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Poetry Classroom: Immolation


Icarus Poem photo by Sean McGrath

Over the next few weeks of Poetry Classroom, we’ll share poems from Anne M. Doe Overstreet (the teacher of our upcoming 2013 Poetry Workshop). You are invited to discuss the poems—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of Anne and each other, and write your own poems along the way.


As the horizon looms, flips over to present
an endless span of waves, I give up, surrender.
My fate’s the fate of falling. I guess I hoped for recognition,
that when I pushed my arms into the hostile sun
he would look up and see my face, the frame
of limb so like his lover, perhaps invoke my name.

I imagine women fainting at the thought
of this lovely form’s ravagement, the taint
of char hot enough to warp a wooden strut,
melt wax, and singe. But Daedelus flies on.
The body will soften momentarily, pliable if heavy,
finding shape hours later, so I devise my final self.

The scent surely travels downwind
in the contrail of smoke he, at least, could see.
I thought he’d catch me; if nothing else
to save the contraption with its maze
of gears and levered joints. I counted on,
I understood, he loved the thing.

Photo by Sean McGrath, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Poem by Anne M. Doe Overstreet, author of Delicate Machinery Suspended.

Check out the upcoming Poetry Workshop 2013 today. Begins February 18th.

Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In January we’re exploring the theme Coffee and Tea.

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Your Comments

12 Comments so far

  1. I am not “working” today. I wanted to write something, so I came here. I always come here to find inspiration. Now all I want to do is read this poem over and over. I want to strap on wings and feel the heat. The powerful images and language pull me to it, just like the sun pulls Daedelus. Recognition. Realization can be a painful process, deadly if we accept it as fate. Deadly if we isolate ourselves from others. Beautiful piece.

    • Anne Doe-Overstreet says:

      Thank you Lexanne. I find I always wanted to believe that Icarus somehow survived, despite the fall and the realization that Daedelus loved his invention more than his son. I keep playing around with that idea.

  2. I read, re-read, and find myself getting into the gears and shafts and workings on this piece. There is such strength and power in its poetic structure, it feels like the hemming in of a labyrinth indeed. I cannot wander around here, I have to walk my eyes and mind through it, mechanically. The labyrinth of the words holds me tight. Amazing poetry. And she is off again to walk the labyrinth to see what she will glean this go round.

    • “My fate’s the fate of falling” love this and this seems like the beat of the metronome of the piece.

      • Anne Doe-Overstreet says:

        In my mind I hear sort of a mechanical wingbeat; something wooden, something feathered, something canvas. Have you done any writing in form? I haven’t mastered the formal structures by any means, but I have found that when I’m stuck, sometimes trying to frame it in a more formal meter/rhyme scheme answers questions of where it’s going for me. Not sure why, but it does. Though I almost always revert to the blank or free verse form as I finish.

  3. Anne Doe-Overstreet says:

    And Sean’s photo seems a perfect fit to me. Just the sort of look I’d imagine Icarus, surviving and current, would have.

    • L. L. Barkat says:

      Anne, so glad you like the photo I paired with it. And it seems to go with what Lexanne said… about realization being a painful process.

      And in the photo… one wonders… if he will lift his head. Or keep it bowed to a deadly fate.

  4. Jon Lewis says:

    I really liked this one. I love a poem that immediately inspires me to write something myself. Its like having a conversation with the author.

    God is blind to me
    As I sweep across his face
    I had thought…
    I had thought if I could
    touch his face
    He would finally see me
    Finally recognize me
    Know me
    In that knowing
    I would finally know him
    But no
    god is not there
    any more than he is in
    the fire I used to melt the wax,
    to harden the wood
    to fashion the wings that
    would carry me to him

  5. Anne Doe-Overstreet says:

    Oh I quite like that, Jon.

  6. Anne Doe-Overstreet says:

    And if we were already in the classroom, I would applaud the poet here for nailing the tone of the piece. I especially like the break in the flow of the language around just/touch his face. Can’t you hear the catch in the throat? And the ending… it could hae been pat, or predictable, but the reader has to pause and revisit the idea of fire, as both destructive, untouchable, and necessary, at least for this creation. It opens the poem up, rather than wrapping it up neatly in a bow. Lovely. (And hard to do.)

    • Jon Lewis says:

      I think I should reverse two of the lines the wood and the wax.

      the fire I used to harden the wood,
      to melt the wax,
      to fashion the wings that
      would carry me to him

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