Original poem reprinted online here: "My Dad, In America," by Shann Ray
Originally read: January 1, 2013
More information about the Poet: Shann Ray
Now the execution is important here. The content of the poem is not
directly extreme -- father goes out to get some animals for a Cheyenne
old woman who gives some sage like wisdom. Yet this poem is based on
subtext upon subtext.
"The poem works as a juxtaposition of extremes: gentle.violent, air/land, blood/forgiveness, dead/new. I question, though, how separate the images are...how intertwined the ideas are."
So I reread this poem again and I see what I meant; however, I want to focus on this line, "We need to know in America there is still blood / for forgiveness." because the line break creates this fragmented extremes. This also occurs in the first two lines "Your hand on my jaw / but gently." However there's a difference.
The jaw/gently line there is a conjunction there -- or rather it's telegraphed that there's going to be a change there. Albeit that the change happens on the line break. Yet, the "blood/forgiveness" line is not as telegraphed meaning that the line comes as a "surprise" and the brevity of the "forgiveness" line suggests that the concept of "forgiveness" is supposed to be focused on with the previous line being an additive.
The choice of animals I find interesting. I write down, "Gopher / magpie. (Land [vermin] / air [thief]). Sure the animals locate the poem but there's kind of a shared detest. Volatile separation...I'm starting to hyperbolize and look into the poem too much.
Subtext does that to me as a reader. I don't know how to describe it -- the poem makes me want to find deeper and deeper meanings within something so simple. I don't know if that's a good thing or me analyzing why I should put a judgement call on my own interpretations.