The Stars on the 7:18 To Penn by Ana Bozicevic
(Dusie and Ellectrique Press, 2009)
The Stars on the 7:18 to Penn is a two poem chapbook written by Ana Bozicevic on her daily commutes from Long Island to Penn Station. The chapbook is aesthetically pleasing as each of its pages is a train window with the text typed in the window’s space. This recreates visually the energy and movement that the poems emulate and trap. The chapbook begins with the poem “Some Occurrences on the 7:18 to Penn” which is divided into eight sections. The poem begins, “He showed me this book called “Discovering God.” And guys?/ I nearly did choke on the swanning spray of insufferable light—” This opening couplet introduces the reader immediately to the musicality of Bozicevic’s lines. Another calling card of her poems is their humor and her ability to turn from humor to serious such as in section four:
I love jewels. Don’t you just love jewels?
(Oh good, you’re my kind. She-assassin of light.)
And wouldn’t it be cool if Bloomberg were Prez?
Or wait. I know. Trump! (It would be
awesome. Now spit out those feathers—)
Rid your mouth of the sorrowing of sparrows
I tell you as a friend. In middle school already I knew I couldn’t love
Bozicevic begins with a wry remark about jewels then moves onto Bloomberg and Trump. The joke works because it questions their competency, and serves as a critique on men and the structure of power, so by the time the poem ask for the riddance of sparrows’ feathers you know the speaker is serious. This poem, like most of Bozicevic’s work, demands the reader’s apt attention.
The second poem, “The Stars That Come Before The Night,” is divided into seven sections that include five prose poems. Here’s section three:
Sunset was applause. We lived in the nail castle, summered at laundry palace. Round glittered dear carpetworld- at sweet hollow diner by waterfront chiropractors you were adventureland, an edible arrangement. Now I work at men’s warehouse, sleep in home depot./ I bump into you at melting pot or pizza hut. And it’s almost nothing, the thing more than one/ dollar- an indoor lumberyard. Sunset’s just a flavor.
Since these poems are inspired by Bozicevic’s commute they have a loose meandering quality to them yet they are always moving forward like the way she begins with “sunset was applause” and ends with sunset being “just a flavor.” This chapbook is admirable for the amount of life and world captured on its pages and Bozicevic’s voice whether playful or serious remains steady and intelligent. Her lines are packed with wonder and awe and this alone warrants many repeated readings.
Steven Karl’s poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Coconut, Boog City, Taiga, Vanitas, Barrow Street, and others. His reviews have appeared in Sink Review, Cold Front Magazine, Octopus, and Galatea Resurrects. He lives in Manhattan.