["I'm Offered to Officiate a Plantation Wedding"] is powerful work. In couplet after couplet, Prince Bush refuses any romantic approach to plantation life, instead telling the truth about a place whose “cruelty” “depend[ed]” on one’s color”: slaves “had no milk, suffered rickets and calcium deficiency, /Faced impairments, had no repairers, prepared corn-// Ucopias for families.” Bush’s form is as striking as his content, thanks to careful repetition – note the craft of “crawl” over “her crawlspace” – and alliteration: “fragments in fraction,” “the lash that is lightning.” Puerto Del Sol includes an excellent interview with Bush, in which he discusses the freedom and “infinity of the page,” and the poem as a “channel” for powerful emotion.
The Cincinnati Review
“The Therapist Asks, How Does the Brain Feel” is an evolving answer, a rickety list, a masterclass in the semicolon. As the poem’s speaker searches for the right metaphor to answer the therapist, images complicate and accrue with increasing urgency: “a spindle with dwindling flax” and “an elevator—its repeatedly pressed buttons.” Propulsive soundwork is productively trapped by Bush’s precise use of punctuation, so that content and form pinball the reader toward the poem’s final pause and crash.
[I]n Prince Bush’s poem, “From My Car,” an ordinary scene – having car trouble on a busy expressway – takes on the tenor of myth. He blends the reality of having car trouble on a busy expressway with a surreal scene of his own death. Well-meaning, misguided strangers offer his protagonist advice: “A woman / Suggested I get out // And push my car up / Despite the two-ton car / Flattening me, and another // Offered to manhandle my car / Despite the two-ton car / Castrating him” . . . [T]he car here is more than a car. It’s the vehicle that won’t carry us, the burden we can’t set down, the weight that bears down on our intuition. It doesn’t run, and it can’t be run away from. The poem gains power in Bush’s decision to not specify the car’s allegorical content. It flattens, castrates, and cannot be denied.
Jane Huffman and Diane Seuss
with ❤ to those quoted