Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Review by Lo Galluccio http://logalluccio.com
Blood Cocoon, Selected Poems by Connie Fox
Pres :s: Press P.O. Box 792 Rockford, MI 49341
October 1, 2005
It’s August, that month of hazy zenith summer and the ultimately turning, turning into fall. There are already dead leaves on the sidewalks but we’re not supposed to notice them. Fallen leaves belong to autumn, as so many great jazz singers have intoned. My poet of the month is not a neighborhood maverick, but a far-flung genius from Detroit, MI, who writes up past and present in glorious, strange and tantalizing language.
If Walt Whitman had been a woman, all of nature would have been reconfigured to a different time, zone, place. That is what Connie Fox’s poetry makes me believe. And it’s Whitman who this free verse of gorgeous and engorging poetry reminds me of most.
From the title poem: Blood Cocoon, "small epiphanies you take me into your secrets I’ll take you into mine, rigid white sprouts out of rich decay….Inside Fushia, the world streams, monkeys across the stone faces of god."
The landscape (and inscape) is Brazil, in the first set of poems of the collection. And the modality is intense and sensuous femininity, an exploration of the colors, curves, adornments that make sex both sublime and the life force nocturnal:
"blending red into pink until my lips talk to my eyes red rose on a white door eating strawberries strawberried fingernails…"
The transformations abound, from nature to human, from nature to gods. Again primal sexuality dressed up: "I hitch up her skirt over her sacred black-sueded legs spread sacred black flowers…." From The Dream of the Black Topaz Chamber. And in verse 21 she writes: "Through a plane of crystal and the nipples, peace descends, shroud against Magdalena-Kali face, the image of bloody hands in white…" So she makes reference to two goddesses of Christian and Hindu beliefs, both extreme, both contentious – Kali the destroyer and bringer of life, black mane of hair, many arms and a necklace of men’s skulls around her neck. The Magdalene, who has recently been redeemed – first by Christ and then by scholarly and popular writing as the holy goddess whore and possible partner to Christ. This verse crescendos with: "belief futuring into infinite orgasms of coronary expansion."
And later in this long poem the declaration that: " I believe in legs and disbelieve in wheels, that the elimination of death invites the all-Death to suck the All-Juice out of our world." …"that my glands secret the gods and my closed-eyed inner ecstasy is the why of creation." The poem comes from a sojourn on the Island of Santa Catarina, Brazil.
My favorite poem centers the collection before a devolution into a section on family and scientific cosmic decay. Connie is haunted it seems forever and shaken out of the caresses of ancient earth into the modern realities of time and death…."I pretend to forget for hours, years, but the hum is always there like cosmic microwave background radiation, the deep base HUM…."
Nachtymnen: 1.Night we evolve back into ourselves in veloured liquid sleep, the enemy eyes of the day people attack our DECLARATION OF ANTI-CONSCIOUSNESS…" And more, "I am wrongless, stainless, a shining obelisk of blackvirgindeath tourmaline."
In an end note Connie writes: " So the poetry itself is a kind of Jungian-Freudian Id-history of my entire life, from grandmother to mother to my own adulthood, my own relations with the world around me, more and more inselving until finally, at age 73, I reach a kind of sometimes, not-often ecstatic stasis."
I love this book.
This review was written for The Cambridge Alewife and the Ibbetson Press Review.