Sunday, April 21, 2019

30 Great Poems for April, Day 21: “A Brief History of Mine” by Nancy Carol Moody

Read “A Brief History of Mine” in Cider Press Review here.

Nancy Carol Moody is an Oregon poet whose work often leaps between everyday language and surreal imagery, and this poem is a prime example. The first three lines are firmly rooted in the real world, but by the time we get to that fourth line—“a 70-mile-per-hour egg, and I am its yolk,” we feel this truck is no longer on the road we thought it was on. Or perhaps we ourselves are veering out of the truck.

And then the startling images of the “spinning tires carving ruts in my hair” and “skin peeling back” signal that the driver/speaker is fusing with the truck; now we have to wonder where the metaphor begins and ends. Suddenly there’s a sense of hallucinogenic expansion, a sharing of space and spirit. And then another image, this one a fascinating declaration: “I was the tire jack wrapped in cloth...” More fusing, more lines of identity crossing.

Eventually truck and everything in it are the speaker, hurtling through the night, and the night itself has also become something else. And by the end, Moody has even tossed in a word I could have sworn was made up (transpicuous: transparent; easily understood, lucid)—but, like the rest of the poem, it only seems unreal, walking a line between what we expect to see and what we don’t. Packed with Moody’s signature mix of playfulness and acerbic wit, this poem makes me want to take a whole workshop on “Self-portrait as a ______________.”

[All through April, I'm featuring a favorite poem every day, along with a link where you can read it. Some are classics, some are newer, but each one is the kind of poem that I read, love, and immediately want to tell all my friends about. What better to time to share them than National Poetry Month?]

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