The opening title poem of Allison Adair’s collection The Clearing transforms a recognizable fairy tale into a grim story of a man who may be a “prince or woodcutter or brother, now musty with beard,” all familiar tropes of the genre, and who collects teeth that the girl in the story has dropped instead of breadcrumbs.
It is 2020 and it seems that we all feel immersed in destruction. Destruction surrounds us and we struggle to understand our own complicity in it. This was true when John Sibley Willams’ book, As One Fire Consumes Another was released in April 2019, and seems to have become an even more pressing reality in the year since.
When I was about to die
I went hunting for
with that generic plastic bag
with the smiling face:
To be tethered to something can be a good thing, can feel safe and secure, can feel necessary. Right now, we are tethered to a situation, to our homes, to our work, to our families, to uncertainty. Even before this time of pandemic that we find ourselves in, we have each been tethered to something or someone, physically, emotionally, or metaphorically, at least once in life if not for an entire life. The first of life’s tethers is the one that connects us to a mother.
In “Body of Render,” Felicia Zamora cleverly employs mini-prose poems and collage-like fragmentation, similar to previous collections, but what makes this book stand out is her attention to the current American political landscape as well as race in the era of Trump.
If poetry is inclined to seal itself like a closet, if it embraces ellipsis, elision, mystery, even subterfuge, the poet seems in Knorr’s formulation to be its counterforce, creating new worlds and opportunities for insight and discovery. Ballast, with grace and intelligence, inquires into scenes of love and intimacy, the precarity of the body and environment, and the tensile relationship between constraint and creativity.
or, rather, we see his shoes poking out
from beneath the yellow tarp someone—a police officer—
has hastily thrown over his body. Never never never
have I see such expressive shoes,
A moose is not an elegant creature. Though powerful, those thick hindquarters, jug head, and humped back don’t arouse the same awe a mountain lion’s sleek muscles inspire. Moose legs, long and fine-boned as those of a racehorse, just look like matchsticks poking from a matchbox body. They don’t suggest freedom, or swift escape.
The wounded deer
died in the impossible
garden. Did it become
the orchid that shouldn’t
be there, the cactus dying
in a rain puddle? The trestle
bridge carries more weight
than my body, but the heft
of a memory changes