Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Theory of Creation by John Bennett

The Theory of Creation
John Bennett
Vagabond Press
605 E. 5th Avenue
Ellensburg, WA  98926

Review by Rene Schwiesow

“The Theory of Creation” is part of a trilogy.  The other two books are “War All the Time” and “The Birth of Road Rage.”   In the forward, Bennett tells us: “The shards in ‘The Theory of Creation’ were written over a span of time ranging from the mid 1990’s until late in 2004.”  As you read the shards you may find that some appear to be written after 9/11.  In fact, Bennett says they were written years earlier.  His explanation:  “. . .if you’ve got your finger on the pulse, you can hear the beating heart of the future.”

A crowded bus making its way through Manhattan.
People packed into seats and standing up
jammed together.  No one speaks.  Everyone’s
eyes are the same.  There is a faint knowing, an
even fainter surprise.  They’re detached from
illusion until it’s their turn to get off.  There’s
nothing to act on.

This may sound devoid of hope and while Bennett also offers us end lines such as:  “Dry-sperm floats thru the air like cottonwood in a postpartum world,” we are not left hopeless:

Expectation is the readiness to burst into light
in a pitch-black existence.

In “The Business of Luck” all hope seems at an end and yet, from my personal perspective the end three lines of the work remind me of the final scene in “The Grapes of Wrath.”  Rose of Sharon is devoid of hope after the stillborn birth of her child, yet is able to provide sustenance to a starving man on the floor of a boxcar by offering him the milk of her breasts.

You arrived on the scene rolling snake eyes.
You’ve been huddled in boxcars forever.
You’ve gone tits up in the business of luck.

And still, perhaps we are able to offer something of value, to offer hope to someone, somewhere.

In a shard entitled “Plain Speak” Bennett says: “Something much worse has transpired than what Orwell (in “1984”) foresaw.”  Yet, the juxtaposition between despair and hope that he has kept going throughout the book ends with an awe-inspiring hopeful moment:

Overhead a hawk is gliding on the wind against
a clear sky.  I switch off NPR and silence swoops
down over us like the hand of God.  James slides
his earphones down around his neck and leans
over the front seat to look out the windshield
at the hawk, and for an instant, in that silence,
we all three know exactly where it is that we
came from.

Life is a paradox.

Rene Schwiesow is a poet/writer/editor/reviewer and co-host of the wildly popular South Shore venue The Art of Words in Plymouth, MA.

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