting better and–news flash–there is no such thing as a “master teacher,” no matter how many years you teach.

Ditto with poetry writing. and “master poets.” You are an apprentice forever. The Sisyphus of Stanzas. Always pushing the rock. Always learning. If you want to be funny about it, you can recall T.S. Eliot’s line: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal” as you read. Or how about the more contemporary Billy Collins lines from “The Trouble with Poetry”:

 

And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.
And what an unmerry band of thieves we are,
cut-purses, common shoplifters…

 

By way of example of lines you might find in my notebook, here are a few I jotted down from Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude:

 

“pulling me down into the oldest countries of my body”

“mostly he disappeared into the minor yawns of the earth”

“purple skin like cathedrals of glass”

“filling the sky in my chest”

“cat’s shimmy through the grin of the fence”

“his tongue drowsed slack as a creek”

“In that gaudy, cement-mixer Leavettown accent that sends lemurs scaling my rib cage to see”

 

Eliot and Collins aside, the idea is to collect examples of how poets create new ways of saying old truths, to catch the unexpected word pairings that glow like newly-captured fireflies in a jar (I recommend catch-and-release).

Back to rituals. If we can shift gears, I also have habits when reading poetry journals. Specifically the senior among poetry journals called (of all things) Poetry. They have a wonderful habit of printing brief bios of contributing poets in the back. If it’s a first-time appearance in their august journal (even if it’s July), they place an asterisk near the poet’s name.

My quirky habit? I’m a bad boy. If I read a poem and think to myself, “This? THIS was accepted by the most august (even if it’s July) poetry journal in the land? It MUST be a much-published and well-known poet cruising on his or her laurels (outfitted with wheels)!”

Sure enough, I am 90% accurate when I go back and find no asterisk but plenty of previously-published works near the poet’s name. The poems I often like best? Often they are starred. Asterisked as new blood. Earning their way into the august heat via hard work and ingenuity with the pen (or keyboard, Brave New World-style).

It gives one hope, something every poet, new and old, carries in his satchel like Perseus’s mirror. The Medusas of Rejection are many, after all.

“To Love Is the First Innocence”

pessoa

“You just don’t think!”

As a child, I often heard these words, usually from one of my parents, sometimes from a teacher, but always as a reprimand. Nowadays, however, I see some merit in not thinking — at least in certain situations.

Thinking too much can get you in trouble. Some people fail to keep matters simple because they overthink. Other people inadvertently open the door to depression because they think too much. Reading the news? Following politics? Worrying, worrying, worrying? All symptoms of thinking too much.

Which brings us to the translation of Fernando Pessoa’s poetry newly translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Patricio Ferrari, The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro. If you know Pessoa, you know that he had numerous heteronyms and that the bucolic Alberto Caeiro was one of them. This was a poet Pan could enjoy, a simple man who took simple pleasures by way of his senses only. As the operative words are not to think but just to be, you’d think Caeiro would make a good Buddhist, but he professed no philosophy whatsoever. Even that would be overthinking matters.

Poem #2 of the 114 in this edition lays it out. Caeiro is going to make like Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and just absorb the sun and the rain. Of course, reading on, you realize it’s a deception. A lot of thought indeed goes into what follows. By way of Caeiro, Pessoa was a notorious revisionist, and although he won’t say “writing is thinking,” it is and he is first and foremost a practitioner.

Still, as he states in Poem #1, Caeiro wants only “to be a little lamb / (Or to be the whole flock / And wander over the entire hillside / And be many happy things at the same time).”

 

Poem #2 of The Keeper of Sheep by Alberto Caeiro
(heteronym of Fernando Pessoa)

In my gaze, everything is clear as a sunflower.
I’m in the habit of going for walks along the roads,
Looking to the right and to the left,
And now and then looking back…
And what I see at each moment
Is something I’ve never seen before,
And I’m very good at that…
I know how to feel the profound astonishment
A child would feel if, on being born,
He realized that he truly had been born…
I feel newborn with every moment
To the complete newness of the world…

I believe in the world as in a daisy
Because I see it. But I don’t think about it
Because to think is to not understand…
The world wasn’t made for us to think about it
(Thinking is a sickness of the eyes)
But for us to look at it and to be at one…

I have no philosophy: I have senses…
If I talk about Nature, that isn’t because I know what it is,
But because I love it, and that’s why I love it,
Because whoever loves never knows what he loves
Nor why he loves, not what it means to love…
To love is the first innocence,
And the only true innocence is not to think…

Doggone Poetry

pug

I like reading poems that go where angels fear to tread. One such category would be dog poems. As a subject in poetry, dogs and cats are on the “hit list.” You know what that means. Proceed at your own risk. Or, as the sign in the Wizard of Oz says, “I’d go back if I were you.”

But me, I’m a dog guy. I am as disinterested in cats as they are in me. But there’s an asterisk after “dog guy,” too. In this day and age, pets are so high on the pedestal that they often surpass humans.

For instance, you see more and more people bringing their pets into stores, causing me to shake my head and say, “Why was that dog not left at home?” They allow dogs on furniture, causing me to ask, “Why was this dog never trained to stay on the floor?” They allow dogs into their beds under the covers, causing me to say, “Um. Gross.”

So, yeah. I’m a dog guy, but an old-school dog guy. To me a dog is a dog and should be both respected and treated as such. He or she is not a surrogate son or daughter worthy of birthday parties with guests or full-fledged funerals and burials or prominent places in lasts wills and testaments. Why? Because he or she is a dog.

That said, dogs can still teach us a thing or two about human nature. The late Tony Hoagland took a shot at it himself in a poem he called “Fetch.” You might find it fetching. You might find it delineates key aspects of dogs’ characters. For starters, their unconditional love and loyalty—rare things coming from humans.

Whatever you find or don’t, you have to admire Hoagland’s trying. There are no forbidden topics in poetry, he seems to be saying. And if dogs don’t belong in grocery store carts, they at least belong in poems!

 

Fetch
Tony Hoagland

Who knew that the sweetest pleasure of my fifty-eighth year
would turn out to be my friendship with the dog?

That his trembling, bowlegged bliss at seeing me stand there with the leash
would give me a feeling I had sought throughout my life?

Now I understand those old ladies walking
their Chihuahuas in the dusk, plastic bag wrapped around one hand,

content with a companionship that, whatever
else you think of it, is totally reliable.

And in the evening, at cocktail hour,
I think tenderly of them

in all of those apartments on the fourteenth floor
holding out a little hotdog on a toothpick

to bestow a luxury on a friend
who knows more about uncomplicated pleasure

than any famous lobbyist for the mortal condition.
These barricades and bulwarks against human loneliness,

they used to fill me with disdain,
but that was before I found out my metaphysical needs
could be so easily met

by the wet gaze of a brown-and-white retriever
with a slight infection of the outer ear
and a tail like a windshield wiper.

I did not guess that love would be returned to me
as simply as a stick returned when it was thrown

again and again and again—
in fact, I still don’t exactly comprehend.

What could that possibly have to teach me
about being human?

 

It’s one of those poems that ends in a question. A metaphorical question, if you’re a dog owner.

 

Who Gets to Determine a Poem’s Meaning?

deer

In a 2005 press release upon the death of one of their own former professors, Louise Rosenblatt, New York University published an obituary that included these words about Rosenblatt’s pioneering work on reading theory:

 

“While teaching literature to college students, [Rosenblatt] developed an approach that broke with the dominant academic model (the New Criticism), which elevated ‘the text,’ declaring it accessible only to those trained in unlocking its code. By contrast, Rosenblatt stressed that every act of reading involved a ‘transaction’ of reader and text in which both were essential. In her view, any text — Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a car owner’s manual, a poem — was lifeless without a reader who is active: active readers create multiple readings of the same text; no reading is uniquely ‘correct.’ At the same time, Rosenblatt argued against the purely personal and subjective approaches more popular in recent years. She noted that some readings were more defensible than others and worked for a community of readers who sought to refine their reading and test their responses against the text. Rosenblatt maintained that this approach — respectful of the individual’s response while dedicated to serious communication and debate–is essential to fostering citizens equipped for democratic life.”

 

The lead-off batter in my first book, a poem called “Trigger,” could be the poster child for Rosenblatt’s transactional theory. The 18-line work, first published in Gray’s Sporting Journal in the fall of 2014, is split into two stanzas, the first focused on the speaker, a hunter, and the second on the white-tail deer that is his quarry.

Before I comment on the poem and the assumptions that weigh it (and any poem) down, read it yourself to draw your own conclusions:

 

Trigger 

This is where I held
my breath—
a stand of red pine,
needles and snowdust
scribed about my boot,
cold crescent
resisting a swollen
finger itchy-numb
with November.

This is where a buck
held its breath—
mouth mid-meal
amid the mast,
a single line
of berry drool
spiking the fur
of his white and
wild-cherried chin.

Ken Craft

 

Seems rather straightforward, no? Most readers would interpret this to be about the moment before a hunter pulls the trigger on the deer he has in his sights. And that is a legitimate interpretation, perhaps even the most sensible one.

To get to that interpretation, however, one must make assumptions about the hunter by making said hunter think and act like hunters stereotypically do. What if, however, it is the speaker’s first hunting foray? What if the speaker is struck by the beauty of the animal? What if the speaker just witnessed a deer carcass eviscerated and cleaned by another hunter and has decided he or she has no stomach for it? In that case, the same poem might read differently. In short, it could work as a poem about the moment before a hunter decides not to pull the trigger.

Note, for instance, the word “resisting” in L7 of the first stanza. A trigger does not resist without an accomplice, namely the person holding a finger to it. Note also the anthropomorphic portrayal of the buck. It “held its breath–/mouth mid-meal/amid the mast.”

Would a buck, even alerted to danger (and it seems too preoccupied with dinner for that), really hold its breath?

I propose, then, that the poem works either way, as a frozen moment in time before action or inaction. But as the writer, Rosenblatt would argue, I do not get the last say, given that all poems are subject to a fair negotiation between their readers and the poet. The key is this: Reader interpretations must be backed by evidence in the poem. All parts of the poem, not just cherry-picked parts.

Bottom line: Even if the poet has a specific meaning in mind (and yes, that meaning could be trigger pulled, trigger not pulled, or poem purposely cryptic as an artistic statement), it becomes, once it’s read, as much a reflection on the reader’s cultural background, prejudices, and artistic tastes as it does a reflection of the poet. Louise Rosenblatt, I think, would be cheered by that.

Either way, readers can agree, at least, on one point — the poem ends, but the deer does not. Yet. That will come in seconds.

Or years.

 

 

_______________________________________________________________

Ken Craft’s most recent collection of poetry, Reincarnation & Other Stimulants is available on the BOOKS page of this web site.