Poem: “An E-mail from God Concerning the Recent Plague of Locusts”
Poet: Nick McRae
Journal: Sweet: A Literary Confection
Blogger: A. Schafer
“An E-mail from God Concerning the Recent Plague of Locusts” is a humorous poem by Nick McRae that effectively uses alliteration and concrete language to create an ironic depiction of the end of the world. In the first stanza, McRae’s description of the locust plague utilizes harsh, repetitive “cl” sounds, as in the words “clanging,” “clouds,” “crashing,” and “clenched,” creating a crunchy tone for the stanza. The harsh sounds support the phrase, “in flowed locusts, tiny centurions,” making the sudden flood of locusts feel like a confrontation. This image is further evoked through McRae’s description of the locusts themselves: “Breasts bronzed with armor” compliments the rubbing of their legs together “like swords upon shields.”
The human God emailing creates the humorous undertone of the scenario when he finds shelter in a Starbucks. The speaker compares this human holding a laptop to Pharaoh. God’s comparison incites an interesting parallel between the two men. God notes the Pharaoh cursed at Him in a similar reaction as the modern man, “as though I were a motorist who had run over the boy and driven away.” This comparison reveals that the man blames God for the plague without accepting any blame himself. Perhaps the sins of this man are related to his response to the incoming locusts; he ignores the insects, resorting to “typing on [his] screenplay” to occupy himself.
McRae’s description of the locusts’ actions packs concrete, specific details. The locusts transform animals in a pet store into “white cages locked in larger cages,” and the author even describes the sequence of places the locusts visit. For me, the “slumping” of the shopkeeper’s remains was a powerful image, as well as the passage wherein the recipient of God’s email goes home “for a bite.” McRae’s characterization of the email recipient is one of cliche normalcy; he writes his screenplay, goes to Starbucks, and goes home for food. His only reaction to the “watches, wallets, and here and there a prosthetic limb” is a mildly pissy attitude because he has to “walk all that way in the dark.” Overall McRae’s poem creates a strong image with a unique perspective that displayed exemplary concreteness and alliteration.