The Academy of American Poets' website has a poem-a-day feature that brings a new poem to your inbox every morning. Like Poetry Daily ( I mentioned earlier, the poem-a-day program is just another way to ensure, even on the busiest days, we take a brief break and read some poetry.

Usually, the poem does nothing more than make me say, "Nice," then I click delete and go on to search aimlessly at, a search engine that drops a few pennies in your favorite non-profit's piggy bank (check it out). Today though, Sarah Gambito's "Holiday" has grabbed my attention:

I want to lick someone

with an antelope for a head.

A whole-person-boxer for a fist.

Circulatory, fruited over

nostalgia to overcome me like

a truck I'll drive over his body

while he reaches for a

telephonic breast. The way gods

do when they create

the first animal cracker

steams of existence.

Fat plant and vernix.

The shattered cursive equations

my love was capable of.

I said there will never be a night like this

How is it I was right?

How fibrous and incidental it seems.

The tiny leather jackets we wore.

What was it about that quality that I admired?

Loping around like a christening polecat.

There is the poem in full. What a great opening line, "I want to lick someone," then topped by "with an antelope for a head." This poem does not waste time, and its stylistic force is surprise: I never had a clue about what might come next. Often this can be disorienting, or feel overwrought, but in "Holiday" it captures the essence of, well, holidays. But that isn't the whole story.

It also sneaks in love and regret, which is the poem's reason for existence (this might sound dramatic, but a good question to ask poems so disjointed and strange as "Holiday" is the question, Why was this written?).

Last comment about this poem concerns end-stopped and enjambed lines. Notice how heavily end-stopped the poem is towards the end, contrasting heavily with its quick beginning. This stylistic decision helps to emphasize the poem's theme at the end (love, desire), while still allowing all of its quirkiness, especially at the beginning. "Holiday" is an excellent example of modern poetry's use of surprise, abstraction, sonic play, and inability to remove itself (so often, it seems) from love/ love lost/ desire for love. Ah, fun stuff.

Well, Happy Holidays, everyone.

image source


meganveit | December 5, 2010 at 1:25 AM

"the first animal cracker/steams of existence." = outstanding. enjoy the pick & the pic of this post!

Melis | December 5, 2010 at 5:04 AM


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