Original poem reprinted online here: "My Apocalypse" by Rae Armantrout
Originally read: February 28, 2013
More information about the Poet: Rae Armantrout
"My" such a personal word, next to "Apocalypse" which is a bit epic. However, look at the weight of the words. "Apocalypse," at least to me, is interesting as a concept, but that's just it -- a concept; meanwhile, the "my" brings in a personal interpretation of the term "Apocalypse." So there's an expectation set -- well a weird one actually. Satire, "My Apocalypse is my ipod doesn't work," deeply personal and sincere, "My Apocalypse is <insert excruciatingly painful childhood/teenage/adult/old person experience here (yes, an apocalypse over a lifetime)>"; however, this poem explores the idea of apocalypse on a personal level.
Starting off with the first stanza where a woman from the outside asks about the speaker's own Apocalypse. I feel the next stanza, "What will you give me / if I tell?" brings in a coyness to the poem in which the speaker not only takes on the authority of the poem through the emotion, but also belittles the term "apocalypse," and disengages any personal or emotional attachment to the word "apocalypse." But at the cost of a sense of experience and sincerity. So the focus of the poem is not how the apocalypse (however defined) effects the speaker, rather how the speaker sees and defines the term apocalypse.
I'm not so sure about the origami part -- reinforcing the folding of the meanings, or perhaps transforming the initial meaning of one thing "money" to something as innocuous as "Art." It's just a weird image to that doesn't quite fit the poem image wise, but more conceptually.
The next couple of lines mostly deals with Harold Bloom's concept of what's not being states. The lines talk about a post apocalypse and being in a band (multiple meanings of the word) -- these lines re pretty haunting "We will understand each other / perfectly." Mostly because of the implication. To ask a over the top question indicates a lack of connection; meanwhile, the speaker intention to understand each other -- perfectly indicates an over the top connection (like in one of those love songs that someone will love you forever and ever and ever...and ever). So this poem straddles sides, but in a very language and elegent way.
Then we get the stanza after the star. There's another redefinition where "it" a very ambiguous pronoun become defined as nothing so.
"Nothing is alright"
"Nothing doesn't matter."
Once again the language (much like how the this technique works in the other Rae Armantrout poem I analyzed works by redefinition on multiple levels -- "it" as a generic noun, "it" redefined, "nothing" as a concept, "nothing" as a colloquial term (which harkens back to the attempt to be conversational in the first stanza), and "nothing" as a personal insight (speaker defining the terms).
Complex within a short time.
The last stanza is a bit weird to me. Just like the image of the origami fish, there's an image of a "weathered, fleshy bicyclist. The dual image works with the type of images employed at the last part -- past me wrote this down:
no meaning in the context of the poem. Except for gender. It's kind of cheap though.
Well, present me thinks the image of the visual working together with the sonic brings a certain cynicism. Like the very distinctive details of "tie-dyed shirt" and the sound "Zoom" represent something. Maybe the thought of forward thinking in the 60's.
Also I think the "she" in the last stanza doesn't refer to the "woman" in the first stanza. I feel these two are different entities. The woman in the first stanza is distant through questions, but the "she" in the last stanza is defined and speaking of the zoom (forward momentum) meanwhile the other image is stagnant.
When I think this way, I feel that the image is a stretch and I'm thinking too much into the poem. I think the core is the second stanza though.