Thursday, February 26, 2009

Self-Portrait with Severed Head by CD COLLINS

Self-Portrait with Severed Head.
By C.D. Collins
2009; 56pp; Pa; Ibbetson Street
Press, 25 School St., Somerville,
MA 02143. $15.00.

To order:


There’s a tremendously strong, aesthetically erotic and impressionistic sense of the Here and Now here, but always contextualized by time and death so you feel you’re walking through a kind of ephemeral Louvre that is vanishing as you walk through it: “Beyond the jobs,/the traffic, the wind,/beyond aqua stars/I’ll let you spin/Like a cosmonaut into ether,/released without a sound...// When I finish you,/asking nothing of you. When I finish you,/at last loving you.// Beyond the jobs,/the traffic, the wind,/beyond aqua stars/I’ll let you spin/like falling/like falling.” (“Blood Orange,” pp.33-34).

The poetry here is powerfully evocative and Collins turns the page into a reality that never really leaves you: “Along the Champs-Elysées,/the homeless men lie in the middle of the sidewalk.../They lie on their sides or they crouch on their knees./Each has drawn a chalk balloon above his head./Inside is written his story.../I am without a home in Paris./I have no job./I am a poor Frenchman./I am Jamaican./ They all end, Merci.” (“Champs-Elysés,” p.49).

The French touch helps, the low-key eroticism, the socio-economic/historial overview, all very impressionistic and almost fin de siecle, very much in the twenty-first century but with strong immersions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century capture-all-you-can mystique, giving her work a remarkable overviewing sense of running-down (and-out) time. Listening to her read with the Rockabetty band in the background on her CD Carousel Lounge you see just what a major word-/world-view magician we have here.

* Hugh Fox is a founding editor of the Pushcart Prize and the author of "Way, Way Off the Road: Memoirs of the Invisible Man" ( Ibbetson Street Press)

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