Been talking a lot with my students about expectations, of ways of subverting them and surprising the reader, especially through titles. The poem below is a good example.
When I first read Jeremy Schmidt’s “Stafford Loan” earlier this year, I read the title and expected a strident commentary on the plight of being young and going through the (oft times burdened) motions of getting an education. And the poem delivers just that – only not how you expect. Through the image of a deer in an unexpected place, the poem goes on to take the connotations of the title to an unexpected place, becoming an allegory for a societal circumstance.
Stafford Loan – Jeremy Schmidt
Approaching through the mist I spot a deer;
unstartled, at the border of Schoodic Park
and the nearest private lot.
Normally I’d challenge her to a contest
or snap a picture with my phone,
but it’s been an awfully tough day and she
appears in good spirits, full-bodied,
of sound mind, etc. So I think it best to roll
over and stiffen: to wait, lying down,
for her to approach slowly, curiously, ever less
cautiously until she’s feet away, lured
by the smell of cashews in my palm,
until she’s practically astride me, until
she’s walking then prancing atop,
then stomping my body, prone in the grass,
crushing me out, step by hoofed step.
*from the Boston Review
P.S. Schmidt was one of Boston Review’s “Discovery” Poetry Contest Winners this year. Check out the rest of the good folk here.