Thursday, April 30, 2015

Elizabeth Lash on Kimberlee Smith's "The End of Fun and Games"

I met Five-Two contributor Elizabeth Lash earlier this month at Noir at the Bar NYC. Finding her feedback on the readings insightful, I invited her to comment on this year's 30 Days of The Five-Two. She sent in the following about the tour-ending poem. —Gerald So

The nerve endings in my body tingled, and my hair stood on end by the time I finished reading "The End of Fun and Games". It was an experience only heightened by the emotional distance the poet took from her subject—that of her younger self experiencing the death of a classmate.

What I loved about this poem is that Smith uses certain details both to strip away artificial sweetness and to recall the reader's youth—a factory behind which she and her classmates smoke smells not only of candy, but also of pollution; the color of her dead classmate's eyes are the color of "peppermint schnapps." Smith references The Sound of Music ("Sixteen Going on Seventeen") while reminding us that life there is no "Taylor Swift" song—what should be adolescent joy at that age is instead only anguish. Even the metaphor of the "exploded copper stars" reflects a violent destruction of innocence, seemingly representing not only his dried, spattered blood but also his achievements--no more stars ever to be awarded.

One knows definitively, by the end of the poem, that all goodness and innocence have been destroyed in this town, leaving no avenue except to escape. The description of hallucinogens as stamps seems particularly poignant: some choose to send their souls away temporarily, while others have chosen it as a final solution.

—Elizabeth Lash

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