Poems from Magma, PN Review, Poetry Review, etc. The book starts gently - too gently for my tastes. The poems are like journal entries with careful endings and the odd bit of purple prose. That changes in "Freezing Fog", where a parent on a train is thinking about their troubled son. The title matches the subject matter, and the imagery's more telling. Here's the conclusion -
His doctor says he needs structure,|
that the drugs will kick in in a few weeks.
For now, what's real keeps unpeeling.
He sleeps a lot. Outside my carriage window
the landscape lengthens, the sky lifts.
Two Indian boys sit next to me.
I listen to the music of their talk.
It seems a long time before I realise
they are speaking in English
Then we return to poems with passages like "We talked excitedly of Hari Krishna and LSD, and although/ a long way from the daily pain of Vietnam, we wanted/ Peace to have its chance. It was a sort of education" (p.26). "The Fridge Inside Her" comes as a pleasant surprise. The 2 "How the Artist ..." pieces are light prose with inexplicable line-breaks. "On This Dark Night" rhymes, which is uncommon in this book.
I like some of the endings -
- "Visitation" is about a ghost of a female visiting a male
In the end she just smiled
then dissolved on the air
to his own slow implosion
of heart. But then light
came in at the window
that had not been there before.
And the day came back.
- In "Kites", 2 boys fly kites in a farm setting
we too could be kites
above the spoon of the meadow,
full of the moment's gift -
the slow unbuttoning of a mind
unburdened in this naked land.
Soon the milk
of this sky will be pailed
into evening. But for this while
our ribbons dance.
- Sheenagh Pugh ("Surprise" is a keynote of the language, imagery and themes of this collection.)