Travis Lane Wade on Michael Sikkema and layers

In Michael Sikkema’s poem, “Code Over Code,” imagery layers structural decay with a tone that communicates both feelings of restlessness and confinement. Sikkema writes:

Approaching from three sides one wind one edge of house torn blue.

Music comes

                                                                bursting and drunk. No light escapes bullet casings or

laws draped

over this hole.

Sikkema’s line, “Approaching from three sides one wind one edge of house torn blue,” embodies the different ways in which an object appears to us—the various angles, perspectives, and viewpoints a person has in viewing an object or structure. Here, Sikkema uses the verb “torn” to introduce an idea of deterioration. However, assuming that Sikkema is being purposeful when he writes of approaching a four-sided structure “from three sides,” implies destruction—it implies that of the four sides that enclose a structure one is missing: “one edge of house torn blue,” like the sky.

There is restiveness in the lines, “Music comes/bursting and drunk.” Sikkema’s descriptive language in regards to music creates a contrast of thoughts and ideas—“bursting and drunk” can be seen as both celebratory and lively or as aggressive and confrontational. It is as though Sikkema is giving us the freedom to choose how this poem will affect our vantage point.

“No light escapes bullet casings/or laws draped/over this hole.” Here, the scope of limitations is achieved. Words and phrases such as “No light escapes,” “bullet casings,” and “hole” tightens the reader’s vision and the lack of restriction that appeared in the first line is gone—where there were only three sides, now a fourth has appeared closing the reader in.

I appreciate the unconventional perspective Sikkema provides in these lines. The way he describes a place and a situation with just enough detail that imagination has the chance to take over. There are many viewpoints in which to see Sikkema’s poetry—he finds a way to take you on an alternative route to understanding.

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