Thursday, April 26, 2012

You Exist. Details Follow. -- Stuart Ross

The ground had a hunch.
Furniture made no sense.
Oh luminous blur of body destiny!
You huff and puff. You stand
on magnificent corners,
wander into a cage of sunset.
The ground explained
the meaning of sunset.
Whoa. *mind blown*

I think I have met Stuart Ross before, and I think he was that slightly ragged man with the intense stare outside the grocery store who cornered me and wanted to tell me a million important things that made no sense at all. These lines, from “You Exist. Details Follow.”, are typical of his style in his new book of the same name.

Every poem is absurdist in some way. In some instances this is charming and engaging—I think particularly of the line “When we met, poodles sported four legs, just as they had before, and just as they do now — four legs for every poodle.” Some poems wallow in the absurdity to the point of being incomprehensible, but others evoke a strong narrative or relationship though a series of images. I liked the poem “Fathers Shave”:

Father shaves. Details follow.
The blade rips the bristles
from his cheeks, his chin,
from beneath the thunderous
nose. It rips the carpet
and the curtains, rips
Sylvester the Cat
right off the TV screen.
We children cry.
The blade rips the welcome
mat off our porch, the
grass off our lawn,
the trees off our block,
oh weeping willows.
Father goes to the office.
His boss caresses
his smooth face. The
clients ooh and ahh.
The streets are bare
of cars. One planet
hurtles into another.
There are no prizes
in a bag of Cheezies,
but in Pink Elephant
Popcorn you get a
little sticker or maybe
a tiny soldier with a parachute
you can drop out your second-
floor window. Look!
He drifts down.
He drifts in the breeze.
The jays and sparrows
gaze on in wonder.
I like the view through the eyes of children, the sense of the father as this larger-than-life, intimidating force. He is dangerous, barbarous and awesome in the true sense of the word, yet outside the house no one sees this side of him. After he is gone, the children are free to relax and immerse themselves in the minutiae of things that amuse them. Nevertheless, there is always the knowledge that father will return.

Conversely, there are poems such as “Time”:

It’s about time.
It’s about time.
It’s about two astronauts.
Starring ______________ as Blugga.
A brave crew? A strange place?
Prehistoric gals? Sue me.
Tell me where all past years are.
It’s about dinosaurs vs. astronauts.
It’s about their fate.
I feel in this case like putting on my best Simon Cowell voice and asking, “OK, Stuart—how do you think it went?”

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