Friday, October 30, 2015

Analysis of "Demolition Song" by Benjamin Goldberg

Poem Found Here: "Demolition Song" by Benjamin Goldberg



What makes this poem is the line breaks.  There's an unsettling feel about this poem which comes from technique: the images, the line breaks, the form of the sonnet, the language -- that brings a whirlwind of emotions, nothing to be pinned down,

But first, this opening line "Too often sledgehammers are the answer--" mixes what the title represents -- the image of demolition, the feel of a psalm with the focus on the answer.  What is the sledgehammer the answer to, "rotting crossbeam, plank, or stud, this ribcage, / these boarded storefronts."  The introduction of the speaker's ribcage seems off in the sequence, but not how easily the subject stays within the idea of construction and then the play of sound, "Avenues all sound / like rooftop cisterns, their absent water."  It's the sound of something absent -- when you expect to hear water you hear nothing.

The next three lines of the second stanza have a play with line breaks which make the images descend, "Lord, I"m too often dawns' color of rain / left too long on the frames of a pickup trucks / whose wheels are cindreblocks."  The color of rain is a very pretty metaphor and image -- something that feels a bit heavenly with the tone of the piece, and then the truck is like, "okay it's more down to earth."  But the wheels as cinderblocks hits hard as an image -- there's implications of poverty or class here.  And with the last setnence of the stanza, "Answer my bones, just as you would my driveway, with bindweed" feels more of a play on terminology -- bindweed -- both the literal and the metaphorical binding.

The third stanza is the opposite of the second where the images ascend, "By brake light, I break glass on the wrong side / of your sound walls. I read the pyro's creed / from a matchbook, and make my church once more [..]"  There's a sense of religious neurosis with first the glass on the wrong side and the sound walls, but the the ascendance of "pyro's creed" which in turn into a church.  There's a bit of a mocking tone here, but it makes me wonder if it is or is the last stanza a mocking tone and this the serious tone.  For me, the second stanza and the third cannot have the same tone.  Well they can but not the way I see it.  The second stanza stanza seems serious, a bit more down to earth.  The third stanza seems more sarcastic with finding the creed on a match book and the church as a gas can which then leads to the frustrated tone with the question, "I'll ask again -- how many / streetlights has my faith avenged?"

The streetlights take an antagonistic role.  It seems like the speaker wants the lights out, "Flicker once, / if you can't hear me."  The idea of flickering is the slight hope of something there meanwhile, "Flicker off if you can." is absolute -- the lights out -- the faith avenged.

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