Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Seth Landman, Confidence

Walk in the shade
and feel like that
part of morning
Missouri River
stream licked
by the light
of last night so what do you think
what else could these places have been
in earlier times
I’m not afraid
I never had
a sense of the moment
my face
looking at other faces
someone is dying
and when someone is dying
you understand
everyone dies
but this one person
is overwhelming
a minute the fabric takes
and I go on
feeling mediocre
most of the day is stupid
most of my
mood is sour
just now I felt
like I could (“Confidence”)

The three poems that make up American poet Seth Landman’s second full-length collection, Confidence (Brooklyn NY: Brooklyn Arts Press, 2015), are constructed as extended sequences of short fragments that allow each poem to slowly build through accumulation. The poems—“Telling You I Love You,” “Confidence” and “Breakwater”—have less a sense of obvious narrative trajectory than a sense of openings, hesitations, pauses, observations and insights, bound together as a series of lengthy, serious breaths. There is a great deal going on in these simple statements and short phrase-lines—“I love some words / they have sadness baked right in / in the moment / I can’t find better ones” (“Telling You I Love You”)—and in many ways, the three poems collected here give the sense of being deeply interconnected, nearly as three sections of a single, book-length poem. Following on the heels of his first collection, Sign You Were Mistaken (Factory Hollow Press, 2013), Confidence shows very much what the title suggests: a confidence and a vulnerability, as Landman explores without needing to prove, opening to a variety of threads and possibilities, allowing the language to propel like water; to ebb and flow naturally, clearly and thoughtfully. Just when you think there might be nothing going on, the poem coheres, and sparkles with purpose.

All things that happen request you
make a call
out of whatever
mind is remaining
it’s raining
it’s making me think
deft wind
what surprises
my body just keeps breathing
should I bring
pizza and beer
seeing as this is now
the most important thing
action taken
without much thought
I hardly know you
but I want your shoulder
what is meant by control nothing
important the most
important thing (“Confidence”)

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