Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Poetry: Aquarius Rising, Ben Fama

This is a lovely chapbook by a sweet-talking boy, one who thinks too much and too deep for his age.  Or maybe he's just acquired a different sort of wisdom still mixed with playfulness and awe.  I have no idea how old he actually is, but the spontaneity of the poems and some of the images make me think he's in his mid 20's, tops.  A phrase like "I come bearing .gifs" is a techie twist on an old phrase.  Images of waves, bullfighters and sequins contrast with the deeper and sometimes darker message underneath.

"Angel Youth",
Later in my sleep
I say aloud:  take my word on it
this beautiful shipwreck
can never become real
but wake me up
and tell me I'm wrong" 

In "Tauromachy" he creates a list of comparisons and conditions but adds visual details to keep them from sounding like dull axioms, and the effect is of a roguish observer, too young to yet be jaded:

"happiness exists only if it can
be spread across a grouping of days

sometimes the world at midnight seems empty
like an empty room in a sad empty gallery...

this world thrives on misunderstanding
a cloud full of moods for mature situations...

some mornings westerlies prevail in my sleep
the open radio glaring I had too much to dream last night"

It's almost as if he's describing life according to a weather report, with the unpredictable nature and variety implicit.  Similar expressions throughout make this lyrical chapbook a collection more light at heart than much of what I've read, but still provocative;  it's clever without being cute.

Special thanks to Ugly Duckling Presse for this review copy.

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