Original poem reprinted online here: "L’Avenir est Quelque Chose" by Dobby Gibson
Originally read: May 17, 2013
More information about the Poet: Dobby Gibson
So thanks to Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine & Blog for translating the title. "The Future is Something" in French. I don't know the reference to the title. Regardless, the poem is scattered in its focus. There's images and similes that expand the absurdist tone that's trying to stay sane, trying to remember.
The focus in the first few lines is on the speakers ability to only think about umbrellas -- not the physical representation of umbrellas, but the ownership of one, "I how I can't remember how / I came to possess whatever weird one."
However, the lines that have three quick similes in them expand the idea of ownership through the other half of the comparison -- what it could be like:
I find in my hand, like now,
how they hang there on brass hooks
in the closet like failed actors,
each one tiny or too huge,
like ideas, always needing
The poem spins quickly in the mind of the speaker as he is trying to figure out where all the pieces fit, so similes slow down the thought process. For example, "like now" refocuses the poem on the present, and then the absurd begins. The simile referencing "failed actors" dies when it starts -- the reference serves as a jump that characterizes the speaker more than the issue at hand since "failed" is such a heavy handed word. The last simile focusing on ideas contextualizes how to read the poem "tiny or too huge" that need to be "shaken off and folded up / before we can properly forget them on the train." The focus might be on "forget" but first something else has to happen, the ideas need to be "shaken" and "folded" -- dealt with in a sense before the end of the poem (perhaps). Also note the usage of "we" that indicates the other...who is the other? The ever burning question.
But first this line, "my predictions are honestly / just hopes." This is where past me wrote "core?" What I mean is that as the speaker is trying to consolidate his thoughts into an absurdist overload based as nothing more than predictions or something more personal as in hopes. Which one, again is the other? Or can this be a combination of both ideals.
The poem continues to go off track with mention of dresses, book awards, baby boomers, cereal company interns, baseball. Linguistically this is interesting though, "the one just for sun , / the one with the wooden handle / as crooked as the future." The repetition actually slows down the idea of the poem meanwhile the double simile gains speed and pacing, but a confused one in which, "terrifies me whenever one of us uses it / as a stand in for a dance partner." Past me wrote "future as a dance partner?" And the point is not how the poem goes outward, but how there's blimps of focus that is dismissed based on technique.
Then there's the lines, "beneath something that felt to her like a tent / as it felt to me like my prediction / we would live forever was already true." Usually, lines like these aren't recoverable in the sense of over saturated sentimentality, but, supposedly, the absurd should save this line. I think for me, the absurd actually amplifies the sentimentality to be too earnest and saturated in hope (prediction). The lines are an escape from the absurd and grounds the speaker into comprehension, "I know you won't ever be able to say / exactly what you're feeling either." The other, a person (she), better yet a concept, better yet escape is not tangible and can be only recognized through sentimentality.
For the last four lines, past me wrote, "gravity":
we will ever see the sun? --
the way we're sure to pull closer
to whatever's between us, the rain playing
the drum that's suddenly us.
The turn around back to the umbrella lines (which questioned the ownership, but not the actual) brings more focus between the speaker and the other as the speaker continues to refer to "we" and "us." The transformation at the end to the drum is quite powerful in a sentimental sense. Here the poem goes in multiple examples of absurdity, but the drum with the rain playing on it has pretty much the same sound, different rhythem, but in a singular unison.