Tag Archives: rain mountain press

Asking My Liver for Forgiveness by Rob Cook

liverPaperback: 70 pages

Publisher: Rain Mountain Press; First edition (September 1, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 098970517X

ISBN-13: 978-0989705172

.

Review by Dennis Daly 

 One part obsession, one part surreal, one part experimental, Rob cook’s new collection of poems, Asking My Liver For Forgiveness, delivers a consummate parable of medical terror. According to the book’s Afterword Cook contracted an obscure liver disease back in 2010 which in turn triggered the ravages of cirrhosis. Until an official diagnosis surfaced in early 2014 the poet and his world spiraled into a maelstrom of unpredictable physical pain, emotional ennui, and psychological denial. Through it all he kept writing.
 
Cook’s poems themselves leak pus, blood, and sweat off the page and into a syringe-fired dreamscape of alternating hopelessness and healing. At the same time the patient’s offending liver becomes independent, animal-like, and even sentient. Poetic order imposes itself on the havoc and illogic in a calming, almost climatic, way.
 
Early in the collection the poet objectifies his body parts in an effort to understand the disease darkening his consciousness. In the poem entitled Your Body That Led This Far Cook asks some pertinent questions,
 .
Is your sugar flu at least one moment’s
true loneliness? Is your liver a frightened
animal huddled near your tummy
that reads the notes inside the harsh breads
and chilis you send it? Does your heart
already know the direction of your grave?
How do you know which kidney
Can be trusted? Which arm?
Which leg? Which eye?
 .
Courting sleep at the Marion Hotel in his poem entitled Blackness Over Motel Country, the poet concocts a nightmare conversation with the dreamed up visage of a hospital nurse who once tended him. The coordinates of terror reduce “the best possible sleep” to a blend of anxious confession and jaundiced lunacy. Cook explains,
 .
“I got sick without once leaving my childhood,” I tell her.
 .
“The pine needles will not hurt you from there,”
the woman says through her conduit of ash tray static.
 .
It is not my own voice, the despair of the television
that doesn’t end. “I am always watching from
the livers that came before you,” she says
when the sleep creatures pass like a blur of doctors
and their searchlights of mist. Maybe she discusses
my elevated comet count with the man selling
 .
the letters left in the vacancy sign …
War metaphors monopolize commiserations on diseases. Cook’s immune system turned on its own vital organ, the liver, considering it an alien force bent on mischief. Brigades of soldiers were sent to destroy the offending party. The poet employs this battlefield metaphor in order to comprehend his internal chaos. He uses his title poem, Asking My Liver For Forgiveness, to reconcile with his former ally. Cook explains,
 .
… it’s taken
how many years  to remember you
slogging without faces
through my liver’s venereal swamps?
 .
To walk with precision
through my liver that cannot be
comforted from the snake-hard cold,
 .
its dark churches where monsters pray,
 .
the ones I let in who will never stop
stalking us, my friend, my liver,
my friend.
 ..
I will always be sorry—for both of us—
 .
The poem Cryptogenic Cirrhosis chronicles a very bad diagnosis. Cook’s persona spelunks his way through gothic caves of anxiety and medical unease. Facing the unknown of one’s mortality forces the artistic mind to focus and refocus its imaginative powers on the minutia of whatever is at hand, presumable scientific certitude (or not). The wording evokes a strange and soaring elegance. Cook opens his poem with dissolution,
not one doctor could diagnose
each day i wanted  
a different angel to die,
so they pillaged
all the terrors in my body,
which was a virus now,
though not yet pain.
“you have cryptogenic cirrhosis” –
meaning the hypothetical afterlife
will become, in the days of
the impending panic transplant,
more than just a child who nourishes a distant cancer.
 .
Still, one can feel dollars
Of damnation denominations
Pasted to the kidneys’ Egyptian ceilings
 .
End of days bring panic, religious fervor, and great expectations. Cook’s poem entitled 11:59 chronicles all three using a mixed combination of Christian and medical imagery. The result both impresses and scares the hell out of you. Here’s the heart of the piece,
 .
It is time to track god, digging
with his enormous cross in the wrong
direction, toward the thousand basements
of the last crucifix company between
jerusalem and the day after.
It is time for everyone to stay silent.
It is time to hear where the trees and the water
have stopped praying for us.
It is time for a hospital
without the cruel voices that arrive
from the center of the evening pills.
It is time for a breakfast without scalpels,
a nurse without tourniquets that monitor the liver’s fear,
a doctor without the elimination of names.
 .
Notice the repetition of the phrase “It is time.” Cook seems to work himself up to a crescendo of control and hope that greatly tones down the panic and pessimism created by earlier pieces.
 
Exceptional artistry originates from diverse experiences, many of them disconcerting and even degrading. One’s flesh follows its own genetic and environmental script in spite of our better, often antiseptic, angels. Wherever Cook may be on mortality’s time span, his poetic work inexorably advances before him with its surgical candor and its strange, unblinking imagery. If you harbor even a modicum of belief in the curative power of words, read this marvelous poet.

 

You can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/asking-liver-forgiveness-Rob-Cook/dp/098970517X

.

Dennis Daly

Dennis Daly

-Dennis Daly has been published in numerous poetry journals and magazines and recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.  Ibbetson Street Press published The Custom House, his first full length book of poetry in June, 2012. His second book, a verse translation of Sophocles’ Ajax, was published by Wilderness House Press in August, 2012. His third book of poems entitles Night Walking with Nathaniel was recently released by Dos Madres Press. A fourth book is nearing completion. http://dennisfdaly.blogspot.com/

 

Church of the Adagio by Philip Dacey

church-of-the-adagioPaperback: 98 pages

Publisher: Rain Mountain Press; First edition (July 1, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0989705145

ISBN-13: 978-0989705141

 

Reviewed by: Dennis Daly 

I don’t know about you, but lately life’s gales seem to gust past me toward the thin-lipped, unforgiving horizon. I’m always looking for that bloody slow button. Philip Dacey offers relief by setting up his Church of the Adagio in the artificial spaces that creativity engenders. His poetic moments linger until they don’t. Time stops and starts as anticipation surges through the connecting nerves as you climb over the profane and the sacred stanzas, easing into and then merging with the lines. It’s damn reassuring. He makes it so.
 
In Llama Days, a serendipitous poem plotted out in formal verse, Dacey considers the many facets of wonder encompassed in a brief meeting of unintroduced species, a parsed parley, which changes the very nature of time twice: first, the convocation itself suspends the protagonist’s disbelief, and second, the poem, itself emerges out of artistic (read daydream) time. Here’s the moment of decision in the heart of the poem,
 
But llama? I’d never noticed one before,
though no doubt my surprise at seeing him
was matched by his at seeing me—or more
then matched, he being lost, freedom become
 
a burden twice as bad as any bars,
so much so panic struck and he turned back,
high-stepping it onto the road, two-laned, tarred,
and I saw the headline, “Llama killed by truck.”
 
Dropping the rake, I raced to rescue him,
Who now stood frozen, straddling the centerline…
 
Attempts at political poems crash and burn all the time. The more self-righteous the poet the better the chance of failure. True believers rarely produce first rate art. There are exceptions however. Dacey’s poem News of the Day, for instance, takes three historical examples of man’s inhumanity to man, cedes some freedom to formalist techniques, slowing down a river of natural anger, and creates three hardened jewel-like pieces. He sets his inspired words into two rondels and a sonnet. The Hiroshima rondel is beyond exceptional. The last stanza burns into you,
 
The room reshaped itself around me, night
disguised itself as day, and words, undone,
turned ash. Gone blind by ecstasy of sight,
my eyes read fire. When spines began to run,
I turned the page and fell into the sun.
 
Another curiosity in this book is the way Dacey moves almost seamlessly from formal poetry of the strictest type ( rondels, villanelles, sestinas)  into languid free verse and then back into formality. The relaxed prosy narrative of Dacey’s free verse poem White Trash lures you into an ongoing joke with very serious undertones. The poet opens his piece matter-of-factly,
 
When middle-class blacks
moved into my family’s neighborhood
in St. Louis in the Fifties
and we and all our neighbors
moved out, the property values
soared. Lawns greened, junkers
disappeared. I realize now
I was white trash.
 
Maybe I’m still white trash.
My parents never told me.
Did they know? Do they know now?
I like having a clear identity,
if not the one I’d have chosen for myself.
I’d long ago accepted the notion I was
gutter Irish…
 
My Allen Ginsberg Story, Dacey’s humorous poem of admiration, rocks one with fastidious details of stage props and prescribed paraphernalia. One doesn’t usually associate the word fastidious with Allen Ginsberg. And here lies the rub. Ginsberg apparently acted as a diva before readings with assorted ecentric demands. The myth of artistic spontaneity slows down and breaks into component parts in this piece. Ginsberg leaves nothing to chance when it comes to adding honey to his tea. The piece’s form, free verse lines, as Ginsberg might have written them, almost adds another layer of irony to the poem. Here are some lines from the heart of the composition,
 
Ginsberg saw me looking at the traffic jam
of paraphernalia and smiled. No doubt he knew
the effect of his phone call—beyond bizarre, honey
as an emergency. But now it seemed the act
of a consummate pro, perfectionist even, showman
not about to let an accident break a spell.
I thought of Whitman, whose “spontaneous me”
didn’t stop him from revising some poems for decades.
He’d agree that to place a honey jar and spoon
amidst that crush would ask for a disaster.
Still smiling, Ginsberg said, “You see what I mean.”
 
Leaping between the arts of dance and writing Dacey’s poem Nijinsky: A Sestina  describes both the medicinal and the madness inherent in the famous dancer’s life. It turns out that Nijinsky was also a talented diarist whose words soar as they detail ruin and degradation.  Dacey’s sestina in homage to Nijinsky is a short-lined poem with odd end words that Najinsky sputtered out nonsensically at one point in his life. But there is no nonsense in Dacey’s poem. The piece is a triumphant pas de deux between the poet and his subject.
 
One of this collections unusual pieces, The Cockroach Ball, skitters in with beautiful phrasing and organic unhesitant rhymes. Dacey uses the villanelle form here and it is lovely. Along with the obvious humor, the poet expresses his rather wondrous sensitivities. The poem works! Cockroach love in the midst of poverty—who would have thought it possible?
 
My advice: worship at Dacey’s Church of the Adagio for the very best in contemporary poetry. And do it as soon as possible.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Church-Adagio-Philip-Dacey/dp/0989705145

 

Dennis Daly-Dennis Daly has been published in numerous poetry journals and magazines and recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.  Ibbetson Street Press published The Custom House, his first full length book of poetry in June, 2012. His second book, a verse translation of Sophocles’ Ajax, was published by Wilderness House Press in August, 2012. His third book of poems entitles Night Walking with Nathaniel was recently released by Dos Madres Press. A fourth book is nearing completion. http://dennisfdaly.blogspot.com/

Long Way Back to the End by Paul B. Roth

longwaybackPaperback: 69 pages
Publisher: Rain Mountain Press; First edition (June 2, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0989705161
ISBN-13: 978-0989705165
.
Reviewed by g emil reutter
.
Paul B. Roth is a narrative poet who lives in the shadows. Existence is a challenge for this haunted poet who accepts what comes his way.
.
 From Support
      In spite of your head still held between your hands, all windows
disappear upon opening your eyes. You no longer need wait for what’s not
coming, nor for anyone to say you no longer exist.
.
Roth writes, “In the future, you’ll take your darkness elsewhere” An irony captured in one line from the poem Low Detection. He is a poet of maggots, hangnails, willows, of absent heartbeats. He is an expert on absent dreams and of light turning into dark loneliness.
.
The poet says, “Who passes by who doesn’t notice you, who never notices you or comes for you.”
.
His short narratives are constructed well, held together in images reflecting the dark and lonely side of life. These laments in Long Way Back to the End will bring you into the light and shadows of life, some you may recognize, and some you may fear.
.
Poets @ Pennypack II 004-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

The Complete Cinnamon Bay Sonnets by Andrew Kaufman

The Complet cinaamon by sonnetsPaperback: 74 pages
Publisher: Rain Mountain Press; First edition (August 4, 2014)
Available for pre-order
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0989705153
ISBN-13: 978-0989705158
.
Reviewed by g emil reutter
.
The poet Andrew Kaufman has attempted to capture paradise and jail in a series of 47 sonnets compiled in The Complete Cinnamon Bay Sonnets Kaufman sets the stage in the prologue with his poem Two Hours After My Brother Called. The poem is set in Central Booking of the NYPD in Manhattan where he is incarcerated for interfering in an arrest. In vivid detail he describes the holding tank and environment with a loneliness and as boisterous as he sounds, a fear. He deals with his condition through an imaginary brother until his father arrives to bail him out.
.
The sonnets in this collection are haunted by this experience even as he writes of his paradise, the Virgin Islands, handcuffs, beat downs haunt him through each poem. Each of these sonnets captures theatrical drama and the use of this form speaks not only to the patience of the poet but to his craft.
.
He leaves us in Sonnet # 47, last two stanzas
.
These forty plus poems leave me free
to return, thoughtless as a tourist
to the air and sun. But then it starts
.
again, the blankness careening toward fear
and want that are treacherous as damp scree,
as I slog through the slush and mud of March.
.
In this collection the poet leaves us with an appreciation of the air and sun, (freedom), and an awareness of the slush and mud of the world.
.
.
g-emil-reutter-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA).http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Cities Hidden by Rain – Edgar Cage

Cities-HiddenISBN: 978-0-9897051-3-4

Rain Mountain Press

Published: 2013

106 Pages

.

Review by: g emil reutter

If the sound of rain were translated into language, Edgar Cage is the guy who can do it. Cage is a minimalist who envelopes the reader in images from the opening stanza, “Broken payphone/a man without change/ working inside a snowflake.” A sense of hopelessness, a breakdown in communication yet restores hope in the fresh image of working inside a snowflake.

Cage travels to scarred rivers, empty streets to a never ending stream of rain and cockroaches, crickets and leaves, crooked lines and ants, of talking to cicadas. He writes of the winter gaze of a window sill, of knowing how he lost mountains and where they go. Cage brings us to the fifth chamber of a lake, “a snail drags away/ the muffled sobs of someone/ who wants all water to die.”

Cities Hidden by Rain is a solid read of transcendent poems written in a minimalist style woven with fresh imagery that never fail to surprise.

You can check out the book here: http://www.rainmountainpress.com/books26.html

.

g emil reutter-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadlephia, Pa. (USA)

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