the new poetics
Snake, be quick—excuse of words
to make me sharp and want to write
waits in metaphors sleepless taunt.
People, use stones! Compose things
Slow to weeds sounds boys invent
from drone’s new lows. Saxifrage
in young stands lovers meet behind
nervous to dismiss significance
Ur-names meeting Ur-things
in the flowers, bees reconciling workers
to their combs. Quiet, writing
don’t strike ideas I let be composed
but through that flow of breath that is not
my breath, split ore from rock
that’s not my ore, my rock.
The latest from Portland, Oregon poet Rodney Koeneke, an early member of the Flarf collective, is the collection Body & Glass (Wave Books, 2018), following on the heels of his Etruria (Wave Books, 2014), Musee Mechanique (BlazeVOX Books, 2006) and Rouge State (Pavement Saw, 2003). There is something reminiscent of Ottawa poet Stephen Brockwell’s work in Koeneke’s tone and tenor in these poems, one that writes self-aware, methodically and deeply curious, seeking the poetic and the lyric through scientific method, and the scientific through the poetic and the lyric; especially one that seeks, through the tight, narrative lyric, answers to what might never be possible to know. As the poem “schottische” begins: “You are old but / if possible I’d / like to keep // Moving […]” Or this, the final stanza in the four-stanza poem “young historian’s scoring rubric,” that reads:
Analysis is solid, and done
in a historical way, but free
from all history—balloon on
a tether with girl in a picture
primary evidence let fly away.
Composed with an incredible, subtle sharpness, his is a poetics, and even a politics, that embrace both optimism and exhaustion, as he writes to open the poem “urdo made easy”: I am fed up with this world / And want to be somewhere else[.]”