Monday 27 August 2012

Laura Kasischke's Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon, 2011)

Winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award for Poetry, Space, in Chains combines the banal and the metaphysical with surprising effectiveness. I'm especially intrigued by Kasischke's ideas about mortality and death. 

How easy it would have been instead
to stand up shouting
about cold, dumb death.

from "View from Glass Door"

July, that lovely hell, all
velvet dresses and drapes
stuffed into a hot little hole.

opening stanza of "July"

I stumbled into this place with my suitcase packed full of prior obligations. The floor of the orchard littered with soft fruit, and the wasps hovering drunkenly over it all, and the last few pieces dangling from the branches--happiness, melancholy, sexual desire--poised in the vibrating air, ready to fall.


In our fading animal memories:

The humming gold of being, and ceasing to be. The exposed motor of eternity.

the beginning and end of "Wasps"

And all the embezzled
cents and dollars
of the last time I saw you.

last stanza of "Rain"

The trees

in their temporary trances, and we in our animate brevity.

from "Medical Dreams"

The last hour waiting patiently on a tray for her somewhere in the future. The spoon slipping quietly into the beautiful soup.

end of "Near Misses"

There is a bridge from here to there. But we all know it is the kind of bridge that blows away. The kind of bridge made mostly of magazines, cheap beer, TV.

from "Riddle"

The way music, our savior, is the marriage of math and antisocial behavior.

from "O Elegant Giant"

And then 
through my weird tears
a clear vision
at the center of the others:

My father 
and the way for decades he drank his beer
beneath our bare bulb in the basement, like

a man desperately struggling to drown

a pale deer slowly in a shallow pond.

end of "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, Mist"

Most days I cling to a single word. It is a mild-mannered creature made of thought. Future, or Past. Never the other, obvious word. Whenever I reach out to touch that one, it scurries away.

opening stanza of "Riddle"

In the UK you can buy Space, in Chains from Foyle's; in the US, try your local independent. 

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