ADVANCED FANTASIES OF THE
Here the Crotona Pool
should be, here still
It is. We don’t erase ourselves. We don’t
Ply our bodies with asphalt and barriers.
Our walls are pinned with some of what
Exists, but one cannot notice every tulip.
All the flora and fauna given a name
Hasn’t been given one by us. The people
List as traffic. Thus traffic grows. It roars
When locked in place, then when it moves.
It piles around us, above us, like papers
We haven’t attended to. We have too many
Solutions. Nights our offices pool with
Us. We overflow ourselves, and cannot
See from where we are about to go.
South Carolina poet and editor Samuel Amadon is Often, Common, Some, and Free: Poems (Oakland CA: Omnidawn, 2021), following his debut, Like a Sea (University of Iowa Press, 2010), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, and subsequent collections The Hartford Book (Cleveland State University Press, 2012), winner of the Believer Poetry Book Award, and Listener (Solid Objects, 2020) [see my review of such here]. Structured in five numbered sections—three sections of shorter lyrics surrounding a pair of longer sequence-sections—Amadon composes carved moments of narrative thinking, offering poems that perspectives and clarity on two fronts: a selection of straightforward narratives around pools, and a far deeper conversation on being and contemplation. “You can do the work just by starting it.” he writes, to open “POEM THAT WANTS TO BE CALLED THE WEST SIDE / HIGHWAY,” “You can / do whatever you want. A bill / is drafted on a train to Albany, or in a black / limousine. Like how one day I walked / the entire length of Manhattan, except I didn’t.” There is something in the way he writes of pools and twists of geography, surface tension and light to offer a depth simultaneously unfathomable, and slightly out of reach. “Here I am with all the words / I didn’t used to know.” he writes, to open “AT MCCARREN POOL.”
poems that make up Amadon’s Often, Common, Some, and Free offer a
familiar ease, one presented nearly in a conversational manner, offering a
unique complexity through straightforward means. “The clarity of the granite,”
he writes, to open the poem “AT THE BREAKWATER,” “each piece fit, as if it is /
Blue, silver, red as somehow the same color / That holds it together. Last
night, I stood in the cold / Across the street from a small white house, held /
My fingers up against waves of conversation, warm / Light from table lamps,
watched people who didn’t / Want to go in there, but had forgotten.”