Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Sweetheart, Put Down Your Flamethrower"



The Poetry Unit continues. Thanks to all who have made suggestions for poems for Shackleton. I have incorporated a bunch of limericks (all G-rated)and lots of other good stuff that has been recommended by commenters. I have been compiling all my favorite finds for Shackleton, becoming something of an editor of poems for kids, or at least readable by them. After this post, I'll shut up about it, I promise, but one last bit of sharing before we leave the topic.

Here's a poem by Lawrence Raab that I read long, long ago in undergraduate days. It appealed to me then because its funny and creepy and profound all at the same time. I reread it tonight, aloud to the kids and I think I like more now than I did 25 years ago. It sounds great read aloud - you might want to try it a few times yourselves and then ponder that last question.

Attack of the Crab Monsters

Even from the beach I could sense it--
lack of welcome, lack of abiding life,
like something in the air, a certain
lack of sound. Yesterday
there was a mountain out there.
Now it's gone. And look
at this radio, each tube neatly
sliced in half. Blow the place up!
That was my advice.
But after the storm and the earthquake,
after the tactic of the exploding plane
and the strategy of the sinking boat, it looked

like fate and I wanted to say, "Don't you see?
So what if you are a famous biochemist!
Lost with all hands is an old story."
Sure, we're on the edge
of an important breakthrough, everyone
hearing voices, everyone falling

into caves, and you're out
wandering through the jungle
in the middle of the night in your negligèe.
Yes, we're way out there
on the edge of science, while the rest
of the island continues to disappear until

nothing's left except this
cliff in the middle of the ocean,
and you, in your bathing suit,
crouched behind the scuba tanks.
I'd like to tell you
not to be afraid, but I've lost

my voice. I'm not used to all these
legs, these claws, these feelers.
It's the old story, predictable
as fallout--the rearrangement of molecules.
And everyone is surprised
and no one understands

why each man tries to kill
the thing he loves, when the change
comes over him. So now you know
what I never found the time to say.
Sweetheart, put down your flamethrower.
You know I always loved you.


--by Lawrence Raab

3 comments:

R. Sherman said...

As it happens, the Official Elder Son's freshman Honors English Class is starting its poetry unit.

Joy.

I'm finding a pistol held the head is a good way to get him to put down the soccer magazine and hit the Wordsworth. (Evangeline, anyone?

Cheers.

J.G. said...

Glad to hear the limericks are working out. Finding G-rated ones must have been quite a challenge. (The one that comes to my mind first is the one about Nantucket, alas.)

This poem is a really interesting, hip choice. Thanks for sharing!

KSV Woolfoot said...

Hey R - I guess Missouri is the wild west... I'd love to know what he makes of "Evangeline". I don't think I ever read it.

Thanks J.G. I found a few that were clever and comprehensible by a nine year old. Unfortunately the only one I can recite has to do with that extraordinary man from Nantucket...