Not Your Binary: A QTPOC Reading Column – A Reading of Roy G. Guzmán’s “Blood Fantasia”

Roy G. Guzmán’s “Blood Fantasia” patchworks the words of thirty-seven poets, composing a sublime composition into a loose-sestina form. Each time Guzmán’s speaker repeats phrases, the words crescendo and build into an intense meaning. The beginning lines depict an awareness from the speaker of their own disorder: “I am cosmically outrageous, a tragic orchestra” (ll. 1).

Progressing through the first stanza, the speaker’s scene setting begins with the introduction of characters, bringing a narrative to the poem: “Mother dressed him in guava- / colored lace crinolines and the silence of the orchid” (ll. 1-2). Images like “guava,” “colored lace,” and “orchid” beautify the scene, while “silence” gravitates the poem into a direction away from the alluring. Juxtaposition between images range from fantastic to violent: “His head, a smashed / piñata of bone and blood, a country with 180, 000 orphans, the irony / of barbed wire” (ll. 2-4). The first stanza encompasses the audience in a range of images, displaying an unexpected turn from the dressing of the boy, to the encapsulation of “180, 000 orphans.”

The speaker sets forth the irony posited from the fourth line in the second stanza: “we step over the barbed wire into the pasture, outrageous / flowers as big as human / heads” (ll. 5-6). The grandeur of thinking of open land with large flowers brings a sense of comfort, yet the speaker’s argument in, “The truth is you can be orphaned again / and again and again,” calls for a feeling of displacement, even after the speaker’s “we” steps over the “barbed wire.” In the disorder, the speaker shifts perspective from the “pasture” to a memory:

where my mother once peddled guavas,

she sat a small Dora piñata in her lap and read a piece about Freud’s Dora

case study of hysteria, putting the two Doras in dialogue with one another,

concealed among orchids of subtle idiosyncrasy (ll. 7-10).

The speaker’s mother is subject to a misogynist psychological analysis, which parallels the contradiction in a phrase like “subtle idiosyncrasy,” adding to the poem’s building chaos. In comparing a case meant to dissect a person’s behaviors and characteristics for understanding to a “subtle idiosyncrasy,” and actually failing to understand the subject, the speaker is alluding to the characteristics of the entire poem. Specifically, in the political dynamics hidden throughout the repetitive language. Moreover, the repetition of “orchid,” which carries the verbs “silence” and “[conceal],” illustrates the way some of the decorative language works to covert the speaker’s observations and truths.

Roy G. Guzmán’s “Blood Fantasia” is a composition of linguistic dynamism, focusing on a specific word set, and building off each word’s denotation, while adding to the word’s connotation. “Blood Fantasia” is the very “tragic orchestra” the speaker warns their audience of.

Read the rest of Roy G. Guzmán’s “Blood Fantasia” here.

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