Sunday, May 31, 2009


by Linda M. Fischer

Julia Carlson has few illusions about the “drifting slumbering lives” we lead—at best
a tenuous existence. Her thematic concerns are mortality and consequent loss, and the concomitant search for meaning or redemption. In her chapbook Drift she explores lives that have touched hers—a widower whose anguish over the loss of his wife is compounded by guilt, the spectacle of a neighbor’s house being burned to the ground upon his death, an aged Comanche in South Dakota reflecting on the tribal life obliterated within his living memory, her boyfriend’s grandfather leaving a lifetime of memories behind in Oklahoma and moving east to live out his twilight years, the passage of what we know of life in “Places to Go” (dedicated to Mike Amato), concluding with its redemptive final lines:

Life depends on forward movement
And walking upright towards the end

To the final demise where things no longer matter
Cannot matter and no further explanation counts

But most of all the great wall where standing
We breathe leap easily and fall laughing at last.

Attuned to the brevity of life, she chides the lovelorn in her opening poem: “Have you made up your mind about life (and/or) death…hurry up and decide…The sun is red-hot; it’s sinking fast and setting soon.” She affirms this urgency in “Kingdom,” enjoining a young girl to stop by a meadow of an afternoon and drink in its loveliness—“This moment belongs only to you/ You never know if you will see it again/ And some will never see it at all,” a carpe diem theme that reappears in “Stabbed to the Heart” where she is being driven by “relentless demons/ Hoping to beat them to the finish/ Before they finish me off/ Once and for all.” In taking stock of her own life (“Sixty”), her birth coinciding with the extinction of the Caspian tiger, Carlson would hold her inevitable demise at bay, praying fervently “that somehow somewhere/ A piece of his wildness lives in one still.” I can relate to that!

------Linda Fischer is a regular contributor to "Ibbetson Street" Her poetry has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Mobius, Byline, and others...

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