Saturday, May 04, 2013

Go to the Pine: Quoddy Journals 2005-2010 Mark Pawlak

Mark Pawlak

Go to the Pine:
Quoddy Journals 2005-2010
by Mark Pawlak
Bootstrap Press
Lowell MA
Copyright © 2012 by Mark Pawlak
47 pages, softbound, $15
Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Two years ago New Directions issued a book edited by Jeffrey Yang entitled Birds, Beasts and Seas, Nature Poems from New Directions. Had Mark Pawlak’s Go to the Pine: Quoddy Journals 2005-2010 appeared there is no doubt at least one of the poems in his book would have been included.
Pawlak’s poems are more than just poems, they are paintings a verbal presentation of what an artist would perceive when painting in oils or watercolors. For example, the opening poem, 31:VII:05 is something so visual, that you are certain you have seen the scene before:

"White-haired, middle-aged woman dressed in black jersey, black jeans, black rubber boots, combing among stubbly pilings of a gone Eastport wharf at low tide, her yellow Labrador retriever leading the way. Aged dragger moored to rusty red buoy off-shore; hull drab green, cabin, white—both badly in need of fresh paint. Lone sailboat plying wind-riffled waters of the bay: white hull, white mast, puffed white jib. Boxy houses, white-sided with black roofs, (but for one roof that’s brick red), perch on stilts on rocky ledges up and down the shore. Farther east Camp(o)bello(o) Island, a furzy line drawn with sprucy-gray crayon; silvery arch of the International Bridge, Bay of "Fundy beyond."

We have all been there. The woman in black, the corroding dragger and snappy sailboat, the houses and ocean, the islands and spruce trees. Pawlak brings it all back, brings us back to the dream-like real world where we might like to be if we didn’t have our daily lives.
In 7:VIII:05 he has an encounter we might all enjoy:

Coming over the rise
upon apparition:
deer in the road,
wide-eyed, quizzical—
doe & me both.
Then blink-of-an-eye gone.
(Who blinked first?)
Fog. Fog in headlights.

Again he has drawn a sketch of a moment in time when we exchange a look with nature that may never be repeated, indeed, perhaps the fog make us think it never occurred. And that it was just a painting or a dream.

Pawlak also finds poems in signs. In Quoddy Journal 2006 on 26:VII:06 he presents a newspaper and a sign:
Bangor Daily News:
"The Brady Gang came to Maine in the fall of 1937 for the same reasons 21st century criminals venture north of Boston—seafood, foliage, and guns."
Guns? Ah, guns!

There are more signs, an advertisement "squeezed between the pages of a spiral notebook" and other writings that Pawlak can magically turn into found poetry.
And there’s always one of my favorites which ends with the "tongue of the ocean insinuating itself."
Ahhh, this is a book of poems (mixed poetry, prose poetry, found poetry and verbal painting) which calm the soul and bring smiles to the lips.
Savor this one and keep on your shelf to read and re-read.
Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene

Author, King of the Jungle and Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthologies 7& 8

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