Wednesday, March 12, 2008
"Bird Scarer"( poems) by Glenn Sheldon
$14.00 U.S. paperback
Cervena Barva Press
Review by Mike Amado
"Bird Scarer" is the first full-length poetry collection
by Glen Sheldon, though, at the same time, it stands in sapient
observation like a guru in a rock garden, silently reflecting
The collection is split into three sections. All of which
own their own psyche, and draws for the reader a continuum
of images, both concrete and not, that shift perception
just like the poems switch geographic locations; from Chicago
to "North of Boston", French Guiana to Buenos Aires.
There is a certain division of voice in the first section of "Bird
Scarer", the "alert" poet taking in the atmosphere of a city where
the view from skyscrapers are,
". . .a tool invented to seduce angels into throwing / stones down
upon damned rooftops." and the man looking for employment.
Shining his shoes just to go to the library or the art museum.
With an almost split personality, the speaker is both an adult
with a job and is an unquiet youth running loose in the city:
"There is the sugar rush of / leaving work and undoing / one’s
tie on an unraveling / street."
In the poem, "Class Wars", the speaker is an infiltrator in the
"High-art" world, stealing into exhibit openings in "SuHu
(SoHo transplanted to corn country)".
The art openings are seen as being less about the art and more
about the artist, "Discreetly visible", in "Expensively pensive
clothing.",( black, of course ) and about making a sale. "The
cheese was often / cut into cubes as if cubism, at last,
/ was profitable." Sheldon concludes:
"The wine spurred us
to fall in love with the neon of streetlights,
the shine on mouths with lipstick or
offers of the wrong kisses. And the art?
In a city rich from hanging meat, it
hung there. It was for the wealthy
to steal away from constipated drunks."
While the first section tackles relocation and the inertia of trying t
o assimilate to new surroundings, the second section introduces
an existentialism. In "Evasive Summer", the last line asks,
"Is Earth the only/ planet where dreams can harm?" The
speaker watches his stoned neighbors cavorting in an above-g
round pool. Though vicariously, at the same time watching
with exhilaration. Calling it, "The Fall of Troy as puppet-theater"
as they,". . .touch each / others scars."
The poems here are presented with a roving eye that virtually
wishes to be somewhere else or apart of what is being observed,
however continuing a keen sense for every detail.
"North of Boston" is the speaker’s account of a "family
tradition",driving with his family to view other families’
Christmas lights. The competing neighbors, no doubt vying for t
he attention with their, "bright attempts to turn /
the manger into a mystery, Off-Broadway." Sheldon continues:
"Angels gather into barber shop quartets.
We look for the lights to make us say, Ah.
I look for the Atlantic lights farther out, heading
south. Cuba? Argentina? Ah."
In section three, "Geography of Desire" the speaker finally casts
off his necktie that only became undone in the first section.
There are many poems worthy of citation that the reader will
have to experience themselves. Holding true to the title, the
poems here involve an eroticism, both for flesh and for
landscapes. All the while the voice of the writer is there.
"Borrowed Horoscope: San Juan" presents that
voice of the writer with strength:
. . . "My journal says Romans were
our first tourists, that souvenirs were
the only proof that they didn’t spend
their last years in prisons. I write just
to look at the splendor of my penmanship,
the Caribbean waves crashing inside comfort
rented by the week." . . .
Throughout "Bird Scarer, Sheldon effortlessly glides from
couplets to triplets, then to quatrains without loosing the story.
Most poetic forms can be the death of a good story, in my opinion.
Though Sheldon has developed both story and form
alongside each other in "Bird Scarer".
These are the words of an uprooted soul, finding transplantation
and a temp job in Chicago, finally regaining a new
consciousness in abstract horizons where,
"My notebooks fill up with zodiacs /
in temporarily strange skies." ("In Nicaragua, Again")