Metaplasmic by Anna Eyre (effing press, 2004)
In her chapbook Metaplasmic, published by effing press, Anna Eyre documents
the many violences that one can experience while living in a city. Each of the twenty
meditations seems to issue forth from a wide-eyed and wondering speaker who is outraged
but willing to inquire into lies, harms and freedoms.
Stress fractured lines, chocked full of caesuras, convey a sense that the poet is
overwhelmed, or clogged, with details and experience: “Static noisemakers of this sleep
room pulls up air from circulation,” and, “drizzle spoon drops / like broken ambulance /
breaks drip water.”
The lines’ density foregrounds the threshold of the imaginable, another recurring topic.
In “This,” the speaker sees a tugboat on a playground. She and a friend head toward it, and begin
to engage in imaginative play. “We look at one another speechless, / question where / This / went,
our ability / to conjure our entire limb structure into / This.”
References to physical violence are woven throughout the volume. In “Instinct” a porpoise
is cut up by a corporate propeller; in “Unforgettable First Raptures,” the speaker is violently
assaulted, perhaps raped (“even bowl scrape / between dagger against / herself turns / cityscape”);
in “Larkin at Eddy,” the speaker is objectified and taunted by an onlooker (“No pull it up, pull it
up”); in “Reel,” the speaker, who appears to be bound and tied for an S&M horror film, becomes
aware that the male gaze is not limited to motion pictures.
Scenes that take place within an apartment are equally laden with threats and physical
altercations. In “Dirty Laundry,” the speaker self-consciously worries that someone could be
breaking into her and her roommate’s apartment (“Someone is / coming in / (of course) // the
front / broad banister / broken knob / entrance”). She also hints at traces of fights: “force my /
pelvis into his / against the wall.”
One of the most striking poems in the collection, “shattered expanse,” seems to relay a
moment when the speaker has a brief respite from these violences. She is seated on a beach,
looking at a shard of tumbled glass. “Fractured in my palm / its refined sufferance // gathers
magnification… // The irresistible gleam, / dried white with ache // for waves carve, pound, and
glimmer, / nets my eyes in peer.”
In this moment, albeit one of naming and distancing, the speaker finds kinship with a glass
shard and the process of being tumbled about.
Most of Metaplasmic’s poems require reader attention to shuttle between two realms—that
of the narrative text and that of the speaker’s referred-to experience. The latter scenes are
horrifying and quotidian, beautiful and inquisitive, and point to too-often-unsaid experiences.
This narrative mode breaks, however, and the writing becomes more open and participatory in
“heart,” a poem in which the speaker shifts and rearranges lines like found shards.
Here, the speaker uses rhetoric to explore the male gaze via repetitions and
juxtapositions: “my body: a smooth hammer / handle, is wielded by those who / will power over
collapse: / nail in, pull out, impress // handle is wielded by those / cold hands that splinter, / nail
in, pull out, impress / crack, (reveal or fill,) flame.”
It is in this moment that the speaker uses poetic form as a means of inquiry and,
hopefully, loosens the vestigial binds of patriarchical writing practice.