By Any Name
When jackals' baying is both backdropand foreground, when forest
is conifers and impenetrablefence, when mongoose predator
equals mongoose prey, which truthwill the brain feign?
A lyrebird's call appropriatesany sound it fancies. Above us,
shithawks flockto mock us. Featherbrained,
we agree bullshit is the bestdecoy. The average vocabulary
is 10,000 words, and oneeasily stands in for another.
It is all the same.For example, you, me
and the Cecropia moth,born speechless, wriggling
free, only to flop atopthe first moth we see.
There is a wry and formal parlance to the poems of Montreal poet and graphic designer Leigh Kotsilidis' first trade poetry collection, Hypotheticals (Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 2011), that intrigues, that begs the questions of 'how does one arrive at this point,' and 'where does one continue from here?' For Kotsilidis, the theory she writes about is science (as the back cover explains) as “a useful metaphor to explain the world,” and the fallibility and limitations inherent in such metaphors. Still, formal competency by itself does not make for great writing, and the strengths here are, for the most part, quietly understated. The collection as a whole exists almost as a scientific study, with poems etched out into four sections—Evidence, Variables, Falsifications and Conclusions—echoing scientific method in her larger thesis. I understand full well the idea of approaching writing as a kind of ongoing study, but, in Kotsilidis' poems of what may or might be, what, I wonder, does she consider her conclusions, or is the structure of thesis a distraction away from what her individual poems might be actually accomplishing?
Which scientifically feasible theory alleviatesthis, that or the other pang, the hang
and hunker of this or that man, the follyof falling repeatedly off the lone horse,
the Morse of you, then you, then you and me?That you or I are lonely or that this is only fling
would be no consolation to those knownas wingmen, the dartboard-hearted,
the dashed-hope guarded. That you or Iwant more than less is not earth-shattering,
nor will it guarantee you or me the bee'sknees. No, one of us always buckles
and bucks beneath the spousal 'we,' needsthe other to believe there is no theory,
wants more then less, and more oftenthat and then another.