gary lundy‘s first book of poetry, when voices detach themselves (Is a Rose Press), delves deep into personal space and comes out with cultural revelations. His most recent book, heartbreak elopes into a kind of forgiving (Is a Rose Press), dives even further, if possible, into the heart of matters and matters of the heart, uncovering the space for forgiveness and a desire for continued connection—even from deep within introspection. We feel the power of pausing in order to understand how the outer world shapes us, especially through the ideas of relation/ship and loss.
gary introduces these pauses, deliberately interrupting the easy flow of reading, using full-stops so that a reader stops, thinks. The density of language and play of it in the poem forces readers to struggle with their own understandings and perception. Rather than the “easy-flow” of sound bites, social media feeds, Orwellian catch-phrases, or the slogans of the marketer or politician that wash our brains with pre-conceptions, gary’s poetics asks us to think about language, meaning, relationship, human connections and to thus find our own understandings. We are to use his disruptions as launching points toward generating our own sense of identity and the world.
Rather than sell us on “truths” with slick style, newspeak, or jargon, his poems force us to question what we think we know about ourselves, each other, our relationships, language itself and re-connect to how we sense self and world consciously—coming to our “meaning,” or at least our understanding (however flawed), through choice and choice of language. He doesn’t give us answers, but points to his questions in a way that allows us to ask our own—of him, his poetry, but, most importantly, of ourselves. His poems go to questions, not from or to certainty.
The deceptively “simple” form of the five new prose poems below contrasts his sophisticated use of language, which breaks through the facade of our (self-)constructed worlds. These poems may not be “easy” to read or understand, but they are powerfully that thing which we celebrate this (and every) April, poetry.
the sort of narrative found
in one of your unpublished notebooks. it’s true that each of us is preoccupied by our individual internal story even though it shares conjoined regulated passwords designated memory. that fleshly take on the skin cold wind chilled. where were they when we needed their help but felt betrayed instead. that long vacant block to the left of our imagination or parts prefabricated and satisfying read like a dictionary. naturally this is mine but an aggregate of ours suffering selective erasure. the moon large and near full bright uncanny. the overheard conversation compels a retracing of otherwise unmemorable mid morning energy. the shoulder of a narrow country road or of that lover whose nearness affects once again a hopeless satisfaction. they are afflicted with the community prejudices which compel their denial even while in participation. when you yell loudly against a hope to distract from what you deeply know about yourself.
suffice to say not one more than those many
a smiling sort of melody all the while kicking them in the kidneys. for many it’s a time of merely biding. we worry about how often sitting around fills time. taking off their glasses to aid in seeing clearly. you push against those others whose bodies flail against the hard surface of the music. melody disappears in the growing frenzy. their drawing of a rectangle to illustrate proportions of a room walls crooked corner cracked. it’s impossible to quiet the mind engaged in disarming disparate imaginings. there are many things we feel badly about but none qualify as mistakes. a red cup of coffee steam cleaned. earlier desire encroached upon their afternoon body. those others recognized in the shared experience minute differences. details attended to and those ignored as unimportant. were it possible to i might go back in time so as not to meet you. their flavor toys with whomever agrees. a spot deep inside under the skin that won’t stop itching. nearing a halfway you memorize the landscape to come.
because in such beginnings a single thread out of place
unravels it all. they wear their skin as if just purchased at a secondhand store. at least calm accompanies the heavy snowfall and brittle temperatures. when even the reflected image fogs over. return home alone. let that ampersand collect and connect those others now awash in group memory and sorrow. whose shadow suffers closures and over reaction tied to blame and wrong names and pronouns. you suffer from the assumption that age is merely an aggregate of an object circling around fire. never mind make up where can such a blue come from. we plod around our clothes draped and bleeding. how can it matter who they choose to be called when pronouns are indifferently attached to hundreds at a time. you admit it’s been ten days since you showered. frozen beards and brows deep in consensus. from a certain altitude we recognize how blood mobilizes against aggression. a young one sits and imagines flying a tornado in a wilderness of exchanges. i have nothing in common with this place except shared space. unless they unleash a stepladder in order to reach and remove broken edges.
after the fact those we answerable
grow somber and quiet. too much of a practiced and practical contemplation which wards off the unacceptable spontaneous. just now as small bubbles swirl surrounding the head of the one washing dishes behind the coffee bar. eyes that fracture what’s seen into small fragments of the identifiable. you will understand as soon as you find that dated page from which our conversation ought to have originated. gesture for them to sit should they wish to share space. honor their difference through deep satisfying swallow. it must be that the answer lies in the irretrievable rather than sitting in eye shot. their impossibility to know any other with precision. complexity a simple telephone ring or foot tap melody. in that as if verticality which offends no one. pause arose the rectangular box filled in by misinformation. as purple turns into flagrant blue i’m reminded that with you there are no secret scents. which reduces by at least a dimensional category those contours outside the radius of blame.
how many times have we attended
the same passage of time still unable to grasp the warranted memorabilia. they delight in the relationship of commitment and blindness. wind swept snow sooths those otherwise broken edges in a space devoted to horizontal lies. where our joined bodies compel spirals circulation surrounds and restores lingering melodies soft in gentle safety. we can never be the one who comes to open them into the day drift snowstorm invisible but its touch so often devastating. nostalgia for a past never lived as real as those dark creatures out of childhood. an overwhelming sense of futility. a closed impossible future. to everything a place even when forced displaces another. power hums overhead heating discarded moods. we live in our head which sometimes branches off deliberately indivisible. muscles atrophied stuck within boundaries of disinterest clamor. we search for a way to change or eliminate redundant inactivity. suddenly they understand that their collection is incomplete missing an integral digit. from the side you resemble the stranger that remained outside in the dark. i could only hope you meant to love me even though you hadn’t thought of that. blame conceals a far more dangerous intimacy. meaning subverts clarity of vision and rudimentary pleasure. this they connects you with me compounded within a framework of misunderstandings. as our name for you attempts to curtail choice.
See more of gary lundy’s work here.