A Whittenberg, Watching Jordan’s Fall

Rosemary Bailey, Acrylic 1


Watching Jordan’s Fall

. . . God, I hate November
All the hope I had hoped
Against hope for Jordan.

Dad beat Jordan, to
Straighten him out, to show
Jordan, to silence him.

My brother lived until the next
Season, onto the next winter,
Very quiet like a fallen leaf.

A Wittenberg


Review by David Mehler

In “Watching Jordan’s Fall,” which is aphoristically brief and minimalist, so much is packed into the nine lines, it leaves me amazed—and the repetition! In stanza one, hope appears three times, in stanza two, Jordan appears twice, and again in stanza three as “brother,” all leading up to the final image of the brother culminating from the title’s subtle suggestion as a “fallen leaf.” This type of condensation is impressive. “All the hope I had hoped / Against hope for Jordan.”  The second stanza offers the psychological portrait of the father and the three reasons he beats the son: to straighten out, show him, and silence him.

Anyone who’s read Homer, or Shelley referencing Homer in “Ode to the Westwind,” and perhaps a multitude of poets east and west, should have seen the comparison evoking the ephemerality of life and souls as a blowing/falling leaf should have seen this coming, but I did not.


Review by Jared Pearce

The drama in the poem is desperate and wonderful.  What I find most interesting is the ellipses at the beginning of the poem.  Should some tension be set between the title and the first line, or is the ellipses showing the poem is a response to a question or a continuation of what came before?  If the latter, is the consideration of the poem, then, the more terrible because it drags all of us to Jordan’s and the speaker’s tragedy by helping us all relive that tragedy yet again this year, before we tuck into our turkey and pie, as we watch the fall leaves descend?  Ellipses can be tricky little triggers, and I think this one is well set.

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