Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Poetry Today: Trends and Traditions 8

Compiled and Critiqued by
Anthony Servante






Welcome, dear readers, to our eighth venture into the criticism of modern poetry from artists, authors, and actors. What we aim to do here each month is gauge the direction today's poetry is taking, whether it is echoing the traditional standards set by the classical poets of yesteryear or establishing new trends in wordsmithing. But before we begin, allow me to remind you of the rules for our critiques. As a scholarly writer for over 20 years, we have a basic premise we follow when reviewing poetry: The work must stand on its own. We, as critics, cannot analyze the works by their history, the poets' assessments or explanations of the work, or by psychological transference; the poetry must speak for itself. Oftentimes, poets send me a annotation of the poem so that I will better understand it. I'm courteous enough to read the poet's background notes, but always after I've finished my critique. So, let's begin. 

With us today, we have seven poets: Naomi Quiñonez, Jaye Tomas, Sydney Leigh, Rafael L. Lopez, Kim Acrylic, Katt Dunsmore, and Viggo Mortensen. 

We begin with the "Latina Poet Laureate of California", Naomi Quiñonez .   


Purchase Book Here


Ms. Quiñonez 

Biography:

In her first book, Sueno de Colibri/Hummingbird Dream (West End Press, 1985), Naomi Quiñonez celebrated the years of struggle in East L.A. when the Chicano movement received its baptism under fire.

From early in her poetic career she celebrated the heart along with the head, advocating strong feminist values in her political community.

Having traveled widely in the United States in the last two decades, she has reaffirmed her conviction that “art can transcend the boundaries that separate people from one another.”

She currently teaches at California State College at Fullerton.


The Poem:

We Are All Connected

We are all connected
to the belly of the earth
Each soul kicking-out
Flames fed by the heat,
of magma, lava and crust.
Billions of umbilical cords
Tied to a common center.
We are a bouquet of flowers
balloons and bellies
that cannot escape
each others breath
cannot escape
each other’s divine imperfect lives
Or profane and comic deaths.
This is how I know the pain
Of flesh sliced to pieces
By instigated metal
Cutting through air
To make its mark
On children huddled
In futile corners
Of scattered rubble. 
This is how I feel
The twisted gut-wrenched cry
Of desperation
In the torn stomachs of women
Who watch loved ones
Explode into heaps of useless ash.
Yesterday’s frightened eyes
Melting into pockets of charred skin.

This is how I see
A civilization disappear
Under a blood-stained blanket
Held by men armed with lies and terror
Another piece of humanity
Ripped out of the womb
Of mother earth
Another dream of peace
Raped at gunpoint.
My belly is a heavy weight
I carry into the uncertainty
Of each hesitant day.
My heart is a bruised
Eruption
Of haphazard futures.

The center tugs hard
Yanks the collective heart
Clears the common eye
Pulls the blood from our tangled veins.
And if you don’t feel this
You are lying.


The Critique:

We Are All Connected works as a metaphor for birth, the Earth acting as the pregnant entity giving life to every living thing on the planet. It is at once a grotesque image ("Billions of umbilical cords") and a sublime thought ("We are a bouquet of flowers"). But it is quite fascinating how Naomi extends the metaphor beyond the "We are all one" theme. Her perfect union is a mix of "imperfections", "profane and comic deaths". This is not Heaven. We are reminded that "Earth" is pleasure and pain.

By extension, her "birth" includes a cesarean section: "This is how I know the pain/Of flesh sliced to pieces/
By instigated metal" and "This is how I feel/The twisted gut-wrenched cry/Of desperation/In the torn stomachs of women". Furthermore, just as a mother watches her children grow closer to death everyday, the Earth watches her " loved ones/Explode into heaps of useless ash."

In the next extension of the metaphor, abortions transition from c-sections. The children, or creations of Earth, then transform to "civilizations", peoples, who are "Ripped out of the womb/Of mother earth" like the unwanted creature of a "rapist". Here Naomi compares the plight of the Earth as Mother to a rape victim carrying her baby to an undetermined term or future: " My belly is a heavy weight/I carry into the uncertainty
Of each hesitant day..../Of haphazard futures."

Humanity is depicted as a tangle of "veins" tied to Earth, a complexity of relationships and conflicts, a tangled whole of individuals who feel the pull of the umbilical cords and the commonality of a singular mankind tied to the same arteries. And, Quiñonez warns us, "if you don’t feel this/You are lying." Because we cannot deny the empathy our common emotions, our pain, our pleasure, love and hate. To deny any such empathy would make us liars. And to accept the truth makes us brothers and sisters. A lovely sentiment hidden behind the grotesque lesson.   
********


Jaye Tomas



The Ethereal Ms. Tomas


Biography:

Jaye Tomas has be a "scribbler" all of her life, but the Internet provided a way to more easily share it. Creating Chimera Poetry (blog & facebook page) has been an incredible experience. The fact that anyone reads what she writes is a constant source of amazement and gratitude to her. Her biggest obsession is books and her reading tastes are eclectic to say the least: Tolkien, Lovecraft, Gaiman, Plath, Ellison, Christie, Aaronovitch, Yeats, Blake, King, Barker, Straub, Lopez, Maugham, Poznansky .....to name a very few. Originally from the windy suburbs of Chicago she now resides in the UK. Lately she has been casting her eyes in the direction of Italy, but hasn't completely settled on that.....yet. It may be back to the USA, it may be Edinburgh, it may be Gallifrey..... the beauty of the story is in the journey, not the arrival.
https://www.facebook.com/jaye.tomas.7 (Jaye Tomas on facebook)
https://www.facebook.com/chimerapoet (Chimera Poetry on facebook)


The Poetry: 

Nocturnes Collection –

Nocturnes
Nocturnes, Night Singers, sirens of the dark
The unwary snared in their fathomless gaze
Eyes of violet promising delight while relentless hunger
seethes unseen
Capering
while their bewitchment sung
draws ever tighter the binding
The old order eroded with the runes of power
Which held the singers in thrall
Lilith beckons now raven now jungle cat
a thing of sharp teeth and claw
Cruelty for hot bloods sake

Nocturnes 2
Nocturnes move amidst the night-time multitude
persistently unnoticed in the graying light
Masks fixed in place, smiles too
Hiding a glittering malevolence
the swirl of smoke blown back into the bottle
and held with incantations old as iron
Merlin’s will long held sway
against the undoing
but moonscape and nightmare exert their tidal pull
secure in knowledge that time and legends pass
until one glance too long into a looking glass
the snake charmer only holds the gaze, ‘tis the snake
who wields the magic

Nocturnes 3
Nocturnes, nightsingers, sirens of the dark
thief, breaker of bones
their shackles undone
eroded by time and disbelief
risen unchained,
unbound now travel with the moon
raven wings enchant
her sorceress wiles inflame
her song, her fragrance
burns through you,
binds you to her in love
and terror
and a desire so dark
it holds no memory of the light
you sink into beguiling eyes
your craving begins
twisting through your marrow
born in a second of splintered bewilderment
and sweetly gleaming fangs...

Nocturnes 4 (Owl Goddess)
No living breath stirs the leaves
claws extended she settles on the highest branch
tossing back her long claret hair
Opal sheened her eyes gaze heavy lidded
with farsight
into the forest as the shadows grow
an owl bows before her
while hawk and raven wheel above
calling out with awe and adoration for the huntress
the First
the merciless one
death comes on silent wings for the unwary
or the too trusting
her madness is that of wild things
rapacious hunger and desire
swollen and layered through the centuries
like a poisonous pearl uncompromising
uncaring
knowing neither time nor season
only the now
and the tempestuous winds
as she moves inexorably through the ages
ever and always beautifully
ruthlessly
and gracefully insane

Nocturnes 5 – The Moon
The children of the night looked to the sky
and sang sang
of the hunt
the chase
the thrill of the catch and the moment the hot blood spills
I sang their songs with them
joined my voice to theirs
paean to the moon
the silvery goddess
rising full of cool light and hungers
the myths spoke of night singers night walkers
embracing the hunter and the shadows
and of the thirst
I spoke them to the fold
the children the gathering
so they knew from where
from who they sprung
created memories and honed the edges of revenge
The elders wrote the legends
in runes of silver
mirroring the tattoos running through
our night sheened skin
I read them and kept them in safety and in secret
the growing library of the hidden
the hungry
royalty of midnight
pale children of the huntress moon


The Critique:

Let me say straight out: I chose to publish THE NOCTURNES COLLECTION as one piece and will review it as such. Thank you.

The Nocturnes Collection consists of five parts. Each part deals with themes of the night. The symbolism concentrates around nocturnal activities and creatures. Initially Jaye introduces us to the "night sirens" with their songs leading the unwary travelers to an early demise. Then Lilith appears and "beckons now raven now jungle cat". Summoning "Lilith" brings a lot of history to the introduction. During the English Romanantic Period, she was seen as a vampire who fed on the blood of children. But nearly every religion and myth has a "Lilith-type" character: from Mother of Satan, succubus, or predator of pregnant women. It is an interesting turn to have her here as a "siren" changeling. Lilith is beautiful, making her evil attractive, just as the song of the siren lures men to their death.

Tomas transitions from Lilith to "Merlin" and an age of magic. In contrast to Merlin's use of "white magic", the "Nocturnes" use black magic, wearing "Masks fixed in place, smiles too/Hiding a glittering malevolence:. Even as the old magician wields his spells over the serpent of the night, "‘tis the snake who wields the magic". Just as Lilith was a contrast of beauty and wickedness, magic here is represented by light and dark forces.

Nocturnes 3 sets Lilith in motion "her sweetly gleaming fangs". The serpent now melds with the "sorceress". The "raven" represents the foreboding of the night, and this piece of the collection serves as a warning to men to beware as "her song, her fragrance/burns through you". The further use of the pronoun "you" and the possessive "your" underscore the foreshadowing of Lilith's arriving with the night.

Nocturnes 4 (Owl Goddess) revolves around flight and birds as symbols of predators of the night. As Lilith transforms to a flying creature (it is not clear what appearance she has taken; she bears claws, rather than talons), while the night creatures adore her: "an owl bows before her/while hawk and raven wheel above/
calling out with awe and adoration for the huntress". Here the contrast continues from the serpent of the earth to the "bird-like" creature of the air.

Nocturnes 5 The Moon shifts from Lilith to the myth of this enchantress. The "children", one of whom is the narrator of the five poems, worship the arrival of the bloodthirsty siren. They speak highly of her: "the myths spoke of night singers night walkers/embracing the hunter and the shadows". And here in the night, the narrator tells the story, the myth, once more, a tradition of followers.

The symmetry of the Nocturnes Collection reveals a thematic development in contrasts: mother as life-giver and mother as life-taker, white magic and dark, serpents and birds. And all these elements meld to embody Lilith, beauty and evil combined. Jaye Tomas has captured the innocent "bogey-man" story of Lilith and has turned it into a series of poems that at once recreate the legend of this beautiful succubus and spin a story best told by the light of the moon.


********



Sydney Leigh


Shawna L. Bernard a.k.a. Sydney Leigh


Biography:

Shawna L. Bernard is a freelance writer, editor, photographer, artist, English teacher, and native of the North Shore. Her poetry, prose, and photography has appeared in Merrimack Valley Magazine, local art exhibits, and on bar napkins across the country. Her first edited anthology, Cellar Door: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror, is a collection of poetry, fiction, and artwork which won a Gothic Readers Book Choice Award last November. She also recently joined forces with Villipede Publications, one of the finest small presses in the industry.
Shawna's darkest fiction and horror is written under the guise of her literary double, Sydney Leigh. Sydney's poetry and short fiction has appeared in the Demonic Visions 50 Horror Tales series, Hellnotes’ Horror in a Hundred, Daily Bites of Flesh, Horrified Press’s Nightmare Illustrated, and numerous other publications. In 2013, she edited her second anthology and also won First Place in the Inner Sins Webzine Cross Words contest.
Her poem “The Undertaker’s Melancholy” is scheduled to appear in the upcoming Darkness Ad Infinitum anthology from Villipede Publications, and she has short fiction due to be released in the next issues of Demonic Visions and Nightmare Illustrated. She is proudly slated for inclusion in Firbolg Publishing's 2014 Enter at Your Own Risk: The End is the Beginning with her dark gothic fairy tale short, “Rabenschwarz”, which will debut at the 2014 World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon.
Her best friend is a Border Collie, and despite holding degrees in English, Psychology, and Graphic Design, she spends most of her free time doing her teenage son’s laundry. She also trains dogs, rehabilitates wildlife, and always keeps a bag packed for spontaneous road trips with her imaginary roommate, Ted.
Websites and Links
Villipede Publications: http://villipede.com/
Villipede Publications on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VillipedePublications
Look for her website, “the spider box” sometime later this year.


The Poem:

Flesh, Blood, and Bones

It happens at night.
The thin, salty flesh crawls across your bones,
looking for its way home.

It finds, instead, too many mistakes—
grooves and speed bump calcifications,
a poor reward for living.

It doesn’t fit.
If you think about it,
it almost makes sense. Almost.

You told him slowly, carefully,
as the blood drained in haste, that the doves flew away
too soon. The water

still rippled on the lake,
cool, blue steel
shook like a sheet.

The flesh stretches over your face,
holes left for you to see. Hear.
Breathe. Scream. Love. Lick. Lie.

Alone, wishing
you had reached deeper,
that the skin was more…forgiving.

Could you let it go this way?
Allow for a fall
from grace? From higher

up
than you knew they could fly?
Stand aside. It’s moving again.

Shawna L. Bernard


The Critique: 

Sydney Leigh uses tercet stanzas in her poem, Flesh, Blood, and Bones. This three-line form harkens to Dante's Inferno, though the rhymed tercet was used there. But a prose form of the tercet is a welcomed venue for modern poetry as it echoes the traditions of the great authors of yesteryear, while maintaining a new modern approach with its lack of rhyme. But to the theme. Is the unrhymed tercet aptly applied here?

The poem is a philosophical account of the creation. Its theme: The flesh of man is flawed. Thus, the words are suited to the theme. Subtly blasphemous, openly critical. Life is designed for death: "The thin, salty flesh crawls across your bones,/looking for its way home." Home, of course, being the grave. Note that such thoughts occur at night. But the flesh, the symbolically living part of the body, the tactile or tangible matter, finds only the skeleton (the death symbol of the living person), "calcifications,/a poor reward for living."

Further adding to the fragile construct of the human body, Leigh adds, "The flesh stretches over your face,/
holes left for you to see. Hear./Breathe. Scream. Love. Lick. Lie." Note the conflict between "Breathe" and "Scream". Birth and death. Then Sydney questions the reason behind our fated state of being: "Alone, wishing.../that the skin was more…forgiving." But this observation leads only to more rhetorical questions: "Could you let it go this way?/Allow for a fall/from grace?" Yet she has no answers, for she begs the questions and supplies what little explanation she can: "It’s moving again." It, referring to the flesh of the first tercet, returns in the form of infants who are cursed with the same fate as their parents.

Sydney Leigh does not discuss the cycle of life in magical moments, blessed days and nights where sleep, dream, and wakefulness are equal stages of growth. Rather, she sees this cycle as a flawed fatality inherent with our first breath to our last. At night, we will always consider the journey of the flesh, from the "bones" to the boneyard. Lovely turn. Worthy of Shelley and Keats. 

********



Rafael L. Lopez

Mr. Lopez 




Rafael L. Lopez is a poet, writer, actor, artist, knight and more who resides in Southern California when not off crafting magic within his world of Eath. Inspired by the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, his favorite author, he first conjured ideas for Eath as the base for a boardgame at age eleven. Recording his visions, he began developing a vast history and culture for the land's kingdoms and inhabitants, then by his eighteenth birthday completed the first draft of Volume One for a book series titled THE LEGEND OF MIRALD, along with short stories about a hero named Lastenberg. Between the ages of sixteen and seventeen he had also composed a collection of poems for Eath, thereafter inventing the names and lives of fictitious poets with different styles and voices. A WORLD OF WORDS is the result, a volume of verse introducing his elaborate fantasy.


A Winter’s Meadow

By Delnia Watterboo

Softly does the leaf fall
When the tree is cold
And there is nothing growing at all.
Yet young she is, not old.
Winter, however, hath no care
For youth or age, both freeze
From her chill air.
'Winter!' I call, 'Please!
Leave me one flower!
A patch of grass!
Or one more hour!'
No pleas are granted to this lass
And Winter comes to claim
Every green, everything.
And the tree where birds came
Displays no stage for them to sing
Only bare coldness.
And the last leaf she falls
Ends the tree's colorful boldness.
Yet with the leaf, Winter it seems she stalls
For it hovers in the breeze
Like a memory
That soon flees.
Like a soothing end to a story
When you know the end is nigh
And indulge in every word
Until it comes and you finish with a sigh.
I hung upon every moment until my eyes blurred.
It seemed Winter's chill would take me too
So I turned as the leaf landed
To meet a blanket's embrace and bowl of stew
But halted as a pine tree before me standed
Green as ever
Brilliant and glistening with flakes of snow.
Was it so beautiful before? Never!
Winter had fallen all green for this show
’Twas the Pine's turn to be admired.


The Critique:

Rafael L. Lopez has created a Science Fiction universe where there are poets who write of their worlds. Of course, Rafael is the persona behind each of these poets. A very promising conceit, and I covered his book, A WORLD OF WORDS last year. Here and now, I wish to look at the poem by Delnia Watterboo, namely, Rafael L. Lopez. I will be referring to Rafael as I discuss the poem, for Delnia is only part of the poem itself.

A Winter's Meadow opens with a focus on a tree dropping its last leaf as Autumn turns to Winter. The tree is personified as feeling "cold" as "Yet young she is, not old." Winter, too, demonstrates a peronified apathy for the trees' dilemma ("Winter hath no care".). We also see the employment of a rhyme scheme similar to the love poems of the Victorian Era. But there's a modern twist that we'll come to soon. Besides the ababcdcdefef, etc., rhyme structure, the story of the winter and the trees seem like a throwback to a older time of poetry.

Here the story of the poem depicts a cruel winter, a hapless tree pleading for its last flower to a deaf winter, and finally to the pine tree, whose green needles maintain their color during the cold season. The pine ignores winter just as the season of chills and ice turn its back on the trees of Spring. And just as winter is prideful of its power over the weaker trees, so, too, is the pine proud of its staying power in winter.

The lesson of the poem is for man, who should be more like the pine in harsh times just as we celebrate the good times of springtime. The poem reminded me of Chauncey Gardner from Being There. He often used the seasons to speak for the treatment and care of certain plants during various times of the year. Ultimately, people understood that Gardner was speaking metaphorically of mankind in prosperous and dire times. But Chauncey was really only talking about his garden. Rafael, however, does employ metaphors, personification, and a time-honored rhyme scheme to make his point. Now about that twist I mentioned early on. The last line of the poem is a standalone line. It doesn't have a companion line to rhyme with. It bears repeating here because here is the whole point of the poem: "’Twas the Pine's turn to be admired." No Chauncey Gardner here to be misunderstood.

********


Kim Acrylic


Ms. Acrylic



Biography:

Kim Acrylic, from Seattle Washington is a Poet/ Recording Artist/indie Music Journalist, who dedicated her life to poetry at age 15. Since then she has worked for several online music and poetry magazines and has been published in several anthologies including Little Episode's first volume of poetry "Back In 5 Minutes" She also collaborated post-death with Andy Warhol for the New Britain Museum Of Modern Art by writing a poem inspired by his painting of Manray for the book "Visions, Voices, and verses" As of to date Kim has two CDs out "Fan Fare Melt Down" and "Techno Eyes.She continues to collaborate to this day with artists all over the world.




The Poem: 

In love with decay

In love with decay, you smile with a cocaine flavored nose

farewell to night of class and posh kisses

Merry Christmases in dark Octobers sweat out your
poisons

Climax out your monthly irritable red muse

Over-eat your sullen addiction of euphoria's secret stupor

You color out of the lines of see-through portraits of your
painful image

Taint your ghost before you die, die before you live

Cut your fetish that is imprisoned in your well-being of sour
dreams

Long live your faithfulness to powders and smoke that blind
you from hidden morals

Grave detail of your lips scare away lovers from a future
time of awakening

Shed upon the bed you burned, cry into pillows made of
lost nightmares

Urban romance squirms into your heroin chic frame

Languidly you fall, fail in this star spangled hell of existence

Will you return with the rest of man-kind?


The Critique: 

In love with decay is an extended metaphor about addiction, its past, present and future. The narrator may or may not be the poet (she is either scolding herself or a dear friend). Kim Acrylic has a true poetic voice: angry, frightened, determined. She can't just call an addict a dirty word like "junkie" or "hype"; she must employ the language of poetry to relay her message (when I'm angry, my sarcasm takes on Shakespearean levels). Let's see how Kim approaches the subject of drugs and death with her angry voice.

The strongest metaphor she employs sarcastically and sardonically is the opening line: "In love with decay." How would a nonpoetic person have said this: You're killing yourself. How mundane. Then she uses my favorite line of the poem:  "you smile with a cocaine flavored nose". Or: You use so much coke, your nose is red with busted blood vessels. More mundane. Kin, however, keeps the momentum of her anger moving.

The time frame is askew as Kim captures the warped time zone of an addict: "Merry Christmases in dark Octobers sweat out your/poisons". Wow. How can we have Christmas in October, you ask? The poetic speak for: From October to December, you go through withdrawals. Note that these are the holiday months, the time of the high suicide rates. One either tries to clean up their act or snuffs it.

We learn more of our addict as Kim extends her angry metaphors further: "Climax out your monthly irritable red muse/Over-eat your sullen addiction of euphoria's secret stupor". We now know it's a woman (monthly period; red blood). The addict becomes depressed (secret stupor) after failing at cold turkey or even at succeeding (both interpretations are viable). But the narrator continues to berate the addict: "Shed upon the bed you burned, cry into pillows made of/lost nightmares". Even as the addict suffers from loneliness and pain, the narrator is relentless. But she is angry, remember? Not mean or vicious.

Kim Acrylic is one of my favorite poets today. She exemplifies the word modern. The Beats of the 50s were angry, but they were addicts. They were angry with the straights, the "squares". Kim brings the Beatnik anger to bear on her subject in In love with decay. I don't think she has a mundane bone in her body. I look forward to reading more works from this fine talented poet. Keep the anger alive.
********


Katt Dunsmore


Ms. Dunsmore


Biography:

Tonya "Katt" Dunsmore is an American short story writer and illustrator. Her stories and essays have appeared in Crime and Suspense Magazine, Flashing in the Gutters, Flashshots, Mouth Full of Bullets, MicroHorror, Associated Content, Silver Moon Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Flash Jab Fiction, and in the anthologies, The EX-Factor: Justified Endings to Bad Exes (Koboca Publishing, 2006) Daily Bites of Flesh 2011 (Pill Hill Press, 2011) Daily Flash (Pill Hill Press, 2012), and Daily Frights 2012 (Pill Hill Press, 2012). Her illustrations and graphics have appeared in several print publications and Internet venues.

Katt is married to her beloved husband, Dinny, and they make their home in the Charlotte North Carolina area with their Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix, Briscoe, and their feline companions, Sixx, Psycho, and Misfit.


The Poem:

First Date, Last Date 

Here I sit, petite and pretty 
You think me weak, more's the pity 
Of deep looks and guilty pleasure 
You look at me and take my measure 
You softly whisper your pretty lies 
At end of night, somebody dies.

Not knowing as you make your plan 
What's in store for you, my man. 
You don't notice eyes so clear 
And teeth so sharp as you draw near 
You saw what you thought you knew 
You wanted me but I got you

When claws sink in, I take a bite 
Only then do you feel the fright 
I drink you down until you're dry 
And finish my meal with a sigh 
I take you home and take your head 
And throw you down on my dogs' bed

As I set your skull on my shelf 
I laugh a bit and tell myself 
That you guys never see the clues 
And that's why you'll be on the news. 
You came to hunt and turned to prey 
You should have stayed out of my way

© Copyright 2011 Tonya D Dunsmore. All rights reserved.


The Critique:

Katt Dunsmore utilizes the sestet form in First Date, Last Date: six lines and three rhyming couplets per stanza. She employs four stanzas here. As we've seen earlier, this form harkens to the age of Romanticism, and even earlier, to the Restoration, where Alexander Pope perfected the "heroic couplet." Let's see how Katt utilizes it.

It appears to be a standard poem about potential love, but that last line, "At end of night, somebody dies", has elevated it to a level equal to the Fin de Siècle poets of the 1890s (Oscar Wilde, artist Aubrey Beardsley, Edgar Allen Poe, for example). The popular belief during this age was that the world would end in 1900, just as many believed the world would end in the year 2000), so the art and poetry and novels of the time focused on death. Let's follow this line of logic with First Date, Last Date.

First off, the title is ironic. The "last date" coincides with "somebody dies". The narrator, the murderess, tells us more of her plan. The male believes he is there for a nice time, but the woman is calculating the terms of his demise and how she has gotten him to met his death at her hands: "You wanted me but I got you". Sinister meaning here. Ah, it appears she is a vampire and has made a meal of our poor chap. A practical gal that she is, she removes her victim's head so he will not join the ranks of the undead, and feeds it to her dog. Of course, she keeps his skull for a souvenir. The dog sure must have been hungry.

In the final sestet, Katt's narrator seems to either feign annoyance or anger. No, it's annoyance. Here's what she says: "You came to hunt and turned to prey/You should have stayed out of my way." There is disdain for the victim simply because he was attracted to the female date. Although it seems like an overreaction, it is not untypical for the Fin de Siecle works. Let's keep in mind that Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897, the height of the Purple Reign, another name for the end of the world by the turn of the century. I suppose if Dracula could snack on his victims, the First Date, Last Date narrator can munch on hers. But then, the sestets really had no raison d'etre other than ornate intentions. I'll settle for that.  But in my future reading of Ms. Dunsmore's works, I hope to find a higher level of use for these poetic devices she so firmly and talentedly controls. 

********


Viggo Mortensen


Mr. Mortensen

Purchase Book Here


About the Book: 

Recent Forgeries documents Viggo's first solo exhibition. It is an extraordinary look into the mind of an artist whose boundless creative output touches a myriad of media, from photography to painting to poetry to acting. Recent Forgeries includes a CD with music and spoken-word poetry. Introduction by Dennis Hopper. Softcover, 7 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches, 110 pages, 83 reproductions

Biography: 

Born in New York to a Danish father and an American mother, Mortensen spent the early part of his childhood in Manhattan. His family traveled a great deal and he spent several years living in Venezuela, Argentina and Denmark. He began acting in New York, studying with Warren Robertson. He appeared in several plays and movies, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, where his performance in "Bent" at the Coast Playhouse earned him a Drama-logue Critic's Award. Mortensen is also an accomplished poet, photographer and painter.
- IMDb

 http://www.brego.net/viggo/viggo-art.php


The Poem:


HOME

HE'S GOT A DEEP, ABIDING RESPECT
VERGING ON IDOL WORSHIP
FOR WHERE THINGS END UP.
THERE ARE UNOPENED LETTERS
IN HIS REFRIGERATOR, A FAKE 
FINGERNAIL IN THE SOAPDISH,
SHOES EVERYPLACE.
THESE THINGS, AND MANY MORE
LEAVINGS, FRAGMENTS, BALANCING
REMINDERS OF A BREEZE
FROM A SLAMMED DOOR--
CONFIGURATIONS OF SANCTIFIED LOOSE ENDS--
HAVE BECOME THE LIVING NET
ABOVE WHICH HE PERFORMS
THE MOVEMENTS THAT MAKE
THE CLOCK WORK.


The Critique:

HOME by Viggo Mortensen considers the comforts of home and turns them into surreal images, much as Salvador Dali does in his paintings. There are "unopened letters in his refrigerator", a sign of an old person putting things away or a forgetful person leaving the mail in the icebox when he got a soda to drink while he read the letters. The "fake fingernail in the soapdish" explains the presence of a female, either young and in a hurry, or older and busy with a big family. This is a house in disarray, a home in use. Note how nature (the "breeze") unsettled the order of the house, everything in its place. 

Well, these things are the ropes that make up the net that represents his family, his reason for his going to work ("performs the movements that make the clock work"). Using a metaphor for chaos, Viggo has captured the life of a family at peace with their messes, lost shoes, lost mail, and misplaced cosmetic fingernails. This is life, loud and proud. To the casual observer, this madness would lack a method, but for Vigoo, the madness is the method that he calls HOME.

********

My thanks to all the poets who contributed to today's poetry column. As I mentioned, Charlie Sheen will be our guest poet for next month. I want to return to the two poems per poet format next month, so contact me if you want to be a part of next month's column. Including Mr. Sheen, I could use about three more poets. I can be reached at servanteofdarkness@gmail.com. 

Till next month, stay cool in the darkness. 


************
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Ronnie Spooner is middle-aged and single. 
He's no-one; a loner who has mowed lawns for a living ever since he was a boy. When he meets Rita, they fall in love, and want nothing more than a family of their own. Too bad it isn't possible. Or is it? 
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The things we do for love...




4 comments:

  1. Great article Anthony! I love the mix of poetry and have discovered some new poets to enjoy!

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  2. Excellent observations, Anthony! A fabulous array of talent, overall. Well done, everyone!!! :D

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  3. Wonderful job to all! Great critiquing and presentation of the works, Anthony.

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  4. Wonderful once again! Bravo to all. I always enjoy your work Anthony. :)

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