Further Reading

I couldn’t find a link to Dorianne Laux’s poem “The Catch” (from her first book, Awake) so I’m including it below in its entirety. It’s a terrific example of how third person/objective can work in a poem, how point of view can act as a camera that’s never still but always in motion. Notice where the “camera” directs us to look, and how the focus changes as we move through the poem. 

The Catch 

Dorianne Laux

The film footage wavers

on the gray TV screen:

fistfuls of Marines flung

from a helicopter, a flower

suspended in air

dropping its bloom of pods. 

A row of khakied backs, the square-

shouldered shapes of men, knee-deep

in muck and raising rifles 

like fishing rods. 

There is the bitter smell of powder, 

of too much salt, as bodies, 

scooped from a trench, are flopped

like fish on a deck.

Here’s what is left

of a boy from Maryland, half a face

and his good right arm. The rest,

scattered on a hillside, his pink

testicles split against

the brain-gray rock. In his breast 

pocket, a snapshot, his girl 

in a bikini, her whole body sprawled

across the hood of a new Camaro.

She’s wet from the blue pool, shining

car keys dangling from her teeth like minnows.

“Men at Forty”

I have a list of ten favorite poems that I come back and back to and Donald Justice’s poem “Men at Forty” is near the top of that list. Note how the “Men at Forty” feel both observed but inhabited, too, through the specificity of detail, and how they would come off very differently had Justice chosen a first-person speaker, singular or plural.