Monday, November 07, 2005

Dee Cohen in pith

One reason I write this blog is to encourage poetry lovers to read poetry. Sounds redundant, but the truth is that a lot of aspiring poets don't read much poetry at all. Thanks to the internet, it is incredibly easy to find remarkable poetry without spending a dime. There are many good online poetry journals; pith is one of them.

I love this poem by Dee Cohen in pith in the Spring 2001 issue--the imagery is stark and threatening despite its commonplace setting.


LAST NIGHT

Last night waits in the kitchen.
Skillet still on the stove
and pan tipped into the sink,
blood drained to the bottom.
A drawer pulled open,
forks, spoons and knives
pitched forward.
Plates on the table,
unscraped, unstacked.
Chairs shoved back,
garbage can toppled,
grounds and rinds and bones
spill from its mouth.
The back door stands open,
the driveway is empty.

The morning sun bangs
on the windows,
the floor tiles buckle
and tilt
and you grab for the counter
like someone on a small ship
in a big ocean.

Dee Cohen


Sounds like someone has a hangover. There is a sinister mood to this poem--"blood drained" into the sink, a cutlery drawer left open, "grounds and rinds and bones" spilling from the "mouth" of the trash can, the deserted driveway. It sounds as if a monster has smashed through the kitchen, devouring people along the way.

I would guess this is the after-effects of a party seen through the eyes of a very hung-over host. "Last night waits" to be dealt with; no matter how much fun they had at the feast, someone has to clean up the mess. What was delectable only a few hours ago now seems nauseating and threatening. The host has been abandoned by the guests, and no matter how sick, s/he must face the damage alone.

9 comments:

T L Reynolds said...

The interesting thing about this poem is that everything is passive until the last few lines. The first thing that takes action is the sun, and it seems as if the actions that follow are a result of its banging...

Danny said...

What comes afterwards are realities to grapple, life to gather and put into order after the "feast" of intoxicating success or fleeting happiness, and it is still a long journey "in a big ocean..."

David E. Patton said...

This is a very good poem

Patry Francis said...

I like the mystery of it. I feel like it's setting me up for a story, and then demands that I find it myself. Also liked the sun banging on the window. Yeah, that could be a hangover.

MB said...

What a rich, yet mysterious poem.

The interesting thing to me is that there is no allusion at all to drinking. It sounds like an orgy of eating took place, perhaps. Yet there is definitely a vertiginous morning-after effect. Is that a result of being overwhelmed by the clean-up, over-stimulated, or a hangover? Patry's right, the sun banging on the window does sound like a hangover.

And then there's the line of mystery: the driveway is empty? No car at all? Who's left at home, then?

I want another set of clues! (I could envision this as part of a series, but I don't suppose she wrote one.)

MB said...

Oh and, Amy, thanks for the introduction to pith.

garnet david said...

definately a hangover poem, especially with the motion sickness at the end. I can imagine the room appearing threatening and violent with a pounding headache.

garnet david said...

How did you know I don't read much poetry. It's not even the money. I just spend so much time reading it on here I don't want to see another poem. I'll give pith a try. thanks.
warmly,
G

Jackal said...

Sounds like a wicked time was had.

This gives the idea of of the conflict of gay abandon and responsibility.