Friday, January 2, 2015

When David Bromige was assembling Desire, his selected poems, he made it his project to rewrite every poem.  This angered some of his longtime readers.  I admired the decision.  The previous versions still existed in other collections; but David reimagined them, telescoping past decisions into new ones. Sometimes one is not done with a poem.  Sometimes a poem is not done with you.

Something similar is going on in Sun Stigmata (Sculpture Poems) by Eileen R. Tabios.  These "stigmata" poems are carved from prose poems collected in her earlier (and best known book) Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole.

The roots of Sun Stigmata  are in Reproductions but there is something completely different happening--something spare and lyrical. This new book is as good or better than its predecessor.  I prefer it because it has  more concentrated energy.

I'm still reading Stigmata.  So I'll postpone commenting further until a later time. I'm going to close by quoting a poem in which the first and last lines of the piece were from a poem Eileen wrote for me in an email exchange:

The Controlling Agent

"The past is thick"

He was supposed to
carve innocence--
a boy with plump cheeks
squatting breathlessly
by a river lacking ripples
so as not to disturb
a bird perched on his shoulder.

But the artist affirmed
his avocation by
also carving a lifted wing
as if the bird is about
to fly for the illusion
known forever as "sky"

The observer controls
the subject unless
another observer understands
history.  For the present
is thin, and the past thick...


Now that's what I'm talking about!

1 comment:

  1. There was such resonance from that brief email exchange we had, Tom. THANK YOU!