Sunday, April 21, 2013

BPR LIT TRIP 22 with Laura McCullough

The third week of National Poetry Month at The Steiny Road to Operadom blog ushered seven trips through the Birmingham Poetry Review volume 40 for close reads on poems concerned with words, poetry, and poets. Jehanne Dubrow’s “Milagro Umbrella Factory” focuses on the proper names for people and things. Nick McRae’s “Genesis” delves into the Christian belief that the world began with The Word from God. By way of killer whales interrupting the study of the declaimed arts, James May’s “’A Culture’” provides commentary on poetry via Samuel Johnson. David Wagoner’s “Poem” experiments with ways to define and animate poetry. David Kirby’s “The Poetry Reading” invites the audience inside the head of a poet giving a reading to a difficult audience. Dan O’Brien’s “The War Reporter Paul Watson on the Examination of Women” offers commentary from an Afghan poet as the war report scratches his head. Amanda Yskamp’s “A+” shows a rebellious young woman involved with language learning including correct spelling in the native tongue English and fluidity in the French language. In summation, the Steiny Road Poet has looked at poems on deathlove, and poetry.

Filled with pop culture and junk food woven into a pending blizzard, Laura McCullough’s “Holy” provides a wild transition between the BPR Lit Trip week emphasizing poetry and words to a work week of poems grounded in nature. In this fourteen-line not-a-sonnet poem, “Holy” is anything but sacred except, wait—in the last three lines the frantic narrator trying to prepare for the “snowpocalypse” by “laying up” duct tape, iced tea, Twinkies (remember those? How could you not, Dear Reader, given the recent storm over the possibility that the company that makes these sugared darlings was going out of business) and some cans of protein spies a crying neighbor who has just lost a loved one. Here are the last five lines of “Holy.”

Walk across the street, ring around the moon, some-
thing coming soon and it’s better than you, least
live that way. Neighbor crying on the porch, some-
one died today, see the snow, bon hiver, love,
goodbye and Snickers are all I got to share.

Is this McCullough commenting that our 21st century life that involves “social notworking” is so bereft of time and meaningful behavior that all the narrator can do is offer her wish for a good winter (bon hiver) and a candy bar? Maybe so, and for this narrator, her kids “in their beds; sky full of dread” with “no scholly” (try to type in scholly and the auto-correct will make it school) complicates her usual schedule that involves an uncooperative computer—“Sorry, autotext bopped/ erotic fumble, bobble that snap, snap that/ disc.” Well, is it a computer disc or a disc in the human back after shoveling snow?

McCullough’s “Holy” even with its onomatopoeia and nursery rhyme schema weighs in on the heavy side. It’s a poem that makes the Steiny Poet laugh and sigh with a heavy heart.

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