Original poem reprinted online here: "Geckos in Obscure Light" by William Logan
Originally read: February 6, 2013
More information about the Poet: William Logan
"Their." Over the past couple of poems, I've been harping a lot on ambiguous pronouns. That, if not done that well, will lead to overall confusion of subject -- for example, if there are multiple subjects should all descriptors be applicable to all of them; however, if done right, then the ambiguous pronouns set up correctly then the descriptors will be applicable to all the subjects seamlessly. Yes, it's a fine line -- a fine, subjective, hypothetical line.
"Their" in line three of the poem refers to the Geckos mentioned in the first stanza with their "shadow organs" however, this couplet still confuses me, "backs a tarnished armor studded / by the rosettes of some obscure disease." On one hand, I understand the armor part as a foreshadow to war; however, I'm not too sure about the "obscure disease" part. The "obscure disease," in the context of the poem, serve as an ornamental device of the "armor." I could see the shift in color, but the description is a little bit off.
However, the description of the "victims" furthers the metaphor of war, "The cannon fodder." This line, "Welsh soldiery thrown each night / against the muzzle flare?" concretes the conflict (Welsh vs ???) and also redefines light into a symbol -- a flare.
Moths are compared to as F-16 -- the description is a bit hyperbolic, but it's important to note that the victims have high tech weaponry and are still getting destroyed. In some ways, this isn't a war poem; rather, this poem shows a different perspective of war through allegory. How?
The geckos, the ones who profit and get full from the moths (representation of actual physical fighting) are represented as "great officers and kings" who "took into their mouths, more or less, / at leisure with a gratifying snap" There's a shift of tone to a snarky one, and I feel that it fits because the allegory is a bit out there so some commentary is needed to justify the allegory.
The tone continues to the end, "Silently, of course, through the pane of glass, / where death comes on a smaller scale." This may be overly didactic, There's the strong image of the geckos as kings followed by commentary of what the whole scene means. I can see how the power of the last line is used to emphasize a statement; however, what does the statement add? So war is bad, it's been said.
The use of images as an allegory, I can't say I've seen it that often.