The poems that resonate with most people are always about love and human relationships. One of them is a piece called “Poem for Haruko”, written by June Jordan (2005). Despite the poem’s concise nature, it exposes a deep and emotional story. The vivid images the author portrays with the help of fascinating comparisons attract readers’ attention immediately. The unconventional structure of the poem is also one of its significant features that stands out against the background of other works I have read. Through “Poem for Haruko”, Jordan conveys her innermost feelings and memories in an original manner.
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Certainly, “Poem for Haruko” is a beautiful and touching story. One can assume that the poem describes a romantic relationship between the author and a person, presumably named Haruko. From the first reading, it is hard to tell whether their relationship is romantic or not, and what bond the two share between each other. There is a mention of lust — “all the solid heat of lust” — and passion — “as passion spins its infinite tergiversations”. Jordan and Haruko’s history is uncertain, and their connection could be platonic. For that instance, her book called “Haruko: Love Poems” reveals more about June Jordan and her romantic partners. According to the foreword written by Adrienne Rich (1994) states that “Jordan explores many kinds of love, towards herself and others, male and female” (11). Although Haruko’s gender and background are unknown, they are an important person for June and can definitely be considered her love interest. The intimacy of their relationship can be seen in most of her pieces addressed to Haruko, and it can be sensed in “Poem for Haruko” as well — “How easily you held my hand beside the low tide of the world”. There is a possibility that Haruko is Jordan’s muse or soulmate.
Unfortunately, Haruko’s character is out of the readers’ reach, and it is hard to guess anything about their personality. The author’s qualities, on the other hand, are transparent due to her passion and honesty. While sharing her feelings and personal discoveries, she writes: “I never thought I’d keep a record of my pain or happiness”. Her emotions are raw, and she feels them deeply as she remembers the smallest details about Haruko and recalls the sensation she experienced when they were together. If she were playing a character, it would be fair to argue that her character is empathetic and sentimental, yet bold and expressive. Observing the progression of Jordan’s emotions and revelations is an intriguing journey.
It is fascinating how the author’s sentiment is contrasting as she compares “happiness” and “pain”, “cruel” and “kind”, “bitter” and “sweet”. In addition to the use of antonyms, Jordan relies on vibrant imagery and objects in helping her to make the poem more saturated. Peculiar items such as cigarettes and apricots almost make it seem as if the poem has a smell for a moment. “Sands and rocks” as well as “particles of flame” and “a shower organized by God” are all tangible things. They either have a distinct surface or produce heat and cold; they are felt on human skin in a way that is familiar to everybody. The author seeks tangibility through unique epithets as well. The piece is filled with such constructions as “soft lace of the air”, “brown and auburn undulations”, and “tender trembling”. The contrasting antonyms and physical epithets create a thrilling ensemble that creates a feeling of presence and an atmosphere that leaves a magical trace in the readers’ imagination.
Finally, the unusual structure of “Poem for Haruko” plays the role of emphasizing, visually and logically, the critical points of the piece. Most lines begin with pronouns and particles, which compels the readers to finish the poem in one breath. The slightly inconsistent pace demonstrates the flight of the lyricist’s ideas and thoughts. It seems as if the indented lines and overall rhythm act as a hint for which parts the readers should linger their attention on. They lead the readers in the right direction, the direction in which the author was thinking. Indeed, the structure of “Poem for Haruko” affects the perception of the poem in a significant way. The final lines — “Alone and longing for you; now I do” — are a poignant finishing touch that leaves a prolonged and strong impression. Without any question, June Jordan is a gifted and eloquent poet, and the arrangement of emphasis in her work has an important purpose.
In conclusion, discovering “Poem for Haruko” and June Jordan’s poetry will be a delight for any poetry lover. The interpersonal themes, the author’s profound emotions and sincerity, beautifully chosen words, and the design of the poem make this piece exceptional and unforgettable. Everything in this piece of poetry is in its right place, which is a merit of the talented June Jordan. It would have been even better if the readers could learn more about Haruko’s character, but that should only inspire them to dive deeper into Jordan’s poetry and continue exploring their special connection. “Poem for Haruko” is a wonderful embodiment of drama, fondness, longing, and loneliness.
Jordan. Directed by Desire: “Poem for Haruko”. Copper Canyon Press, 2005.
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Jordan. Haruko: Love Poems. Profile Books Ltd, 1994.