Poem Analysis: Alzheimer's By Kelly Cherry

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The Silent Killer
Explication:
“Alzheimer’s” by Kelly Cherry was published in 1997 during a time of personal struggle for Cherry and her dad. This short, free verse poem consists of twenty nine perplexing lines. The poet’s nontraditional placement of line breaks cause some ideas to fall off in mid-sentence, while others never complete the thought. This creates enjambments which mimic the disease’s confusing nature. The speaker of this poem is the author, who is also the daughter of whom she writes about. Ideally, the writer narrates the poem in order to genuinely explain the turmoil loved ones face on a daily basis while dealing with this disease. The beginning of the poem creatively uses a simile to introduce us to “a crazy old man back
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In this case, Kelly Cherry effectively uses imagery through various elements so the reader can visualize the man’s homecoming. These images are described with the things the man may be holding on to physically or mentally. For example, the suitcase “That contains shaving cream, a piggy bank, a book he sometimes pretends to read, His clothes” clearly identifies the little things familiar to him and items he values (4-6). Likewise, Cherry describes how the man once saw himself, “A younger man, in a tweed hat, a man who loves Music” (19-20). This creates a flashback moment to a time he enjoyed and one that identifies who he was then. Perhaps it also creates a mental picture of him for the audience. However, the “peculiar screeching of strings” and the “fiddling with emotion” causes the reader to see the confusion his mind is struggling with in order to decipher his surroundings (21-22). This all leads to the image of his significant other standing in the doorway as he has to decide “who this woman is, this old, white-haired woman” (27). Trying hard to recall this person, he presses on determined to make sense of his new world. The poet successfully illustrates the magnitude with which this disease can change its victim’s perspective about things and situations once familiar to
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