Mosquito Operas by Philip Dacey

 

A Review by: Diane Sahms Guarnieri*

Mosquito Operas by Philip Dacey is like riding a carousel – each poem either a stationary object or a horse that goes up and down while circling to the notes that make up the music, if you are listening.  Sometimes the carousel is roofless and you are looking up spinning through time, as one of the eight planets circling the sun.  Sorry Pluto!

Dacey’s  ideas are always moving, always circling, always spinning around you.  Starting with poems of one to three lines, he builds to long sequences by the last pages.

As for humor there are many instances of irony, starting with an eight word poem with a six word title: HOW I ESCAPED THE LABYRINTH – It was easy./ I kept losing my way.  to BUMPER STICKER HAIKUS – #5 – An unendangered/ species. The red-tailed/lane-switcher to many others of varying lengths.

As for a meditational poem, NOTES OF AN ANCIENT CHINESE POET (1 – 10), with # 6 as: Listen to the voice/of each dead poet as if/it were yours/It is.  Some others include – MEMORIZING POEMS and INSOMNIA, but these include Dacey’s sprinklings of wit mixing through the batter of thought.

As for common life experiences there are poems where Dacey is a keen observer of his mother hanging laundry, a son watching his father get a haircut and a son bowling.  These poems will give the reader a chuckle, but  a beautifully written poem, NEEDLE AND THREAD, has many fresh metaphorical images throughout it, especially stanza three: It’s the pleasure/of biting off the thread,/an animal with/an umbilical cord.

As for tribute poems, there’s one to Hart Crane,  mothers, a skinny man pumping iron, three prostitutes in East St. Louis, Illinois, but perhaps the most compelling one is his last poem in this collection, entitled ANGLES, describing  the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Washington, D.C.. Each stanza of the 14 stanzas can be read and pondered alone or woven into and out of the other stanzas.  This is the most powerful poem in Dacey’s collection.  

He’ll take you from one mosquito chapter to five, all of them biting your skin, leaving their marks on you, but not before buzzing by your ear and if you’re really listening – you’ll hear anything from one quick note to an operatic score.  

You can purchase Mosquito Operas at this link: http://rainmountainpress.com/books14.html

*Diane Sahms Guarnieri is the poetry editor of The Fox Chase Review

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