Thursday, June 16, 2011

cadaver dogs, Rebecca Loudon

It was tough to choose as I have more than a few unread books by contemporary poets, but ultimately I decided to go with cadaver dogs by Rebecca Loudon because, well, that was the next book I wanted to read.

A flip-through tells me that I'm in over my head here because I'm not sure what the poems I've read in there mean. In fact, it wasn't until I started research for this description that I found out that "cadaver dogs" are police dogs that are trained to sniff out decomposing human flesh. Between that factoid and the cover I think we can expect some dark material.

The first poem is titled "Double-plush Wolf in a Hungry Age". The close proximity of Hungry and Wolf led me to expect a fairy-tale motif, and I think that I found it mixed in with some production/consumerism and general sexual identity. Of course I'm thinking "Little Red Riding Hood", and generally that's understood to be about sex or rape. I think this strophe supports that reading:

A bit of fur glued on and some fork tines
and my transformation was complete. I was
the little man in the brown suit your mother
warned you about.

This fairy-tale language seems to be a large part of the poem, including "enchantments", sleeping children, and a notable "nibble nibble nibble / the center of your sweetbread heart." (which always reminds me of Hansel and Gretel).

If there's a narrative in the poem, it's lost on me. There's a declarative "I am a seamstress" in the fifth line, so I did get a sense of a single, clear narrator, at least, but I don't know that she's meant to tell a story.

I do feel there is some message or sense of consumerism intentionally worked into the poem. It starts with a very suggestive enjambment on the first line:

A wax snout is a lot of work for a city
girl living in the forest, even counting

And language pops up like "5 Mile Prairie" and "Betty Crocker Potato Buds". I think the title itself refers to consumer culture by "Hungry Age".

I may just be disorganized tonight, but I do think the poem resists a purely rational explanation. I think a large part of the poem is the impression the words and (startling) images leave on the reader. It is disconcerting, over all.


  1. I like the book title, because my mother trains search and rescue dogs. (She hasn't got any cadaver dogs, though.) The first poem sounds like rough and disturbing going--I'll be curious to hear about how the rest of the book unfolds.

  2. Well, the snippets you posted, as well as the title, are quite tantalizing. Sounds like the sort of book that would make for GREAT group discussion. Or a psychoanalyst's couch.