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Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: A Sleepless Man Sits Up in Bed

A Sleepless Man Sits Up in Bed by Anthony Seidman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anthony Seidman’s third collection of poetry, A Sleepless Man Sits Up In Bed, unveils a liminal space parsimoniously claimed by many as a border and invites the reader not only to cross over, but to perforate the concept itself. This collection builds around objects that are seemingly mundane, like an “Uncapped Pen,” until it reaches profundity. Seidman takes something explicit and sublunary – “Coatlicue, Whose Name Means ‘Serpent Skirt’” – and sends the reader on a journey through the ancient and the modern, the past and future, the present and the nostalgic; ages, visions, and states converge in an ornate poetic wandering, submerging the reader into the ebb and flow of continuity and transformation.

Seidman’s liminal space awakened a memory of my days at the university, when I studied border cultures – specifically, the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, with its focus on the (im)possibilities of borderlands, a geographical area sensitive to hybridity. However, Seidman manifests a different approach to dialoguing about the possible domain of the borderland and proves that poetry is a veritable and noble way of engaging the linguistic hybridity, creating a completely autonomous dialogue that can flow independently. This book is a sustainment, or maybe a suspension, of this liminal area, held by a long thread stitched with poems that share rhythm and structure, with repetitions of certain words establishing a thematic backbone. Examples include the black dog, which appears multiple times in the collection – in one instance, as the soul of the poet in “2300 BC Emperor Yao” – and fronds, which recur in descriptions of a goddess’s brow and in those of a verdurous jungle.

Continue reading at the online magazine Entropy and / or View all my reviews

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Sieve

for Linda
The word will never be uttered without feel.
Darkness, in another hemisphere echoes distance–
accommodates a cloud of unknown named pain.
A juxtaposed stomach, half life & half death is divide
by a shadow so cold [winds] Deep and Sterile.
The passing of compound moments utterly sieve.

Gather and embrace and clasp. Clutch the sieve.
Silence draws a cold nip at a soul– jars a feel.
A gap between her & I marks a distance.                                 [two pillars]
Unintentional and acute, memory summons pain.
But as words catalyze to be spoken, a divide
births a dark light through the womb senescent; sterile.

How does a man approach what is sterile?
A negative; the man caught and clasped in a sieve.
Death, shadow, cold, and the dark light all feel–
they collaborate and construct an immense distance.
Further, Farther, Far– the Farthest destroys pain.
The pain follows them into an abyss, a divide.

Snow falls over the shadow. The memory is Divide.
A winter front, gray and threatening sterile–
but heed not– the deed and spoiled gathers in the sieve,
clever to avoid a breakdown, shifty for a false feel.
Tracks of a husbands feet shoveling piles of distance
numb his unsheathed hands, naked heart, disparate prints, pain.

And we settle because the depth pocked with pain
is a label which severs unitary emptiness that's divide.
Caper to the vicious circle, a cyclical death sterile,
contained and frozen by the pure and holy sieve.
We drag our claw as the abyss tugs us from the feel.
Now we flip or flop in favor of the uncouth Distance.

Shadow and Darkness remain and persist in Distance.
One deceives the other and reciprocates a universal pain.
Exhausted, life simplified in surrender, Death is divide.
If only our Mothers or Fathers had been equally sterile,
then all Sons and Daughters could have escaped the great sieve.
No loss for word, no need to respond, no need to continue, no need to feel.

Distance sterilizes the feeling,
much like time in the dark divides all
that settles. A silty pain putting the sieve to use.