Sunday, March 08, 2020


thrive all night

funny dealing in the ace
a forward drift
      from stable to stable

I tapped out a mind map
of my career
   in a history
      of old phone numbers

failed educator
failed entertainer

      guess how much
I want to know

      as much as I get lit
making repairs
and doing maintenance
on the light
I should be ashes

      I must be almost
      invisible by now

On the heels of his selected poems, Unintended Empire: 1989-2012 (Baltimore MD: Furniture Press, 2018) [see my review of such here], comes Washington, D.C. poet Buck Downs’ self-published OPEN CONTAINER (Washington DC: privately printed, 2019). There is something about the poems in OPEN CONTAINER—continuing the work of his publishing writing to date—akin to the format of the “day book,” sketching out short diary entries of a life lived in poetry. Somehow more along the lines of Gil McElroy’s ongoing “Julian Days” sequence than, say, the life-long work of the late Vancouver poet Gerry Gilbert, Downs’ OPEN CONTAINER articulates moments and scenes as a continuous roll of days, thinking and experiences. While he might not mark the dates, these poems do seem to follow the progress of a life related to the “I did this, I did that” of New York School poet Frank O’Hara, but more abstract; again, not poems composed from a life, but a life in poetry, entirely shaping a life out of language and thinking.

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