“Montage of Disasters” begins with an italicized query: “Where’s the eloquence in all this?” The question is followed by, as the title indicates, a montage of disasters—train wrecks, fires, earthquakes, bombs, viruses, biblical plagues, mutant spiders, and sinking ships. The poem is like a series of newsreels spliced together in a random fashion or a collage of cover stories from old newspapers, a few copies of The Star and The National Enquirer thrown in with The New York Times. The narrative begins with the train wreck: “The train lurched, shuddered, and snapped in two.” However, the train story is abandoned there, and other disconnected scenes follow: “No one knew for sure how the fire started./ Then the virus got into the milk supply.” As cataclysm is piled on cataclysm, the report becomes oddly and blackly humorous as reality merges with fiction and nightmare blends with horror story. After bombs destroy the zoo, setting the animals free, “grinning crocodiles new orphans watched/ slither into fountains by the ruined library.”
The poem begins in the third person. However, somewhere around the middle the first-person point of view finds its way into what was hitherto a report by an unidentified narrator: a meteorite is described as crashing through the window and turning “my side/ of the bed to a tidy pile of cinders.” Once the first person surfaces it remains until the end of the poem,...
(The entire section is 555 words.)