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Why side track (Su Croll) is on Arc’s Shortlist

Comments by Doyali Islam

Su Croll’s “side track” is a spare and ominous poem, “packed [as] tightly” with ordinary horror as it is with bold imagery. Enjambed lines give this piece harrowing forward momentum—a kind of “explosive[ness]” that remained with me after reading. A phrase that followed me, dog-like, was “hot animal potential.”

side track

imagine a dementia dog pack imagine
the threat of such explosive animal proximity

the dogs are like a movie jumping back
cutting back to the beginning and dogs

dogs are coming again the jerky wooden
roller coaster motion of them repeating

the dogs going at it the dog pack
as a single entity so tightly packed

it becomes a coil of hot animal potential
repeating and compulsive and endless

on the inside of demented heads the side
tracked heads of the distracted

old held in the grasp
the gasp of these dogs memories

gone minds gone to the dogs


 

“side track” is from Someday, a manuscript about Su Croll’s father’s death. Su has published two poetry collections, Worlda Mirth and Blood Mother, and has completed a novel called Image Hungry.