Dan Schneider’s Poem: The Shattered

God I hate Dan Schneider.

THE SHATTERED

It was only five weeks ago we learned
of mama’s emphysema. How she yearned

to put, on the top shelf, my favorite plate,
the one with green trim, from which I did eat,

for thirty-plus years. It, faded by food,
made everything better, just as it should.

There had been a farmboy, sleeping the day,
under a tree, in a field, far away,

with his straw hat cocked. He would never wake.
As mama reached she gasped, started to shake.

The grasp of decades, and their violent pull,
slipped from her fingers, as everything fell.

She wept, as she spoke of, in broken time,
for a long-faded plate, and its green trim.

This single poem here, in a mere 14 lines, makes me want to rip many of the things I’ve written into shreds. But just saying that isn’t enough, so I have to show it.

It was only five weeks ago we learned
of mama’s emphysema. How she yearned

A whimsical rhyme scheme is set up, and it makes clear that this poem is placed in the viewpoint of a speaker – a child – from the name ‘mama’. This is Dan, most likely, since the poem is dedicated to his mother. Beyond that, it also sets up the premise – his mother is sick, and she has a certain yearning. Currently this floats in the poem but later we’ll see what it develops into.

to put, on the top shelf, my favorite plate,
the one with green trim, from which I did eat,

The yearning, here, is revealed to be a rather homely action, of wanting to perhaps protect or keepsake young Danny’s favourite plate. The simple tone is retained, but ‘green trim’ is a light image that colours the plate in. ‘Did’ emphasizes the sense of the past.

for thirty-plus years. It, faded by food,
made everything better, just as it should.

The ‘thirty-plus years’ enforces the past aspect, but the ‘faded by food’ parallels with the actual act of the state of memory. Then, the second line is a simple kind of statement that a child would make, without any backing, tautologically placing the plate as a kind of ‘security blanket’ But – DAN YOU FUCKER – by placing this statement in such close proximity to the previous one, it also maps onto the sense of nostalgia, and how everything is intrinsically better when you look back on it. This may seem like a stretch for now, but the rest of the poem pushes this notion in further.

There had been a farmboy, sleeping the day,
under a tree, in a field, far away,

DAN YOU FUCKER – throws an image out of nowhere in that same sing-song rhyme, of a pastoral scene that is most likely the illustration on the plate itself. BUT it can also parallax onto that sense of nostalgia in the previous line thanks to ‘far away’. This twist in the poem is, to anyone sensitive to the subtext, ten thousand levels of perfection because of how natural the segue is.

with his straw hat cocked. He would never wake.
As mama reached she gasped, started to shake.

The ‘never wake’ places a dark turn on the poem, probably indicating the distance of the past – which is reinforced by shifting back into the perspective of mother. This strongly influences the image in mind to be that of Dan’s mom reaching for the plate, staring at the farmer boy, and gasping. This also parallaxes to the ‘sleeping the day’ in the previous stanza where it can be viewed as his mom’s own ‘day’ – as in her past, when she was healthier.

The grasp of decades, and their violent pull,
slipped from her fingers, as everything fell.

If you thought my interpretation on the past was stretching it, this is the stanza that hammers the nail in, deep down into consciousness. Suddenly everything previously fits. This is the ‘cognitive poetry’ of Dan Schneider coming into action.

She wept, as she spoke of, in broken time,
for a long-faded plate, and its green trim.

Finally, the ‘broken time’ meshes with his mom’s disease (frail speech) and the inability to regain the nostalgia past. The green trim now takes on cosmic horizons by being like ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ – that outer edge of the memory that seems to be pure and beautiful.

God I FUCKING HATE Dan Schneider.

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