Gerald Yelle’s “Sister With Broom”

Magazine: Juked
Poem: “Sister with Broom”
Poet: Gerald Yelle
Blogger: M.  Adeolu

The poem opens with a description telling the reader it willl be about a mother and child and there being a sense of regret, somewhere between the lines.

The idea of “belief” is what sparked my eye about this poem. The author, Gerald Yelle exemplifies what could have been and the reasons why it was not possible. The fact that if the mayor’s mother had courage to believe in her daughter then the entire poem would have a different meaning. Throughout the story the author exemplifies a voice of regret, guilt and misunderstanding. In the poem “Sister with Broom” if the mayor’s mother knew what the daughter had in store for her future, the child would have been protected instead of neglected.

“Porches are no place to prepare a future leader” this line in the poem grabbed my attention and lingered with me.  It adds meaning to the poem by itself. There is nothing fascinating about a porch. We often connect a porch with being lazy on a hot summer day, sitting on it and watching life pass by. So to have the daughter take courses on the fine art of sweeping porches instead of “fallacy of the common and the notion of grazing” says a lot.

Living in a world where we have been inscribed with an image that a mother and her child should have a strong unbreakable, connection. Like God knows how many lines he has drawn on the inside of our own hands, a mother should know her child. It is intriguing to the reader how the mayor’ s mother didn’t know, and if she did how she would of treated her daughter differently. How she left her daughter to fend for herself, instead she would have made sure she was well groomed, into becoming a future leader. Reading this piece moved me because it opened my eyes on how people will not always put effort, or risk because they are unaware. Those who don’t risk, do nothing, and are nothing and that’s what the mayor’s mother did.

Allison Leigh’s “Poem beginning with ‘Let'”

Magazine: The Collagist
Poem: “Poem beginning with ‘Let’”
Poet: Allison Leigh
Blogger: A. Duncan

The first thing that attracted me to this poem was its title. It doesn’ t so much as state what the poem is going to be about, but exactly how it starts. That really intrigued me to keep reading. As I read the poem over, it gave me the feeling that this person has definitely become hardened by some of the things that have happened in her life. Instead of making it an easy/straight-forward poem, she dives into the heart of the issue, starting out with, “I lied. I’m tired/ of being told what to let.” The writer really starts to de-familiarize the word ‘let’ for me, as it is continuously used in ways that are unexpected and new. I never thought about how many times I use the word ‘let’ as if I’m saying a command to someone. She defies the world and what people are telling her to do when she says, “Let no one tell you what to let/ & often things will let themselves”. This line connects with the ending where she goes into the supernatural of just letting everything be, simply because it is supposed to be.

I’m not sure where the poem ends up. The beginning seemed so simple in a way. Letting go, letting it be, can be exhausting. It’s time to stand for the things you don’t want to let anymore. The poem ends with, “ Better yet, let the ether up there, / the soft & the brilliant, /invisible, crystalline. /Let your first face. /Let place. /Let the up there”. It is striking because it is so unexpected and off the triggering subject (which is good!). She goes from describing everyday life to contemplating a sort of supernatural. The beginning seems so angry, but the end switches to a peace that she seems to feel now that she has expressed her pent up angst towards the top. Instead of people not telling you what to let, she has moved on, to “Let place. / Let the up there”.  I love the idea of stepping back and letting go, when it is necessary to your own sanity, but not when others are bossing you around.

Leigh’s word choices seemed odd at places. Her choice of using the word ‘ ether’ at the end of the poem was at first confusing to me because I feel like it is an uncommon word. I had to look up the definition of it. But I realized that it is how the language flows and calls out to us that makes a poem what it is. Therefore, I really found myself liking her word choice in that moment, and the description of ether that follows. I also loved how she used hard or unexpected words in certain places, such as, : “Let yourself / get loved or handsome first. / Go let yourself some coffee”.  Handsome and coffee are rough sounding, which to me, break up the lines. But I like it because she is intending to bring the bumpiness of the subject matter (people not letting you do what you want) to the language.

Nick McRae’s “An E-Mail from God Concerning the Recent Plague of Locusts”

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.