Thursday, October 29, 2009

Devin Johnston - Aversions

I’m finding such wonderful things in my big pile of books.

Aversions
Devin Johnston


Dead


Some find it dangerous
to analyze the dead:

they shut a collie in
the cote, then find him gone—

or else, the blackest plum
proves bitter on the tongue;

an unequated remnant
lodges in the head.

When venturing abroad,
they tilt each name and date

against their silhouettes,
and looking up, take aim:

the landscape loses depth,
collapsing near and far

as plumbing groans when taps
are turned, emitting air.

The bed is hard, the room
is cold, and some have found

the dead, though well-attuned,
are slow to understand.

1 Comments:

At 11/03/2009 1:50 PM, Blogger Christopher Phelps said...

This is quite a sleek and ponderous poem. Full of beautiful phrases -- "they tilt each name and date // against their silhouettes" -- and my favorite kind of ambiguity -- "as plumbing groans when taps / are turned, emitting air" -- twice serious and funny, in two different ways ("plumbing" as a noun versus "plumbing" as a gerund). This poem is very aware of itself, even in the sonic details ("turned" turns into "attuned"), and better for it. And it finishes brilliantly. The dead have lost their awkwardness (they have no plumbing to reverberate; only a thin, irksome veneer of relevance overlaying a landscape we wish could be fresh again), and that can make us uncomfortable -- in a hard bed in a cold room -- "the dead, though well-attuned, are slow to understand."

 

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