Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Michael Dumanis - My Soviet Union

Michael Dumanis

There comes the point
in every story
when I panic,

there comes this panic,
I catch myself clutching
a wrench at a Wal-Mart,

a wren in a field,
clutching a wrist
near a radio tower,

or someone’s key
I had not been aware of,
turning the knob

of a make-believe door.
Body the contour
of jazz in a speakeasy,

body the texture
of gaps in a gangway,
why I keep letting

you down is beyond me.
I’ve taken pains.
Practiced synchronized breathing.

Counted past ten.
Talked with zeal about things.
Even summoned the nerve

to look fetching in amber.
But can’t get past
that which rattles inside me.

Try to think back:
was I going
to flash you or juggle.

Or was there a story
I needed to tell you.
Was it important.

Could it have swayed you.
I meant to give objects
totemic significance,

refer to a childhood,
invoke certain towns.
And would I have broken

one heart or another.
It was the story of my life,
it would have started

with the note la,
then a couple of llamas.
Sometimes, a window fan

would, in it, pass for an eye.
Trust me,
it would have been riveting.

- - -

Michael Dumanis’s My Soviet Union is relentless. It has the sort of obsessive energy that I admire, feeling more forged than constructed. Smelted, not carved. Anyway, it’s a swinging for the fence book, and I’m enjoying that.

The book reminds me, more in its power than in its voice, a bit of Mark Strand. Or am I imagining that?

I’ll take it with me on a trip tomorrow, and re-read it. I’ll think about it some.