Rat In A Coffee Can

Rat In A Coffee Can

Poet and professor, David Kirby, writing in Paste Magazine sounds as if he likes the poems of Beth Ann Fennelly, a Chicagoan now teaching at Ole Miss.

Beth Ann Fennelly’s best poems are as noisy as a rat in a coffee can: They twitch, scramble and all but turn themselves inside out on the page. A classier way to put it is that the poems are over-determined, like dreams. Freud observed that dreams have more than one cause, which is what makes them action-packed; the same is true for poetry. In Fennelly’s best work, you get an entire bookful of images in just a page or two.

With vivid language of this sort in a review, I had to find out more about Fennelly’s work. A few Google clicks in, I stumbled upon this poem from her new book Unmentionables:

from The Kudzu Chronicles – Oxford, Mississippi
by Beth Ann Fennelly

Kudzu sallies into the gully
like a man pulling up a chair
where a woman was happily dining alone.
Kudzu sees a field of cotton,
wants to be its better half.
Pities the red clay, leaps across
the color wheel to tourniquet.
Sees every glass half full,
pours itself in. Then over the brim.
Scribbles in every margin
with its green highlighter. Is begging
to be measured. Is pleased
to make acquaintance with
your garden, which it is pleased to name
Place Where I Am Not.
Yet. Breeds its own welcome mat.

Why fret
if all it wants
is to lay one heart—
shaped palm
on your sleeping back?

Why fright
when the ice
machine dumps its
armload of diamonds?