Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dog Watch by Valerie Lawson

Poets Michael Brown and Valerie Lawson.
Dog Watch. Valerie Lawson. ( Ragged Sky Press 270 Griggs Drive Princeton, N.J. 08540) $10.

Valerie Lawson, a veteran of the Boston poetry scene is known for her work both in the Slam and the more traditional Spoken Word genre. She is a dramatic reader and her writing speaks as well on the page as the stage. In her new collection “Dog Watch” Lawson covers pets, downtown Boston, the passage of time; with vivid and memorable language. Take her portrait of two lovers in the poem “1369 Coffeehouse”,” a well-known coffee haunt in Cambridge, Mass. In this poem Lawson appoints the stage with telling and evocative detail:

“ You wore that brown sweater and plaid shirt.
Throat clearing sounds of coffee machines.
The counter man was funny, said,
“Get desert, he’s buying.”
Food unnecessary,
we sit at the tiny table in front,
ignore cups of tea.
You face the back,
I the street.
Above our head hangs a map of Cambridge.
You show your first poem of the new year,
Images in my mind an Escher print.
I give you a turkey feather,
it gleams as you twirl it,
as you smooth the barbs.

And in “Time Addict” Lawson captures the frenzied nature of the rat race—a maddening, life-deadening pace:

“ I can make it, I know I can,
less than living wage just a point
on the line, I need to run faster, work later
do more, shave sleep fifteen minutes at a time,
sleep is the drug for the weak, give me some sleep deprivation,
heady buzz a counterpoint to the pounding in my temples,
gotta go, got a thing, got to get somewhere, fast,
where’d the time go?”


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