Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crabwise to the Hounds, by Jeramy Dodds

When I read Jeramy Dodd's poems a few months ago in an issue of EnRoute magazine for his CBC Literary Award win in 2007 (he also won the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award in 2006), it was one of the few times I actually wanted to keep a copy of the issue, to be able to reread them. Finally available in a first trade collection, those poems appear in Crabwise to the Hounds (Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 2008). Still, the only part of this wise little poetry collection by the Orono, Ontario author is the title, otherwise containing short, sharp and surprising small poems that grasp and grapple with the fine-lined restraint of just how the thread of a poem can resonate.

I had come to brush my teeth.
You had been in here for some time,
standing in the corner shower.
Splay of toothpaste speckling the mirror
with constellations, snowpoints.
The water circles above the drain,
brings its buffaloes to the cliffs.
Your toes squint on the lime stains
left from the pouncing of the taps.
I missed you turning to me,
or maybe you didn’t, hands up
on the shower wall as if some water-cops
had you frisked. And me moving in
to interrogate just as they
were beading away.
His preferred structure seems to be the little narrative, bringing in the abstract, but its in the execution, in the leaps and fierce tightness where he creates and sometime excels, writing small, where the shorter the poem, the finer the piece. This is a fine and graceful little book, an impressive first collection. Where do they all come from, these kids with first books that immediately strike? I'm already afraid for where he will go next.

Yank your habit from the hat,
temper-up it on the rump, tell it,
naughty little bastard. There he is
at the tail of a trail of look-alike
chocolate-covered raisins, that's him,
the effin' ticker of his clock pounding,
teasing Alice through a haze, just to dry-hump
her shiny shoe. Near dawn he's at a cabbage grab
in your English garden. Tell him what we do
to thieves in this town: lop off that unlucky foot,
that sawdust-filled necromancer, perpetually on point,
teeth tocking to his jackalope cousin while wolves
tear through the kitchen, he jigs in the tall grass
when St. Jean's head is lopped into a whisker basket.
In your child's room, Bunnicula sits fanged
in a chicken-wire cage. Not a good idea
to set him on your lap, heavy-pet his ears back,
better let him drown in the well of a hat,
next to the tricks we've done
when we're all thumbs.

No comments: