Original poem reprinted online here: "Memorial" by Sebastian Agudelo
Originally read: November 1, 2013
More information about the Poet: Sebastian Agudelo
This poem is kind of like a sound wave. And motion expands, and then the silence brings it back down. The question here is what expands and how far.
The poem is mostly stream of consciousness with the opening part being "A damp season," Which seems big, but becomes bigger with the idea of "they'll seem like fungal spread on posts." And what is they? " less posting, yard sale, lost cat, runaway" it's the idea that expands off the single post. Yes, the post has "cover the thick / of staples left" But remember that the first image is of the season, then condensed down to the staples of the post, and then to the flyers. All this is illusion since "they" hasn't been realized yet.
"Lately, mind you, / a bit more desperate, more out of work, less / high tech, signs folks scribble offering to do." Then from the idea of flyers, there's an idea of classifieds, looking the theme here to attain what, "odd jobs, junk pick-ups, garden work, my favorite / rides to prison." Note that nothing has been specified in the classifieds as far as the poem goes. "They" is an unclear concept but everything around it is being described with a good amount of detail.
"Who needs a headline or speech / when state of the union is rigged-jobbed to the creosote soaked poles on every corner?" So this is the rhetorical questions that marks the change in the poem. How? Well, the change in style is the most obvious point (from lucid description to rhetorical question" But the line is sort of ironic by announcing the change when, in the context of the poem, the line seems to chastise the ability to make announcements that cannot fade -- since the only thing that stands is the poles and not the flyers.
Then the tone gets a bit more angry, hostile, "Americans Must Morn, Make-do, this one / says while the Times and Couriers elsewhere / sugarcoat what's fit to print." A more direct attack of how there's a partition of what's news or not -- where the speaker feels that anything with Times and Couriers sugar coat what's fit to print. But note how the speaker just becomes more accusatory and less image based. And now the tone is the driving force of the poem.
Here's the core, "they are, the piles of plush animals / meant to grieve the seventeen year old shot down" There seems to be an implication that this is not news, but the main news in the poem. This sort of duplicity of tone and emotion creates a greater impact of emotion to this line and so when the like of plush animals goes pm for six lines from the more pop referenced "Sponge bob wire-tied above, Daffy" to the more generic" plush teddies, lucky dogs" the list feels like a poem within a poem with mimicked styles -- specific that expands outward to the generic, then back to the specific -- the specific in this case is the after effect of said animals.
"every creeping / thing of the earth after his kind, it seems, left / to tuft and mildew after rain, blanch in the sun." What saves this line as being either too sentimental or too didactic is that the subject, the they, in the poem isn't introduced until late in the poem -- the memorial of the person based from teddy bears. The angry tone also saves the line -- there's a sense of injustice but not stated. This sense comes from the usage of images "mildew" and "blanch." Of course, these are inferred ideas on my end, but the images and the technique comes off strong to critique the idea of headlines, death, and memory.