Publisher: 1st World Publishing (February 8, 2013)
Review by: g emil reutter
Philip Dacey is a quiet and subtle poet. In his latest collection, Gimme Five, Dacey weaves images and words from his life and middle America throughout the collection. If there were a Poet Laureate for middle America, Philip Dacey would surely be at the top of the list. He is above all a realist whose poetry reflects who he is and where he came from coupled with a fine use of language.
Gimme Five, winner of the Blue Light Press Poetry Prize, gains its title from Dacey’s use of 5 stanzas of 5 lines each that he calls 5X5. The poems date from 1975 to the second decade of this new century. Dacey describes his use of this format as similar to a sculptor’s standard armature of which one can build up an unlimited variety of shapes and configurations.
For example, the poem Rosary, he describes the beads in the first and second stanzas as:
So many mad ants/ forming a loop, my childhood’s/black border/ This is all about the fingertips/how a god can be held thus.
No, a lariat to twirl/at a religious rodeo/lovers’ toy for trying wrists/found object d’art to drape/over Duchamps urinal.
The Crucifix at one end/is like a river’s source/to which the river returns/Hand-warmer in the casket/Girdle abandoned by the bride.
Dacey weaves images around an object in a refreshing, original manner.
Her Fingers, is a sweet and loving poem to his mother who was a secretary in the age of typewriters he ends with:
…I have my mother’s hands and fingers/ their dance on the top of letter/like a pair of tap-dancing feet/the bare ones on hot coals/getting everything said/before the soles burn up
In Homage to John Ashberry, Dacey hits stride in the middle of the poem:
Familiar words/strange now//with odd protuberances/and little dents/To take notice anew/is to remember the chainsaw-like
Danger of language. To build or destroy. Whose fingers that/ in the dirt? Lay your tongue lightly/ athwart the tasty metal of syllables/lest in the cold your skin stick.