Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deborah Poe, the last will be stone, too

endless rebirth

nails and teeth
organs flesh and bone

dusk reverie rabbit then deer
hard substance of body, the earth

sweat bile and blood
tears fat and mucus

fluids, water

body mechanisms fire
physical warmth, aging

fireflies at night
the scattering sparks

in the belly

the crepuscular crow
energy, movement

pink light on black pavement
when the body’s fire dissolves into wind

thin paper’s fragility
skin cools

mouth nostrils and ears

the rhythm circles, repeats
from the feet upward to the heart

the dissolution of elements
beyond the physical body’s slow ring
In her third trade poetry collection, the last will be stone, too (Ithica, NY: Stockport Flats, 2013), Hudson Valley poet Deborah Poe composes a study of death in four sections: people, place, animal and ghost. Originally produced as four chapbooks as part of the dusie kollektiv #5, part of the strength of this collection is in how the multiple voices come through the text, from one piece of fading text across bold, from a series of italicized choruses and a poem in binary, or in more subtle ways, wrapped underneath and across straighter lines. Through composing lines in italics, it is as though Poe has composed a poem within the poem, commenting on the main line of the piece and responding to it. Even the preface, the poem “death mix” (called “tract” in the table of contents), is entirely chorus, written nearly as a kind of foreshadowing, writing:
stone, wherever you look, stone
in the passages, passages

let the grey animal in

O one, o none o no one, o you
As Poe writes to open her lengthy “notes” at the end of the collection, “The title of this collection is based on a quote from Nadezhda Mandelstam’s Hope against Hope (Athneum Publishers 1970): Once, resting by the pile of rocks, [Osip] said, ‘My first book was Stone, and my last will be stone, too’ (399, emphasis mine).” In a second collection composed as a “last book,” Poe uses erasure, lyric, ekphrasis, lists and the prose-poem in a collage of forms, each reaching toward some kind of unknowing, writing the conflict between comprehension and the impossibility of what might come, and the foreshadowing of death, the great equalizer. Throughout the collection, she weaves references to how the ancient Egyptians saw death to more than a couple of quotes from Nadezhda Mandelstam and other cultural counterpoints, each exploring death towards an accumulation of lyric on the subject, presented as a book-length essay-poem. As anyone knows, any book about death can’t help but be also a book about life, as one can’t exist without the tension of the other. In the hands of Deborah Poe, the last will be stone, too is a poem tightrope-taut.
le passage

No one asked if Magritte’s bowler-hatted homme was autobiographical. This is not a dream; it’s a vision. Past the sign, the significance. Winter sky. She doesn’t face you because she steadies an end. Cloth wrapped around her lower half, she hunches. The way forward is precarious. A body worn thin. She confronts dead sky. Flat panels—space between ground. Broken earth ocean. You come to nude body. Beauty is convenient. A set jaw line signals a smile. She’s gone spine. Shadows on twisted stairs rise behind. She has said all she has to say. All there is to do now is scream.

1 comment:

Victorina said...

This is cool!