I’ve always loved the word apocalypse. Saying it engages most of the mouth. It ends with the tongue touching the teeth, the lips coming together and then being pushed open by the final p-sound. Like a kiss.
I nearly failed linguistics because I didn’t like the fussy nature of labeling sounds and movements of the mouth, but this word, apocalypse, is almost enough to make me wish I had tried a little harder.
Open Burning, more than a narrative of a divorce, is a landscape, a mental and emotional one. The poems themselves are mostly narrative, but the organization of the poems, the movement from one to the next, resists an overall narrative arc.
The reader and the speaker move together through a personal apocalypse. One that is sometime physical, but also emotional and psychological. What in reality is a divorce, in a dream is a Latin American film about two soldiers burying bodies as bombs begin to fall around them.
The titular poem, recasts the end of the world, which in this era would be swept up into the collective experience of shared online expereince, as something much more immediate and intimate. Yes, pandemic. Yes, nuclear war. Yes, climate catastrophe. Yes, ecosystem collapse. Yes, wildfires. Yes, even asteroids. But also, you and me. Or you and your son or daughter. Me and my daughter. Trying to survive. And that’s a completely different kind of apocalypse.