Friday, January 13, 2012
Publisher/Editor: Brian Morrisey
Boston Editor: Doug Holder
Contributing Editor: Joe Pachinko
Review by Dennis Daly
Some covers tease. Some lure. Some enhance. The cover of Poesy XXXIX tests. A photograph of a grime-encrusted broken foam- cushioned chair with rolling arms, going to seed, the type often found in the darkened corners of factories, or homeless camps, offers the reader a choice. Either rest here, exchange funky molecules with the garish fabric, and be conveyed to places avant-garde, or pass it by to seek more sanitized, de-odorized, and perhaps academic, comfort.
If you decide to sit, you’ve passed the test and will match up fine with the artistic innards of this periodical. Now go to the back cover. Here you will find an extraordinary eulogy by A.D. Winans, entitled For Scott Wannberg. This jazzy piece offers a central metaphor with an attached simile like no other. Winans speaks of the dead poet as a butterfly in the way in which he lifted the spirits of those around him. So far, not that unusual.
Winans next explains that the way the butterfly lifts one’s spirits is “like a forklift.” That stopped me: a butterfly and a forklift? But, you know, it does work. I have not a little familiarity with forklifts and know the feel of the steady power lifting enormous weights skyward. That, together with the winged flitter of inspiration and delicateness suggested by a butterfly—well, damn if it doesn’t work. This same poem ends with a beautiful touch of wisdom,
Judge not a person by their supposed achievements
Judge that person like you would judge a song
Not by its words and melody
But by the way it lifts the spirit and the soul.
Inside the issue, the poem, Beyond the Bend by G. A. Scheinoha, takes your breath away. A poem’s creation is conjured up,
first by the languid
stream of syllables,
broken only by
rock hard consonants
jutting up from
the white water churn
The language is precise and wondrous
Another poem, One Thousand Abbie Hoffmans, recalls an earlier time of innocent hilarity and freedom. Whatever became of my copies of Revolution for the Hell of It and Steal This Book anyway? John Dorsey, the author, gets it right in his last four lines,
You knew mambo when you saw it
Knew dreams by the way
they kissed your skin
for a taste of freedom.
Tiny Photographs, a poem by Bruce McRae, oozes resistance and contrariness with these imagistic lines,
A monk burning
on a busy motorway
A stop sign
with a bullethole in it
A woman’s mouth
colored with smudged
A Conversation with Sam Cornish by Doug Holder is not so much a conversation as a reflection on a meeting and conversation with Boston Poet Laureate Cornish. Holder, besides being an accomplished poet himself, is a terrific interviewer. He virtually erases himself from the piece, putting Cornish front and center. Holder uses a gritty Cornish poem, Dog Town Slim, dually for atmospherics and to prove a point—that Cornish is one tough street poet.
Two words not usually associated (at least in my mind) with a poet laureate are community and outreach. Holder tacks these words onto Cornish reinforcing his argument that Cornish, despite his formal title, is not one of the mandarins, the careerists of the poetic world. In fact Cornish marshals the advantages of his title in support of those “holy fools,” who write for the love of it. Holder’s admiration of Cornish couldn’t be more palpable.
Solid artwork in the form of photographs add to and punctuate this issue. My favorites are two window scenes by T. Kilgore Splake. One juxtaposes Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa’s subtle smile with a broad sculptured laughing face sitting on a window sill. The other portrays an older man, in silhouette, catching his breath, perhaps, in front of a lighted, seasonally decorated window.
I also liked very much the reprint of Scott Wannberg’s, The Rain Came Down Collect. Wannberg, before his death, was apparently a beloved supporter and friend of Poesy. A number of this issue’s poets dedicated their pieces to him.
In the poem itself Wannberg expresses his compassion for the hurt and broken people, who seek healing,
The doctor sits high up on a tree limb,
Searching through binoculars,
The healing will arrive soon, I hear
Don’t quite know which train will bring it.
What is also apparent is Wannberg’s belief in the curative powers of legitimate art,
Bring your wounded luggage,
Bring your passion and your hope.
Some things still mean,
Despite rhetoric, lies, and misdealt cards.
Of the many other interesting poems in this issue, one prose poem really struck me—Edgar Allen Poe by Ralph Malachowski. The interplay between Poe’s spun black magic and the reader/admirer is stunning. These two lines describe one heart’s connection with Poe’s vision,
Edgar Allen became a bas relief of grief appearing briefly before our besotted eyes.
Our occult groom will bloom in our heart’s greenhouse, watered by blasphemy, fed by doom.