Monday, November 28, 2011

CA Conrad

Frank ate clear around
the sleeping worm
of the apple

"any life saved in this place
is magic" Frank said
"it's life coming back to you"

This short, untitled poem is from a collection called The Book of Frank, comprised of many untitled, less-than-a-page-long poems revolving around a sexless, gender-less persona, Frank.

This poem has a haiku-like, imagistic clarity at the start. The reader is offered a glimpse of a specific situation; the lines are precise, almost uncomfortable in their handling of the situation as inherent or normal. (The worm is of the apple.) Then the speaker provides an aphoristic quotation, at first seemingly unrelated to the image which preceded it. The delay in connection amplifies the impact. Plus the ambiguity of the aphorism (Is the saving of life the preservation of the worm by the apple and its hibernation inside it or the sparing of its life by the human's careful eating?) allows the short poem to move beyond its limitations. The content and organization of the poem as well as its almost inextricable place within a larger work violates expectation. What sort of poem is this, one may ask. Certainly steeped in traditions of Japanese poetry, American imagism, and English epigrammatic verse, it is simultaneously outside these genres. Is this reverent emulation or something else? How sincere is the poem, given its positioning as part of The Book of Frank within literary history?

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