Monday, September 02, 2013

Eileen Myles, Snowflake: new poems and different streets: newer poems,


the thing

about Los Angeles

the way

the cars

pile up

when you

get close

you’d think

they had


really good

in there (Snowflake: new poems)

I’m fascinated by legendary New York City poet, critic, and novelist Eileen Myles’ new tandem poetry collection, the combined Snowflake:new poems / different streets: newer poems (Seattle WA/New York NY: Wave Poetry, 2012). The author of “more than twenty books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, plays, and libretti,” this is the first of her books I’ve seen, two collections with barely the space of two blank pages to separate them. Myles’ relatively short lyric poems (a mere handful of the poems included are more than a page or two in length) play off the singular thought-line through short-lined phrases, keeping to a structure of how much that linearity is twisted, turned, broken or adapted. Some poems emerge as small essays in a single line, and others exist as abstracts, or even descriptive pieces, writing on the small moments of writing and other human occurrences, rich with commentary, observations and queries. Each poem in the two collections embrace “subject” nearly as a kind of journal entry, all the time, the deceptively-narrative “I” held almost as a place-holder, a means to an end. As she writes to open the poem “#7 DARK WATER” in : “big parkways so disturbing to me,” ending with “almost like a water that we’re on / though a dark water that / holds us.”

Many of her poems exist as single breath-sentences with numerous turns and cognitive twists. The subtitles “new” and “newer” suggest a distance, and the press release references that it has been seven years since her last trade collection of poetry appeared, Sorry, Tree (Wave Books, 2007). There is something radiant and even exquisite happening in these two collections, in these remarkable and remarkably subtle poems. The subtlety is powerful, and almost to the point of being barely-there, striking so much more powerful by being so, such as in the way she ends the three-page poem “WRITING” in Snowflake: new poems: “I don’t count / on what / I am / she said // and that / chandelier / is more / light // than / anyone / else [.]”

november 11

It’s not just that
the clock
stopped or reversed
but just seemed
to change
I remember
a procession
of sweet
boarded up
finding him
in a store
then kissing
in the rain
the strange pleasure
of pleasing
someone me
then my godmother
and then
someone jumping
off a building
in the rain
the surprise
and the sound
of rain
on the phone
holding it
for a while (different streets: newer poems)

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