Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Mudanca: Poems by Kevin Cutrer

Kevin Cutrer
Poems by Kevin Cutrer
Dos Madres Press Inc.
Loveland, Ohio
ISBN: 978-1-948017-31-2
35 Pages

Review by Dennis Daly

Never underestimate the power of exuberance. Never, never underestimate the creative power of love’s exuberance. Kevin Cutrer’s new book Mudanca sings a melody of love like nothing I’ve heard in years. Can this be the return of courtly love? The poet’s words radiate authenticity as they reel through an emotional cross-cultural ether. Art, metrics, all of it fade into the distant background as Cutrer pulses out his evanescent, barely containable, joy.

Mispronunciations and other verbal missteps made by Cutrer’s persona in the opening poem, To the Woman for Whom He Is Learning Portuguese, become gentle love tokens as the poet woos and assures his lover that she is indeed his muse. Hilarity and amorous self-deprecation rule as the poem begins,

You must write about me. I’m your Moose!

O Moose, sing to me of the man who ordered pizza
by asking the waitress for a spanking, extra cheese.
The man who said, when introduced to your mother,
I am so pleased to meet you… Carrot.

Those are garlic bulbs that were my eyes.
The cheap dictionary turns roach faster
than you can say Gregor Samsa, scurries off,
and with it any hope of telling the barber not to short.

Cutrer, like all true lovers, considers separation from his lover anathema. His world also shrinks into the original garden, where he as Adam and his lover as Eve reign again as the center of the animate world. In the poem entitled Sepatos Cutrer laments the loneliness, even if temporary, which often plagues new-found love,

I can’t help feeling like some article
you didn’t need and didn’t pack,
like this pair of sneakers you abandoned
to the cold tiles of the bedroom floor.
At least they make one pair. I’m only one.
What will you wear on your bakery walk,
your morning quest for pao doce?
Will I have the appetite to breakfast alone?
I sit on the edge of our bed staring
at the blue canvas, the laces gray
with street dust, and my slouch deepens.
I touch the laces and say sapos,
my apprentice tongue transforming shoes
into toads, and off they hop…

With love comes magic. Cutrer, given a mango by his beloved, discovers its inherent enchantment. His lover as a child would race her sisters to the mango tree, then climb to its heights in an effort to win nature’s succulent prize. The poet succumbs to his muse
and imagines it in this charming way,

I see you perched on a branch
the marmosets fled in fright of you,
gloating as you hold your trophy aloft,
Stone-hearted tear larger than a heart,
And your sisters grunt their way toward you.
With a shining blade you trim off
whirligigs of mango peels
letting them drop…drop…your eyes falling
after them, past Eva, past Alba, landing
on roots that spill like the tresses of a witch’s
head of hair, root twining over root,
sprawled on the earth like petrified fire.

Perfect love songs say nothing. They simply tag an internal, searing need to available words that provide life-enhancing rhythms. Those rhythms can convey insuppressible joy or unendurable sadness. In his wonderfully written poem entitled Yes, Cutrer does both. He takes his reader from the rarified freedom of physical health through the flickering whispers of sedentary illness. Or from timelessness to a ticking clock. Here are a few of the poet’s more joyous lines,

Something in me said say yes,
say yes, and so I said yes, yes, let’s dance.
On the floor you giggled at what I called
my moves and kissed me for pity’s sake.

Can I see you again? Yes. Move in with me? Yes.

Yes to Brazil and the dilatory days.
Yes to Boston and the deciduous years.
Yes to anywhere and anywhen with you.

A lover often adores items associated with his beloved. Cutrer praises his Brazilian lady by lauding her birth county’s currency. Each detail seems in bas relief. Each color nourishes a new beginning. He marvels at the wonders provided to him in compensation for his simple teaching chores,

And like a stall in the ark each bill houses
a subject of the animal kingdom.
A macaw peers with piratical eye.
A jaguar drapes her arm across a branch.

Sea turtles soar in a blue bay, frayed
in the interchange from hand to hand,
folded three-fold upon itself and stuffed
into a man’s shirt pocket, showing through the white.

I earn my weekly menagerie
preaching the verb to be.

Mudanca, a Brazilian word for change and this collection’s title poem, chronicles love’s transformative powers. Cutrer conjures up grade-school embarrassments and subsequent long-standing fears. Typical stuff but, nevertheless, traumatic. An early attempt at dancing takes a disastrous turn. Even his school teacher shows distain. Ouch! But all of this is a setup to showcase love’s exhilarating intervention,

You ask
if I like to dance. Something in me
says say yes, say yes. So, I say yes.
It is all happening now
all in one moment
my first disastrous dance
our last I cannot see
in whatever catastrophe
awaits us to part us
some other where in time
I try not dare not think
but how can I not when
I awake and wake you
kiss the dark spot
on your finger one
more time one more turn
in the dance we began
that evening in Somerville…

Yes, dear readers, there are still troubadours among us. Cutrer, with this short, lovely collection, confirms it.

No comments:

Post a Comment