A brief look at three poems in the TriQuarterly, by Kate Braverman, Kyle McCord and Cortney Kampa.

3 Poets from the TriQuarterly

3 Poets from the TriQuarterly

The TriQuartlerly is like many literary journals with a university base: a worthy mix of prose, poetry and artwork that displays intelligence, academic sobriety and allusion to the names that count. Happily, the TriQuarterly also provides a generous sample of its offerings to online visitors, at least in its current issue, and it is from this source that the three poems discussed below are taken.

The first is Felony in Yellow by Kate Braverman, the author of various novels and short stories, who also served as mentor at the UCLA Writing Program. The poem can be read at: http://www.triquarterly.org/poetry/felony-yellow

It’s a more difficult piece than the half-humorous opening suggests:

This is a yellow I’d go to hell for murder and lie for and even marry.

As we are then plunged the substance of the piece, which is not about autumnal shades and their usual associations but how a failed marriage gives our surroundings an unreal air:

Autumn demands its own geography archipelagos, rituals and inventions.

Although we know:

Love is a contagion. Concubines know this rinsing ginger from their hair on October afternoons elongating like a woman in a coma or her eighth year of marriage.

And life goes on elsewhere just the same:

It must be Thursday in Rome or Prague. Rain and history gouged out the size of a canvas or door into air amber, persistent as berries ripening in early autumn.

Nonetheless, we pick on random objects and pursue what they call to mind:   Apple dawn. Apple noon. There are only transitions of necessity.

From which we need spells and routines to protect ourselves:

This is why lamps were devised prayers and calendars and the M-16. This is why we fear the plaza and the embrace mouth to ochre mouth.

Because they can damage us:

and just-picked apples, skin translucent as infants. It’s an image to remember   with a knife. He’ll tattoo this to a six- year-old. Suzanne. Danielle.   Hence the dream-like sequences. We make odd observations:   There are only wind-sampled maple leaves you see in the dark like candles and fireworks.

Recall when we were happy:

Wrap me in rags. Tell me I’m beautiful.   And that love is a world in itself:

Small cities float at the edge. It’s a day to bathe in almond. Still yellow water. Pond under cathedral bells.

Which we may defy or hide or celebrate:

I could close you like a pocket mirror. I could wear you like a scar.

A quiet, meditative and strangely moving poem once we surrender to its drifting sequences.

The second poem is by Kyle McCord, a co-founder of Litbridge and teacher at the University of North Texas. The poem, In this Scene, My Copilot and I Crash the Moonbuggy, can be read here: http://www.triquarterly.org/poetry/scene-my-copilot-and-i-crash-moonbuggy

The poem is not a fantasy piece, despite the opening:

In this scene, my copilot and I crash the moonbuggy into the Cretaceous Period.

But a hilarious send-up of more serious matters: memory:

In this scene from Dino Disaster 5, I tap into those twenty stolen years.

Willpower:

Once, as a student, I fell into a deep sleep during a public showing of Triumph of the Will.

That ask what it means to be human:

In these memoirs, I’ve expounded on that dappled marble we call memory. I’ve disabled the regret machine defectively spewing from my chest.

And ends with a sobering reflection on Plato’s cave of reality:   This ain’t no time-spill, it’s a dino disaster, the tears you see are real, the ghosts moonlighting in the camera’s cavernous afterglow.

The third piece, Ars Biologica, is serious throughout. It’s by Cortney Kampa,  a widely published poet, and can be read at: http://www.triquarterly.org/poetry/ars-biologica

Not only serious, we should note, but unrelenting with its questioning:

Forgive me, for forgiving her, your birth mother. I am unforgiving unless for selfish reasons, and it seems my reasons are as selfish as they come. I am trying to say that I am thankful for your grief—

Where the mother is the natural or adopting mother: we don’t know at first. The child grows up:

your cheekbones bend a little higher toward the stuff Mongolian bridges were inspired from, and little-woman, or soon-woman,

Or would do if still with her:

I can feel you growing through our floorboards: bones lengthening in your torso, skin whipped by an upwind gust of prepubescence

Fondly, her mother still treats that way:

and today I bought three bottles of nail polish you’ll like from CVS, hues called Not Really A Waitress, Plasma, and If You’ve Got It, Haunt It,

And the memories live on:
I know by now you knew all along why Aunt Donna gave you Asian Barbie dolls for Christmas; why, when you asked Mom buckling your car seat Did I come out of your tummy? she said, Grace you came straight from my heart and then got really quiet.

Only they are not memories,

According to your recent Google history there are lots of questions you aren’t asking and that’s probably my fault

And the girl has another life:

Or that, with only sisters, I don’t know how to talk about a brother—yours. He’s probably with her right now—closing their front door shut to the cold;

For which the mother — she is now the natural mother — asks for understanding, still distanced in the third person:

Forgive me for forgiving her for giving you away.

For which she reproaches herself:

Mothers are never a metaphor for something else.

But adds (which is theme of the poem):

The broken heart has need for other hearts broken differently,

And so, although the imagined may be nothing like reality:

Nights when the outline your body, peach-hot, fevers into your sheets looks nothing like your own.

The heartbreak is real:

The past should go away but never does. It bangs inside us like an extra heart, though it is not. It is not at all like that.

It’s not an elegant poem, and perhaps could do with a little pruning (as could all three),  but its convolutions convey well the still raw recriminations.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *