Monday, April 22, 2013

BPR LIT TRIP 23 with Jane Springer

Lit Trip 23 through the Birmingham Poetry Review volume 40 takes flight through Jane Springer’s  “Forties War Widows, Stolen Grain.” This concrete poem is cleverly organized on the page in the shape of a fighter plane in flight. As the poem opens, “For decades we’d witnessed dark murders,” the Steiny Road Poet first thought the murders referenced all the wars prior to World War II, but upon reading the next line “descend through crop-facing windows,” she realized the perpetrator was corporally in the war widows’ neighborhood and in fact, a murder of crows stealing grain from the fields. Just to be sure, Dear Reader, we are on the same page, a murder of crows is a large group of
crows flying together. The murders include the crows raiding the widows’ fields and possibly the widows, who take up their 12-gauge shotguns, killing some of the flying marauders.

What is more interesting than the widows dropping their household chores to chase away the black birds is the displaced anger, despair, and frustration the widows hint at relative to their missing husbands, who, unlike the crows, never come back. The poem is divided into two wings (or stanzas with indented lines) and two one-lined tails that are attached to the wings in the middle of the poem. Therefore wing one ends with this tail line: “12 gauges, shot the thieves.” Wing two begins with this tail line, “Someone has to clean up the.” In wing one stanza, the women leave their “eggs un-whisked from sheer anger” (could they un-whisked eggs allude to the babies never conceived?) allow their spatulas to melt and smoke in their skillets (the widows mirror this slow burn in their anger), scatter their presumably unpaid bills with their “elbow akimbo,” jam their pajama legs into galoshes (have they let themselves go, not bothering to get dressed for the day?), swear Christ Armageddon, allow their crouching cats access to their uncooked bacon (and who is bringing home the proverbial bacon?) while they wing open their door, fall to their knees to brace themselves for shooting their guns. Wing 2 is the aftermath and all that has to be cleaned up for this outburst of anger and to restore the kitchen Idyll—that is, until the next murder of crows appear.

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