Original poem reprinted online here: "My Bright Aluminum Tumblers" by Michael Ryan
Originally read: September 13, 2013
More information about the Poet: Michael Ryan
There are two references to the phrase "who are you" in this poem in which the shift of ideas happen. As I reread this poem, I kept wondering if the shift connects or disconnects. Also I feel that the lack of punctuation
First though, "Who are you / long legged women / in my dream" automatically the tone shifts to an erotic one, but note the speaker automatically places the other in a "dream" world. "kissing me open mouthed / pressing me for ice / we fetch together naked" and in this dream world the actions don't have to make sense, but note the description of tactile sense with kiss, and ice -- the senses and the lust guide the speaker.
"from the freezer / with bright aluminum tumblers" I didn't understand what an aluminum tumbler was, but here is a picture:
Note this is a search of just "aluminum tumblers" the emphasis of bright overloads the senses from the reader and a speaker perspective, "red deep blue purple / icy water /so cold it hurts" the spacing of the descriptors can either slow down or speed the poem depending how they are looked at. If the descriptors do their job and describe, it's just based on color. But note that without punctuation each word could be a phrase so that the "red, deep" can reflect more on the "cold that hurts"
"lips and teeth and membrane / lacy lattices of ice / shattering on our tongues" note how the alliteration of "l" is emphasized to bring a smoothness to the sound, and then "the shattering" happens not only of the image, but also the tone.
"who are you" the second who are you which treads the line of connection and disconnect, "how could I have forgotten / my bright aluminum tumblers." and note this is where I question the connect and disconnect: the focus is on the items that is fathomable, "bright red tumblers" so does that mean that these become a symbol of the experience?
I had to hold with both hands
they couldn't be broken
even if I dropped them
that's how little I was
The sequence was close to being sentimental. Holding onto something that can't be broken. But the change of perspective saves the lines with "how little I was" not because of it's logical that things dropped from such small heights don't break (but that's a part of it) -- the key word is "little" and the many interpretations that can come from it. Since the poem was mostly in a dream sequence -- little could mean a variety of things dependent on how a reader wants to interpret the word: ego, size, age, connection, etc.