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Reflect on the class’s shared reading of “Tiara” and “Making a Fist.” What ideas stand out to you from the comments?
What poetic techniques are the poets employing? What are the effects of those techniques?
Please write 1-2 paragraphs for each poem.
Label your response with the title of the poem you are discussing.
Peter died in a paper tiara
cut from a book of princess paper dolls;
he loved royalty, sashes
and jewels. I don’t know,
he said, when he woke in the hospice,
I was watching the Bette Davis film festival
on Channel 57 and then—
At the wake, the tension broke
when someone guessed
the casket closed because
he was in there in a big wig
and heels, and someone said,
You know he’s always late,
he probably isn’t here yet—
he’s still fixing his makeup.
And someone said he asked for it.
Asked for it—
when all he did was go down
into the salt tide
of wanting as much as he wanted,
giving himself over so drunk
or stoned it almost didn’t matter who,
though they were beautiful,
stampeding into him in the simple,
ravishing music of their hurry.
I think heaven is perfect stasis
poised over the realms of desire,
where dreaming and waking men lie
on the grass while wet horses
roam among them, huge fragments
of the music we die into
in the body’s paradise.
Sometimes we wake not knowing
how we came to lie here,
or who has crowned us with these temporary,
precious stones. And given
the world’s perfectly turned shoulders,
the deep hollows blued by longing,
given the irreplaceable silk
of horses rippling in orchards,
fruit thundering and chiming down,
given the ordinary marvels of form
and gravity, what could he do,
what could any of us ever do
but ask for it.
MAKING A FIST
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
“When you can no longer make a fist.”
Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.