Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Poem, "A pillow in the city" by Patricia Spears Jones

I find this poem by Patricia Spears Jones very beautiful and potent. I love how Jones uses the pillow as a metaphor to reveal the tragedy of social inequality and the rage and despair that results from it. "A pillow" brings to mind another poem that uses metaphor very powerfully, "Yellowjackets" by Yusef Komunyakaa (posted below Jones' "A pillow").

Read both and compare the subtle methods each of these brilliant poets uses to illustrate, by focusing on the specific and the concrete, a deeper truth that transcends the specific and reaches into the vast arena of our humanity. Enjoy! 

A pillow in the city
by Patricia Spears Jones 

Ghostly falls from the fifteenth floor
Feathers leaking/ the pillow speaking

How the sleeper's nightly pounding
Made the pillow yelp and moan

Poor sleeper heard these comments
Angered threw said pillow into

An ugly summer night's air

The pillow had little choice
The sleeper's fists. The sleeper's mouth

Not kind, not soft, always angry
The sleeper always angry--even

Dreaming the sleeper could not
Stop rage, so the bed was a battlefield
The pillow, an enemy. And now

Said enemy slowly plunges towards
The courtyard deflated, a feral squirrel

Watches the fall, moves on towards
The overflowing garbage bins, nose open
Time to feast.

Copyright © 2013 by Patricia Spears Jones. Used with permission of the author.


When the plowblade struck   
An old stump hiding under   
The soil like a beggar’s   
Rotten tooth, they swarmed up   
& Mister Jackson left the plow   
Wedged like a whaler’s harpoon.   
The horse was midnight   
Against dusk, tethered to somebody’s   
Pocketwatch.  He shivered, but not   
The way women shook their heads   
Before mirrors at the five   
& dime—a deeper connection   
To the low field’s evening star.   
He stood there, in tracechains,   
Lathered in froth, just   
Stopped by a great, goofy   
Calmness.  He whinnied   
Once, & then the whole   
Beautiful, blue-black sky   
Fell on his back.
Poem copyright ©2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa, reprinted from “Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999,” Wesleyan Univ. Press, 2001, by permission.