Kimberly Johnson

Big Finish
June 9, 2013 Johnson Kimberly

Big Finish

 

Now that the last shaft of sunset has collapsedhttp://plumepoetry.brownrice.com/2013/06/big-finish/?preview=true

into that rubble of cloud, let’s dust off

and see how bright the stars are, the disclosed

vault spinning like a discoball been drilled

smack into Polaris. My oracle’s

a bullhorn for the endtimes, portending

wars and rumors of wars in the stars’ course

headlong through the heavens. And even though

the astrophysicists as in chorus

to the oracle declare that all this sparkle,

every spectacular atom of it,

is a death, the expired light of bodies

that have burned themselves down to nothing,

yet they are so bright, and shimmery,

and to shimmy seems their light to me,

sequins tilting into a spotlight.

Don’t they move like jubilation on their wheel?

And don’t they flash with brash abandon?

And if finally they should quit their spheres

and fall upon us, their apocalypse

will surely seem a shower not of wormwood

but confetti, gleeful streaking

down the sackcloth dark to pronounce our doom

a wop bop a loo-bop, a wop-bam-boom.

Kimberly Johnson, renaissance scholar, translator of ancient Greek and Latin, and prize-winning poet, exegetes the syntactical strategies and etymology of William Butler Yeats’ “Politics” and Emily Dickinson’s #124 (“Safe in their Alabaster Chambers”) in her brilliant essay, “Reading and Writing Outside Thebes: In Praise of Syntax .” “Syntax, denoting the order and arrangement of words,” Johnson notes,  “is derived from the Greek prefix συν-, meaning “together,” and τάσσω, which broadly indicates the act of arranging (think “taxidermy”: an arrangement of skin; or “taxonomy”: an arrangement of objects by name) but chiefly and specifically denotes the drawing up of troops into a battle array, or the mustering of military forces into strategic arrangement.”  In her incisive analysis of Yeats’ and Dickinson’s  syntactical mustering of words and phrases in “Politics” and “124,” Johnson reveals the verbal genius behind the word placement in these two poems and the critical role word order plays in succeeding to stage meaning, tone, and irony in their verbal presentation and “maneuvers.”