Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Whole World Gets Together and Gangbangs a Deer

Text by Leon Wing
Poem by Patricia Lockwood

The Whole World Gets Together and Gangbangs a Deer

Bambi is fresh from the countryside. Bambi is fresh
and we want him on film. He doesn’t even know
how to kiss yet. “Lean in and part your lips,” we say, ...

This very short piece here is an excerpt from a much longer poem taken from a new collection "Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals" by Patricia Lockwood. This collection is the second from this young American poet, and her first for Penguin Books.

Even with just only three lines on show here, they look on the surface to be just a simple poem, a weird and incomprehensible one at that, about a countryside deer named Bambi, whom the whole world wants to put in a movie, a virgin who hasn't kissed before and who has to be taught how to (up to this point).

One could imagine the poet penning it in a dash, quickly and without any second thoughts over form or method. Well, you would think so, wouldn't you, with a title that doesn't look as though it means anything deeply poetic but is merely a shock tactic? These three lines alone will give you an indication of how the rest of the poem will read; and if so, you could easily just skim through the poem, thinking nothing much of it, and quickly turn to the next poem, without looking beneath the words, their significance. 

That deer in the title is Bambi, like that innocent deer character of the same name in the Disney cartoon. As Bambi is an animal, this hints at the term for a new recruit into an industry, the so called "fresh meat". Based on the sexual innuendo of the long title, it wouldn't be off the mark to guess at the sex industry, where you might come across some porn star named Bambi.   "fresh from the countryside" hints at the innocence and inexperience of someone entering the big bad world of the city. The name Bambi, in this case, applies so well here, as it is imbued with the sense of innocence as well as sexuality.

There is a purpose to the repetition of "Bambi is fresh", bounding the first line on opposite ends. Even though the rather long title is really quite telling, and it is very clear it is all about some violent act of sex, this is the only place where the poet says this explicitly. She doesn't do that inside the body of the poem, the stanza. Instead she utilises the repetition of those three words to allow a sense the insistence of the "bam" sound to mimick the violent wham banging act of sex. 

Besides those repeated plosives, you will also find a number of sibilant sounds in "fresh from", "..side" and, again, "fresh". Straddling these sounds is a solitary guttural "c" in country, and its stressed beat here rhymes with the unseen rude word for the female privates.

At the first line you think Bambi is some female character, but reading on to this second line that contains toned down or softened nasals and aspirants, you are surprised  - or confused - to learn that she is a "him".  But why a female name for a male? This could be hinting at some cross dressing, transgender or even gay element, who knows. And the sentence after the full stop underpins or confirms his innocence, his not knowing how to perform something. An enjambment happens at this point, to create a tension: What does he not know how to do?  The following line reveals that it is something as fundamental and as requisite to the sex act as a kiss.

This third and last line has a lot of softer sounds, making the harder ones like "kiss" and "part" stand out. "Kiss", with a hard and sharp guttural, reminds us of the unseen rudeness implicit in "country". The plosive in "part" is also hard and pointing back to the softer plosive of "Bambi", like a final part of an act, like an orgasm. Following the hard "p" in "part", the remaining sounds in "your lips,” we say, ..." go soft. And this acts like the relaxation after that orgasm.

I'm afraid I must only parse this poem up to the above three lines. If I take on the entire poem, this posting could run on and on, to several hundred words and more. If you really want to continue reading the rest of it, get Lockwood's book at the links below.


About Patricia Lockwood: She invented the "sext" poetic form and is notorious for her Twitter poems, gaining the title Poet Laureate of Twitter. In 2013 her prose poem "Rape Joke" went viral and gained the attention of The Guardian, who said it "casually reawakened a generation's interest in poetry." and of The Poetry Foundation who declared her poem "world famous."  She got into The Best American Poetry 2014 and won a Pushcart Prize.

Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals is available from Google Play BooksAmazon,and Kobo.

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