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Lank, Beak & Bumpy

You know the sensation when you find really good poetry so you can finally fully exhale? It’s as if this is what your body had been waiting for and didn’t know it? Now that you’ve read and reread, you can end your day happily?

It makes an Iota of difference: This little California letterpress place makes some pretty things. The hand feel is lovely. My second delight was the back inside note that it was “Hand-set in Ehrhardt 12 pt. type, & printed on Mohawk Superfine paper with a 1913 C. & P. supercool foot-powered platen press.”

Like an attention to detail of the medium as well as form and content. The paper is a kind of subtext, don’t you find?

I got a copy of Lank, Beak & Bumpy. The sample poem they have there is about music so I’m kind of tuned out, being remarkable clueless on such manners. I can collocate some musician’s name as being a musician but that’s about it. Still the sounds in the poem and the conscious attention to line breaks strike me as being not your run of the mill composition.

I’ve reread it 3 times, and uncharacteristic of poems I read, I enjoy more each time. One

Later on our Wedding Night, Two Silences in the House

Like a Shaker bowl
the house contains the silence
of belief, and
like a Navajo basket
it is keeping quiet,
deathly still, in fact,
about God’s plans.

There’s something delicious in how the lines unfold, shift without jarring yet expand the vantage point. Each pause is considered like a foot attending to floorboard squeak in a darkened home.

The objects are simple and tactile. If it were a glass bowl and a generic basket, the impact would have fallen out completely differently. The difference is material between the objects, but also cultural background, the sense of Other and that people think have disappeared. Both we associate with place and history but both still live and continue.

What is the poem talking about? The newness of relationship, people “made one flesh” in legal, religious and physical sense perhaps. But each blinks into the dark. This new life has started. Now what?

The joined house is both empty and full of belief and expectations. It is simple, but descended from an entire lineage of belief and unstated assumptions.

In the marriage of the house, each are still separate, complete vessels onto themselves. Both are carefully made and yet outwardly different, one decorated, one plain, both rustic.

The future is contained without, and from out there, in the unknown at the same time. Such a lovely set of paradoxes.

Throughout the chapbook there are great ringing phrases such as “the flame of your attention” or “breathing wanted nothing”. There’s a careful tread that doesn’t feel like poet voice proclaiming that something transcendent is about to be said. There’s a lovely blend of emotive and level-headed, circumspect. There’s a minimalism and a telling of story but not a wordiness or overt hand of craft drawing attention to its cleverness. A pleasant balance.

It is not all somber. He shifts up with poems of the minimalist with lines of 1 to 3 syllables and ones such as “Possibly Why the Buddha was Fat” which has a tender kind humour to it as well. There’s a sense of being well in the world in these poems. It’s like a movie where you can see the actors actually like one another. The relationship of poet to the world comes thru in tones.

As the Buddha poem title suggests, even his titles are attended to, such as “Remembering when I found that place behind your knee”. There’s none of this habit of toss on a bland title, and get on with the “real reveal of poetry” within the body of the poem. The title is the first hook and Jackley consistently does that well too.

A pleasure to read. I’ll be on the lookout for his name.

Wayback Post: from 2004, Ghazals, particularly Lorna Croziers.

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