Emily O’Neill’s Comments
“Caught in Bruce’s Mouth”
This poem came from a loose series I’ve been working on about sharks for a few years. The first few poems were little fictions about sharks turning up in unexpected places. When I began drafting this poem, I was thinking about Spielberg’s Bruce as the ultimate in misplaced sharks. The first time I watched the movie was a bit misplaced as well. In writing, I wanted to capture that dislocation.
In the year following my father’s death, I spent a lot of time on public transportation, and most of my thoughts were addressed to him as letters. The poem came from these long, uninterrupted travel monologues, where I wrestled with what I had expected to come of our relationship in his middle age, and all the things I couldn’t know about how he had experienced the cities I was moving through on the train.
This poem is the matching book end to “Phone Call.” It takes a long time to write the story of why two people can want something so intensely and still be wrong in that want without blaming one party or another for the failure. When I was finally able to write this, the draft just fell out of me, nearly fully formed.
In a drawing class I took as a teenager, the teacher had us compose a still life using only the negative space. This poem was a similar exercise, where the surrounding circumstances served to carve out a space where the narrative of the poem might live.
Phone Call with the North End
I have a bad habit of falling for people who exist a great distance away from me, whether geographically or emotionally. When taken on their own terms, such odd circumstances have a special magic to them that can outlast even the most upsetting or untimely endings. In revising this poem, it was satisfying to author my uncertainty as an allowance rather than a loss.
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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 38 | Fall 2012