Wednesday, May 20, 2009



Open Night by Aaron Lowinger
(Transmission Press, San Francisco, 2008)

Befitting the first word of its title, these poems are highly-attuned to their environment. An environment whose elements share, for the purpose of this powerful chap, "night".

Yet, these poems are full of light. The "night" that I see through these poems don't contain much darkness. These poems are radiant...and they only got that way, it seems to me, because of the clarity of not just the poet's love for, but also the poet's faith in, his subject:
open night

Rain basil coins puke glasses
it's a beautiful night
just sitting out here
drinking away the summer with you
eating onion rings
applying for jobs every day
on the phone every day
I might get one of the phones
that you wear right on your ear
and then ideas will be free
this street is long like the sea
I can't see where it ends only trees

The radiance is infectious in a good (fabulous!) way, such that they make secondary the scaffolding of their beauty: fresh diction and deft narrative leaps:
open night

The wind is like a movie
mysterious and drawn out
it puts me to sleep
like bipolar streetlight
on and off
if we walk into the light
and the air ever-expanding
like the first night
drunk on pop and crab cakes
I promise when we get married
we'll have old fashioned milkshakes
the light's blacked out
I hear the river from here
where mud puppies foam
and children are covered in fur
and cigarettes make you sick

Each poem is titled "open night" and it's effective for adding a layer of mystery that wouldn't be there if one presented several of the poems as not concerned with night vs day. For example, I would read this poem differently if its title didn't bring "night" into the forefront of my attention before I read its text:
open night

If I dug you a pond
beyond the picnic tables
the wonderbread birds that say coo
back beyond where the swallows scissor
and it's a miracle every time
a creature finds food
I will find a way to make more food
and grow you out to seed
and dig dig dig
until there's nothing left but granite

The project ends appropriately with a poem on its back cover (the project ends on paper but as an opening into experience for the receptive reader)-- and it manifests what the poet clearly achieved during the writing of these poems: ecstasy --
open night

Let night sounds filter in from an incandescent street
lepers in the tree frogs summer
holy appendages keep us awake late into the night
trying without feeling
to remember or recreate any feeling
so this week can close
and I will remember it
and some of the people I talked to during it
some of the things I thought about
like using up 5 billion years of energy
in a matter of several generations
and why do I have no energy
the night pump is broken sweating water
into the walls around where we dream
and why am I always so lazy please
just forget about all that and go ballroom dance
we can't just sit around and wait for it to come back
I plan on missing Earth when we shoot to Mars

I wasn’t anticipating these poems to stick in my memory after I read them. But they did, and I’m glad. Because while reading them, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, just as I now relish their presence staying with me.


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects, but she is pleased to point you elsewhere: Joey Madia's review of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole over at New Mystics, and Aileen Ibardaloza's (and Aileen's mother's) engagement with The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes over at OurOwnVoice. Oh hey! And she just released her first novel (grin) : NOVEL CHATELAINE!

1 comment:

  1. Another view is offered by Eric Gelsinger in GR #11 at