I’m going to go way of script with this poem and talk about its meter because it’s a very fun poem to recite out loud, especially if you do it without pausing at the end of each line. I count 16 beats in this poem when I read it and it flows out like “Lava” flowing quickly from the “crater” and gives the poem an almost jump-rope beat, the way kids would sing rhyme a poem. It’s very fun.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading about Emily’s home life and how she spent most her of day working in the kitchen, or in the garden, or doing numerous domestic duties, that made me think that when she read that Vesuvius had erupted yet again, that she composed this poem as a fun way to pass the time.
The way I read the poem is like this:
Volcanoes be in Sicily And South America I judge from my Geography Volcanoes nearer here A Lava step at any time Am I inclined to climb A Crater I may contemplate Vesuvius at Home
I thought of reading it this way because the poem (in both versions) does not contain any dashes, it just reads as a straight run, so when you get to the end of the poem you can start again and keep repeating it – which is why I thought of kids jumping rope and singing rhymes for the beat. And so I imagined her in the kitchen, perhaps mixing something in bowls or on the stove and it bubbles over and reminds her of the eruption and so she stirs to the beat of this poem over and over again.
I know this is a total stretch of the imagination and that I’m not really talking about the poem’s content, but there is such a rhythm to it that it’s impossible for me not to hear it and have fun reciting it over and over again.
I never thought about how a drug overdose (such as his sister on PCP) could look a lot like a demonic possession – and, in fact, I guess that’s exactly what it is, a demon in the form of the drugs. But demons don’t just jump into you uninvited, they’re like vampires, they gotta be invited in.
The eczema is interesting in that it’s like he trying to scratch his own skin off, as if he’s uncomfortable in his own Indian and white skin, as if one is trying to get out or one is trying to be dominant or both are at war with each other.
I wonder if the story of his dad is from the author’s father or from personal experience? Something about it feels a little more personal that other moments in the novel – maybe it’s because his father is 1000% Indian and proud of it and other than his bad knees seems to be otherwise free of the issues all the other characters in the book struggle with, like he’s the “perfect” Indian nobody else can live up to.
I like how he thinks of his limp as an act of subversion against the upright citizens who he walks among, invisible because he’s Indian and a janitor. I think this is also a buried pun in that he walks to the beat of different drummer (Ha ha, Mr. Orange, you can’t hide your puns for me!)
Funny connection between using hair spray and the 2nd coming of revelations. I bet John of Patmos never considered his vision might come true not because of some grandiose calamity, but because we were all too concerned with the shape of our hair.
“Voice can take a long time to come all the way out, brother”. Good line, especially in relation to the traditional drumming. He’s comfortable with the beat (even uses the word “triumph” but to add his own voice to it, to personalize the drumming with himself, to be something more than a beat is harder to do, it’s harder to speak up and not be silent.
James Hampton’s Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly sure is quite something. It actually makes me incredibly uncomfortable to look at for some reason – maybe it’s the color or how its ornateness is almost fungal.
As a drummer I can relate to the need to always be finding a beat in everything, though it never occurred to me to also hear it in “gunshots and backfire, the howl of trains at night, the wind against your windows”. I wonder if what he’s saying here is that there is a rhythm that’s there for everyone to hear, not just a few people, but maybe we’ve forgotten how to listen?
The rich people paying to listen to women scream probably would have sounded like fiction before that Epstein guy was busted and now it seems like a substantial percentage of very wealthy people in the real world are more fucking depraved than we realized. And in this example it’s not a race thing, it’s a class thing, and everyone, white, black, Indian, Latino are in it together against the rich.
It wouldn’t drama if none of the characters had flaws, but it feels like everyone is either an abuser or damaged with only maybe Dene being the least scared. And it can be a lot to take, reading about pretty much every female character abused and or raped, everyone on some sort of drug or escapist fantasy, and nobody really happy. Is this any more authentic than what the characters are fighting against?