Dead Shark on the N Train by Susana H. Case
Dead Shark on the N Train, a new collection of poetry by Susana H. Case, exemplifies the immense change in the style of writing poetry. The poet has divided the collection among three contrasting sections named as Living Dolls, Crime Scenes, and Storm Clouds. The poet has written all three sections in a style to enable the euphoria of the reader not to be broken. It wouldn’t have been facile for the poet to manage such drastic mood changes but astoundingly the poet is able to captivate the reader. All the poems have been written ardently which can be figured out very well by a bibliophile.Amazon USA
Dead Shark on the N Train, a new collection of poetry by Susana H. Case, exemplifies the immense change in the style of writing poetry. The poet has divided the collection among three contrasting sections named as Living Dolls, Crime Scenes, and Storm Clouds. The poet has written all three sections in a style to enable the euphoria of the reader not to be broken. It wouldn’t have been facile for the poet to manage such drastic mood changes but astoundingly the poet is able to captivate the reader. All the poems have been written ardently which can be figured out very well by a bibliophile.
The opening poems of Living Dolls reveal a true nature of simplicity in human behaviour. The common occurrence and traits found among different societies and cultures have been composed in a well-sophisticated way. The first poem JHS 190, from Living Dolls, tells readers about a girl named Gilda, who is especially fond of ballet and is envied by each white girl.
While we’re all watching Gilda shimmy,
her blond hair loosening from its dancer’s knot,
the girl from France is on the roof,
working up the will to jump
These lines create a mournful ambience which typically raises a question, “Why is she doing so?”. Well, the secrecy has not been maintained so far because as I went on, I read these lines, “How could she not have known, we whisper as if we know something” which astonished me as the taunts given by ‘we’ (people) were the cause that Gilda was on the roof. The poet has commented on those people in a delightful manner by the dint of these words, “we whisper as if we know something”. The poem in its outskirts deals with some harsh and unacceptable truths which are deeply rested in the society. Moreover, Gilda was saved by a policeman which is an elated moment for the readers.
Our bodies are bribes, the need,
carried in our book bags, to get the best boys.
The termination of the poem comes with a twinge as the lines discussed above again take the readers into a real-world where a female body is considered as a bribe to get the perfect man for their life.
Case’s fresh individuality leads us to worlds of wonder, contrived facts, which delights us in earthy pleasures with a philosophical twist. Case has the power to reveal the most delicate outward manifestations of the emotion of love.
As I turned few more pages, I read poems of Crime Scenes, the poems are written about the crime scenes made in the 1940s and 1950s and used for teaching criminal investigation by Frances Glessner Lee, creator of the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. The poems take the readers on a miserable ride of rollercoaster, there are ups and downs, where most of the poems throw light on the charming life of those people who were murdered brutally as well as on their unexpected dead life. The terror, gruesome, and pain has been fittingly described in the poems, one could even feel it if not read in haste.
Running on Empty
Would he have wanted to dance?
I saved my dancing shoes.
It’s too late to dance.
These lines depict the immense craving of the woman whose husband has died hanging out of his garaged car. Instead of crying and doing panic, his wife is thinking about her graceful dance which she could have done with his husband, with the hope that her husband would have wanted to dance. Each and every word blotted on the paper of this poem penetrates my heart as if an arrow is shot by Apollo the God of archery. Unfortunately, his wife had to convince herself that it’s too late to dance and there is nothing that she could do to save her husband.
Moving with a heavy heart, Storm Clouds, the last pile of poems, again vigoured me as till then I knew that Case is cathartic, that is, it has the power of purging and thus easing us of some of the pain and suffering which are lot of us all in this world. Compare to the exceptionally tragic life of the characters of poems our own sufferings begin to appear to us little and insignificant. All the poems are truly cathartic, as it purges the readers of the emotions of self-pity and terror.
This remarkable poetry collection, Dead Shark on the N Train, has a poem with the same exact name which made me ecstatic and that’s all which makes this poem as well as cynosure for all the readers.
Thus, refraining from quoting these lines from this wonderful poem was inescapable.
Dead Shark on the N Train
Poor brown fish,
beached at Coney Island,
then carried in someone’s arms to the roller coaster
where another man thought it beautiful
and tried to transport it home,
only to abandon it on the subway,
and you know how it is
in New York City—nothing
What an elegant and wide way of thinking! The lines mentioned above extract out a basic concept that some human beings maltreat other disabled living creatures just to amuse themselves. That poor brown fish was beached peacefully but she was doomed so had an egregious ride with some people and at a point, a man abandoned it in a subway car where no one would be astonished because “in New York City—nothing surprises anyone”. Treating fish or any other animal materialistically is a true sin and that’s a message which Case wants to give through the following lines. With the concluding lines of the poem, the poet has compared herself with the beached brown fish (shark) who travels and migrates herself freely same goes for the poet who didn’t want to be at the place from where she started at the end of her lifespan.
Case’s tragedies in poems are not depressing. They elevate, ennoble, and exalt us. Her poems reveal the dignity and human endeavour of a human over the power of evil, which is ultimately defeated and sometimes creates an open end.