October 23, 2009

Poetry Friday--What Happens Next

I was browsing through a book by Alison Hawthorne Deming called Genius Loci (Penguin Books, 2005) and came across a short poem that I found intriguing.

Burned and wounded
he turns from her.
He is a god
and does not know
pain though now he
feels it where the
hot oil of her
lamp has spilled at
the juncture where
his wings begin
to bud and fledge.
It's the title that hooked me. There is no question mark. Is the wounding what happened next? If so, the reader is free to imagine what came before to bring it about--was it accidental or intentional? Or, should the reader speculate what will happen next? Will He remain earthbound since his wings are damaged, or will they heal allowing him to fly away from Her? So many possibilities! I like being able to construct a whole story from what we are given in these 41 words.

Another poem, "New Shoes, 1939," also invites the reader to speculate. It is evident from the opening lines that there is ambiguity ahead.
Is that a receipt
or a love note folded
on the open box?
Look for Genius Loci--there is more waiting to be discovered!

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Big A little a.


  1. I love that a reader "finishes" a piece of writing by bringing his own frame of reference to speculate on what happens next. I'm sure it's a love note in the second poem :)!

  2. Interesting...I think he was wounded (we get to decide why) and that this poem shows what happens next. Love that each reader can decide for herself, though.