bn~ review: Something Else’s Thoughts by Dah
What we do here at BlogNostics first and foremost… we read poems. We simply love to read poems. We also publish some, but it is the reading… always the reading… that informs our mission. Through both our submissions process and our reviews, we take the time to savor the verse, to give it more than one read, to sound it out.
Something Else’s Thoughts weaves both verse, then annotation, through a unifying thematic metaphor called the grey line, a place where all inertia is lost, an existential flatness, where the kinetic energies of life fail to actualize in both experience and observation: an entropy of the soul. While the verse submerges and surfaces throughout this theme, there is writing here that stands alone, buoyed, but not wholly dependent on the central concept.
Presented in eight parts, the first six of Something Else’s Thoughts are devoted to treatments of this theme through verse, the last two to annotations of the theme through quotes and essay. For the purposes of this review, we look at the first six, the verse. We take a granular approach.
We taste, We sound, We savor.
In “Wherever I Was“, we see a balance Dah strikes in words and emphasis. The artistry of incorporating silence into a phrase:
“Wherever I was
Pulling phrase from not-phrase, the economy of form serves both the theme and the individual stanza. This is not disembodied technique, but reflects instead the origins of the process of conceptualization. From Language:
“There was imagination
not yet imagined
Wishes became spells of wickedness
Language was an embryo unfurling
spores of guttural seeds
spit into syllables…”
The dance between the grey line and the attempt to define it through what-it-is-not is reflected in an interchange of sparseness and elegant tangles of description. You feel the meter in this interplay, and when you find yourself incorporating a poet’s meter into your reading, then a unique doorway has been opened between the art and the reader.
Excerpts from Illusions Proceed:
“The gray line seeks expansive attachment:
a point of unraveled mastery over thoughts
This knowledge is for imagination
To imagine the gray line is to understand your death:
a slow uncorking of chardonnay…
…Suddenly the rain becomes language
pressuring our skin. The atmosphere
is writing in wet-cursive about perfection
There are lines that describe the rare moments when the grey line is held in abeyance in contemplation, albeit briefly. From Omni Everything:
A low clarinet
is chilled to an earthy nocturne
The elliptical orbits of verse that transverse the grey line, frame the point-counterpoint of the central question in Something Else’s Thoughts:
“I sense everything is beginning:
the before-world, after-world
the open entrance, closed entrance
My thoughts have become something else’s thoughts
because I never know what I’m thinking or worse, why
was I thinking it?”
And nowhere else in the text is this summed up as concisely or poignantly as in REM:
“…The ocean is a voice whose wet grammar forms deep-sea-syllables:
Twi-Light-Zone, Si-Lence, Dr-Owned, Bloa-Ted …
it speaks of everything lost
The ocean is a voice that supplies syllables to the whales
Even in silence their bodies are prose pressed into
the water’s weight, into the salt, into the emptiness between
light and dark: Twilight Zone / Gray Zone…”
At 121 pages, this is substantial read for a concept work, and the mix of verse and analysis at the end might be altogether different from what you are accustomed to finding in a book of poetry. It’s an ambitious hybrid, one that we like. BlogNostics recommends Something Else’s Thoughts as an addition to your reading list.
JB/DSS Editors @blognostics
Dah’s seventh poetry collection is Something Else’s Thoughts (Transcendent Zero Press) and his poems have been published by editors from the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Singapore, Poland, Philippines, Australia, Africa, and India. He is a Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee and the lead editor for the poetry critique group, The Lounge. Dah lives in Berkeley, California where he teaches yoga to children in public and private schools while working on the manuscript for his eighth poetry collection.