“Last Call” from Saeed Jones’ Prelude to Bruise is an violent exploration of queer yearning and the speakers’ submission to their sexuality. Readers are introduced to violent imagery within the first line; “Night presses the gunmetal O of its mouth / against my own” (Jones 16). Night is personified as a gun, which is an inherently dangerous weapon. What is interesting is how the speaker responds; “I can’t help how I answer” (Jones 16). The speaker understands that this kiss is dangerous, but he is willing to give in. The speaker continues, describing his interaction with this person. Saeed writes, “He is the taste of smoke” (16). The use of a metaphor emphasizes how the speaker envisions this person. If a simile was used instead, describing him as or like “the taste of smoke” the gravity of the situation would be lost. Jones utilizes enjambment to emphasize the sexual nature of the situation; “Need another double-black / kiss” (16). “Kiss” begins a line, despite it being the end of the sentence. Jones wants the reader to understand that this is a romantic and sexual encounter, and that is why it is so dangerous. Furthering this point are the last two stanzas; “…before I let the lake / grab my ankles & take me into its muddy mouth. // They say a city is at the bottom of all that water” (16). I interpret this line as the lake is the speaker’s sexuality, which comes with danger and struggle, but the city is his life when he lives as his true self.
One thought on “Last Call”
I analyzed this poem as well, and I really appreciate how you walked through the poem almost line by line which speaks to the significance of Jones’ specific word choice and imagery. I especially enjoyed how you focused on the connection between violence and Jones’ desire to partake in this intimate act. In this manner, I like how you spoke to how Jones’ need to give into his pleasure and sexual needs is inherently dangerous. It’s unfortunate that Jones, as a gay man, cannot seek pleasure and give in to his desires and temptations freely, without the constant fear in the back of his mind that he shouldn’t be participating in these acts. I think this fear and acknowledgement of the violence and dangers associated with queer pleasure may contribute to Jones’ possible feelings of internalized homophobia and self-hatred at not being a straight, Black man.
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