part b

poetry Analysis
Wanda Why Aren’t You Dead
By Wanda Coleman
wanda when are you gonna wear your hair down
wanda. that’s a whore’s name
wanda why ain’t you rich
wanda you know no man in his right mind want a
ready-made family
why don’t you lose weight
wanda why are you so angry
how come your feet are so goddamn big
can’t you afford to move out of this hell hole
if i were you were you were you
wanda what is it like being black
i hear you don’t like black men
tell me you’re ac/dc. tell me you’re a nympho. tell me you’re
into chains
wanda i don’t think you really mean that
you’re joking. girl, you crazy
wanda what makes you so angry
wanda i think you need this
wanda you have no humor in you you too serious
wanda i didn’t know i was hurting you
that was an accident
wanda i know what you’re thinking
wanda i don’t think they’ll take that off of you
wanda why are you so angry
i’m sorry i didn’t remember that that that
that that that was so important to you
wanda you’re ALWAYS on the attack
wanda wanda wanda i wonder
why ain’t you dead
The Triumph of Death
These watches. Ticking, still. Each hour is cold:
the rims surround quick voices. Shut in rooms.
Gone.Tick.The towers.Tock.A fold
in air. We’re smoke, drifting. A painted doom
where cities burn and ships go down. Death’s
dark sky – a grainy docudrama. Time
swings bones on circus wheels. Listen: wind’s breath,
a shriek.Theatrum Mundi.In their prime,
the living. Leapt. That buckling of the knees.
Then gunshots: plastic bags on fences. Snapping.
Or loose.Thank you – shop – at.The lovers see
nothing. He plays a lute. She sings. Clapping –
machines sift through debris for the remains.
A sales receipt, a shoe. The silvery rain.
Danusha Laméris
Out here, we read everything as a sign.
The coyote in its scruffed coat,
bending to eat a broken persimmon on the ground.
The mess of crows that fills the apple tree,
makes a racket, lifts off.
In between, quiet.
The winter fog is a blank.
I wish I could make sense
of the child’s empty bed,
the bullet hole through my brother’s heart.
The mailman drops a package
on the front stoop and the neighbor’s dog
won’t stop barking. I tread
down the stairs, lightly.
Because we can’t know
what comes next, we say,
The plum tree is blooming early.
There are buck antlers lying in the grass.
A mountain lion left its footprints by the bridge.
A Color of the Sky
Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
when you pass through clumps of wood
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.
I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.
Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,
the very tint of inexperience.
Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
in big black spraypaint letters,
which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.
Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.
What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.
Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;
overflowing with blossomfoam,
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,
dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,
so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
Tickling the Scar” by Matthew Hollett
In spring the ice on the Lachine Canal melts
into algae blooms and great blue herons. Grackles
and red-winged blackbirds warble urgent duets
with distant ambulances. Thousands of Montrealers
are drowning in their beds. I walk the canal
because I’m grateful to breathe, even through a mask,
and because it feels spacious. Less petri dish. Along the path,
freshly-dredged jumbles of crossbars and wheels
are so consumed by zebra mussels that you can barely tell
they used to be bicycles. A survivor of the virus describes
feeling as though a bag of rice was being dropped on her chest
every time she took a breath. Seagulls drop bivalve shells
on the canal’s concrete walls, where they split open
into pairs of tiny desiccated lungs.Whenever I see a single one,
I imagine its partner coughed up on the opposite side of the water.
There are nursing homes where staff have deserted en masse.
A man takes a job at one because it’s the only way
to be with his father. He sobs when describing to a reporter
“the stench of urine, feces and disinfectant.” A rainbow
is painted over its front entrance. At CHSLD Herron,
a relief nurse finds ninety-year-olds so dehydrated
they’re unable to speak, “with urine bags full to bursting.”
They bring the army in, repurpose refrigerated trucks
as morgues. Songbirds build nests with discarded masks.
I think of walking the canal astickling the scar.
Tracing a fault line between “before” and “normal.”
There was a lake here, before it was torn
into an industrial corridor. A long blue lung.
It’s slowly healing over. You can sit on the grass
and watch herons stitch it back together
while your phone shows you horror after horror.
They’re reopening the restaurants tomorrow.
In Part B, you will be asked to summarize and analyze each poem (summarize the meaning of the poem, identify 2-3 literary devices, deep analysis).
· “Wanda, Why Aren’t You Dead” by Wanda Coleman
· “The Triumph of Death” by Anne Simpson
· “Omens” by Danusha Lameris
· “A Color of the Sky” by Tony Hoagland
· “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes
· “Tickling the Scar” by Matthew Hollett

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