I Wonder What Else Doesn’t “Exist”

This may seem kind of ridiculous of me to do because it is barely grounded in much, but I want to look deeper into the poem Exist by Brian Swann. In this poem, like Mark Yakich states, realized that the majority of the poem is in the prospective part of the poem instead of it half-and-half with the retrospective point of view. I find this extremely interesting considering the fact that it seemed like the poem had to have somewhat of a combined structure between the two. I like that this poem differs from the rest and i also find it interesting how he can use about three lines of retrospective before he moves into the prospective phase.

In the poem he hints to having different experiences with ‘pain’ then everyone else which takes up the retrospective point of view, then he never really tells what the experiences were with pain unlike some of the other poems in this chapter that go on to explain all. He writes:

“As a kid I never thought of “pain” as

something I felt. What I felt I could not

name or share.”

It gives a sense that he had experiences that scarred him out of this part of the poem. I love how he leaves the reader with a sense that pain has a higher level then what we name it, that it beyond words and can only be felt.

He then goes into the prospective point of view with the next line starting with “Now out the window…”. I couldn’t get over though a different feeling that I got from the poem. It seemed like Swann gave me a word that he said he couldn’t really describe because he could only really feel it and then he made the reader feel the same way about the rest of his prospective view within the poem. In a way, he moves past his own experiences by not even going into them, by pretty much telling the reader that there is no way that he could really even begin to talk about.

He also hints in the rest of the poem that a lot of things don’t ‘exsit’, including himself sometimes. This may just be my interpretation probably going off on a limb, but I like that if you take this poem just in consideration of the retrospective-prospective structure, Swann seems to be showing that his retrospective side doesn’t really exist either.

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