Monday, April 29, 2013

Analysis of "Dispatch Detailing Rust" by Adrian C. Louis

Original poem reprinted online here: "Dispatch Detailing Rust" by Adrian C. Louis
Originally read: January 29, 2013
More information about the Poet: Adrian C. Louis

So this is the first poem that I'm analyzing for this blog which has both narrative and lyrical elements to the poem;  furthermore, the elements are so distinctly separate that I feel that there's a progression of intent for the reader and the speaker.

The first stanza is narrative where the speaker details the experience of seeing his "enemy's hand" and "gloated." So breakdown a little bit, the first half of this stanza has character development (speaker has an enemy and doesn't think him/herself old until as old) -- however, within the first few lines  the speaker identifies himself as a visual speaker and how attention oriented he/she is to the point that near the end of the first stanza the speaker realizes his/her own hands are just like his/her enemy -- or rather the enemy now.  Hands being a synecdoche to age.

What is built up in the first stanza -- character, a bias actually. towards the visual as a representation for age -- actually visual imagery.  So in the the second stanza the poem goes towards a lamenting lyrical slant.  The speaker is equivocal about  his/her situation with the opening words of "Sometimes now" which also centers the poem in the present.  The poem's images become more surreal and general, "these hands of mine stroke / a steel blue dream that / will instantly inhabit rust."

Past me writes, "the metaphor has good sound and image to it.  Does refer to aging again so it's a little redundant."  Well, the reference to aging is the crux of the poem, however, the representation to age changes to rust.

Past me continues to critique about the redundancy of age; however, I see something different now.  No matter what the style -- narrative or lyric -- or what type of image -- hands or dust (which transform into bluebirds and sky) -- there's always a mention of age.  Now it could be that the poet wants the last images -- bluebirds and sky to adopt the symbol or age.  Or rather, that no matter what is changed in the poem, the theme or age will be constantly the same.


  1. "steel blue dream" is a reference to a hand gun...

    1. I've been thinking about this comment since I first read it, intending to respond when I made up my mind of this information.

      I haven't made up my mind. But I'd rather present the quandary rather than take a stance.

      In one way, knowing "steel blue dream" is a reference to a hand gun introduces a sense of violence along with age that would, "they [age and violence perhaps] regain sanity, / become old bluebirds / in the blue sigh of the sky." There would be another connotative layer to the color blue. Furthermore, there's an added sense of purpose and knowledge with this knowledge.

      However, without the violence and having the "steel blue dream" be a hallucinatory surreal metaphor (steel blue also known as a very specific color) the lyricism and lucid flow of the poem stand out creating more of an experience for me -- being there at that moment.

      The poem could have both aspects. But I could see why readers like myself not knowing the reference could be problematic and lead to drastic misinterpretations.

      So, like I wrote, I haven't made up my mind. In any case, thanks for letting me know.