Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Resisting II: Selected Vignettes The Resisting III: Selected Poetry By Meg Founds

The Resisting II: Selected Vignettes
The Resisting III: Selected Poetry
By Meg Founds
Illustrations by Michael Shores
Hawkpond Press
Printed by Red Sun Press
Boston MA
No price

Review by Dennis Daly

Both of these chapbooks ooze production value. The poems and vignettes were all set up as poems and seem interchangeable, so I read them and treat them for the purposes of this review as all poems. The illustrations alone are worth the price of each chapbook (whatever those prices are). The illustrations are illogical and dream-like, more surreal than romantic, more dada than fantasy. That said, many of the poems connect wonderfully with their allotted illustration. In the poem The Migraine the poet details a delightful side effect of her migraine, one that overshadows the debilitating headache. Not easy to do. This side effect is called synesthesia, or transferred sensation. Here are the key lines,

Simultaneous perception
I saw little white butterflies or moths flutter
From the tip of our Christmas tree
And at the very same time I smelled cinnamon
Wafting into the room from the kitchen
Where there was no one baking.

The picture on the opposite page strikes all the right chords as you read the poem including minimizing the suffering from the migraine.
The poem Gone Fishin’ At Old St. Paul’s juxtaposes a bucolic day of lake fishing with grave stones and cemetery mourners.  The mourners are laying flowers down for their loved ones and at the same time showing curiosity about the day's catch. Resolution comes from an unexpected source,

Organ music wafted from the church
Someone had forgotten to lock the instrument
But the music sounded appropriate and proper
A medley, a backdrop for mourners
And fishermen alike.

Paired with this poem is the picture of a romanticized angel playing a mandolin at the intersection of a coast scene and a country scene with geometric lines to stress the imposition of the figure on another context and its artificiality.  It works!
A poem entitled Chicken Heaven, on the face of it, is a funny recitation of parental love and the security children usually find in repetition. The child would be asked where her pet chicken was each time she was driven past the hen house. “There’s Henrietta,” she would say. This poem gives more credit to the child than is normally given. The poem concludes this way,

Then one day as we were returning
From Ann Arbor
The Chicken was gone
We asked Molly, “Where’s Henrietta?”
And Molly answered, “Gone to Chicken Heaven!”

The oddball picture on the opposite page shows the ladder to a chicken coop going up through clouds. Angel wings also proliferate. Two parental birds stand at attention nearby.  I left these pages feeling uneasy.
The Giant, a poem which depicts a dead giant ray of some sort that has been washed in with the tide, opens for inspection its real subject: the minds of the onlookers. Imaginations are mirrored on the opposite page by a fantastical monster with bird eyes and exposed lungs and fish-like head. The poet comes to his point with these lines,

Engendering more than fascination
From the human onlookers
This dead, smelly giant rolls to a stop
On the sand
And is moved
By each concurrent wave.

Many of these poems are intrinsically tied to their illustrations (keep in mind that not all of them are illustrated). One such poem is The Mildew Man.  The poem is almost a refrain cosmically afloat. It starts,

what a nice guy
he’s the mildew man
the mildew man
what a bright sky
he’s the stars
he’s the star man.

There is a curious poem at the end of Resisting III called Nutrition From the Womb. This poem on the surface discusses cravings and calcium. I think it really is pointing out the constant remake of the human soul and the need for lifelong replenishment of sensory and possibly spiritual data. Or perhaps the human skull across from the poem has just woken up new fears of mortality in me. The poet says,

Does this mean I must choke down
Six calcium tablets a day
Because I am large boned?

Does it make sense I must replenish
What I already have?

I think it does. Nice metaphor!

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