Original poem reprinted online here: "Vaudeville" by Barbara Crooker
Originally read: August 24, 2013
More information about the Poet: Barbara Crooker
The poem is image-centric. Furthermore, the poem is also placed at a particular time of year as well to condense the image which, of course, turns into a metaphor which is somewhat given away by the title. So here's the nature turning vaudeville imagery:
Late October, and the sky is that clear blue scrim
we only see when the leaves go presto change, garnet
and gold, and asters and chrysanthemums, the last
flowers, take their bow on center stage.
Yes, a bit cheesy, but notice how the speaker introduces the change to vaudeville through as an object, and then further more the line "take their bow on center stage," which refer to "aster and chrysanthemums." It is the action that are vaudeville and the speaker is forcing the image upon image.
Yet another example, "The birds / are packing it up, preparing their exit, and the rest / of the garden collapses in ruin:" Note how the forcing of image upon image had more of a playful tone to it. Yes, Vaudeville and a little cheeky, but still playful, and then here the tone shifts to something darker, "garden collapses in ruin" in a a single turn. It seems a little too much. But the poem is vaudeville with dramatic turns and images and, to the point, here the vaudeville feels normal, but the tone feels forced, "fallen branches, / crumpled programs, dried leaves."
And then the switch again with, "The house light / turns everything golden, and even though we know / what's coming, the next act," note here that the shift from the "dead" to the "light" is actually a natural progression; however, the speaker talks to the audience now -- breaking the fourth wall with, "we start to believe / we can stay here forever in the amber spotlight" which the speaker forces motivation onto, not only the scene, but also the reader.
Now, at this point, the question is why? (That night's black velvet curtain will never fall" has more is more of a dramatic finish allusion to death, but this has been built up already). Why? It's in the flurry, and not the other techniques.
The emotions, images, movement are a forced compilation to hide fear. And even though the tone shifts quite often -- there isn't a sense of fear, but the actions and thoughts are someone afraid.