Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ongoing notes: the dusie kollectiv,

Here are some brief reviews of more of recent chapbooks received as part of my participation in the “dusie 5 kollectiv” [see my previous note on such here].

New York NY: New York poet Lynn Behrendt's offering is the chapbook This is the Story of Things that Happened (2011), a long poem of thirty-six stanzas, with all but one composed in four-line stanza-sentences. Apparently the author of a number of other small chapbooks, as well as the full-length collection petals, emblems (Lunar Chandelier Press), her poem is composed of a list of items, accumulating lines and cross-purposes, writing out what happened, what might have happened, should or even never did. As she writes, “Every rock tells a story / about how it formed. / This is an anecdote / about how to sound like yourself.”
This is not a story about recruiting,
not a story about me
and most certainly
is not a story about you.

This is a story about a new subset
a black sheep story
the resettlement, revolution
& reform of the Chinese in Cuba.
Santa Cruz CA: There are two sequences that make up Jessica Breheny's Ephemerides (Embusan Press, 2011), “Ecliptic” and “Lunar Calendar.” I'm taken with Breheny's sharp turns, and her inventive takes on familiar patterns of astrology, writing, at least in “Ecliptic,” small fictions wrapped in poems. There are some fine moments here, as she writes as part 3 of her second sequence, “Open your blurry mouth. You will not / always swallow the sky from right to left.” I'm intrigued by these string-bound chapbooks, produced by American poet Jim Maughn, through a press so new the website claims only “under construction.” When will there be more than construction? Although, admittedly, I'd rather he be making books than websites. Here's the last of the twelve poems that make up her first sequence, said to be the last of the twelve signs, holding the best and the worst of all the rest:

Today you will meet a man with a mysterious accent who will serve you figs
on a plate made of ground whale bones. You will dip a fig in honey
and your tongue will know each calorie as sunlight.

The man will take a book out of a satchel and read to you words made of feathers
and footprints. He will reach across the white clothed table for your hand and kiss
your index finger, and in that moment you will not feel the rattle of bones,
the gamble-game of knuckles, or your inclination to point,

The language of your hand will fall silent,
your beaked no's and fisted yes's stilled.
You will look into the obsidian of the man's eyes
and see only your ink-blot self there.
Your tongue, stunned with honey
and all of the processes of sun, will not answer the question of the mirror.
And when you stand up, you will find that the man has removed all of the props,

such as the door, the chair, the music stand.

And your life, once again, will be a clean bone plate.
Dillon MT: Rebecca M. Knotts' We Speak of Sacred Things (2010) exists as a series of meditations, riding intent and straight lines across in sequence, writing:
And they say, “Each one prays to God according to his own light.”

And I find it difficult to believe there was nothing I could do to save you.
Self-described as a “polyphonic collage” using quotes and/or excerpts from such as Sophy Burnham, Paramahamsa Yogananda, David Smith, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Gerard Manley Hopkins and others, Knotts' poem works very much in a meditative mode, straighter in intent and language than many of the (so far) dusie offerings. Discovering its own grace through its singularity of purpose through collaged elements and unadorned speech, it is a poem searching for what can be said after such great trauma, when all else has been burned away.
Sadako Sasaki was two years old when America dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.
Sadako was a little over one mile from the site of the explosion. All around her, adults and children –

and this is where you should speak and there is only silence

1 comment:

Jim Maughn said...

Thank you for doing these reviews, rob. This one made my day. Thanks for reminding me I once made a website for Embusan, too: I'd forgotten all about it. (2011's been like that...)

Jim Maughn