the last will be stone, too | Deborah Poe
Deborah Poe initiates the last will be stone, too with a cento-a Paul Celan death mix-to "let the grey animal in" and proceeds to sonorously enmesh art and death throughout this dazzling collection. Using art as diverse as Molissa Fenley's choreography and a fourteenth-century wall painting in China's Shanxi Province, Poe opens the page to people, place, animal, and ghost to "enact.a vision of human consciousness contemplating its own end" (Suzanne Paola). As in her collection Elements, Poe's poems push beyond the materiality that triggers them, connecting art with histories, philosophies, and the crises of our time. This series of poems invites readers to "walk into unknown center | to witness what silence can do." Yet by the collection's end, in pulling at the connective threads at the heart of the unknown, it is life that comes spilling out in transformative flight.
the last will be stone, too
Deborah Poe's the last will be stone, too is wildly ambitious and gorgeously successful--a series of poems based on artwork engaging somehow with death, from artists as diverse as Andres Serrano and the fashioners of Tutankhamen's funeral collar. The poems enact for us a vision of human consciousness contemplating its own end. It's a vision always aware of both our ability to evade the knowledge of mortality and the strength of our spirits in the face of its persistence. In this tension we locate our humanness; as Poe writes, "I pulled at the center of you,/and life came spilling out" ("Les Feuilles Mortes"). Using all the tools of the page's architecture, the occasional borrowed text, and her considerable lyric gifts and intellect, Poe makes of her bardo journey a metaphysical tightrope walk without a net, one I look forward to making with her again and again. I know of few poets who would dare to tackle such subjects tackle head-on; I know none who would emerge from the struggle so triumphant as Poe.
What is the sound, after the sound of the scream? What details constellate within the heaps that the disaster makes? How might we read or sing them? Deborah Poe writes: to walk into unknown center / to witness what silence can do. Here is a book that embodies these gestures and, with compassion, invites us to participate. In communion with the invisible, reading something where there is (seemingly) nothing, as Poe reminds, a higher pattern forms. the last will be stone, too is a book able to re-attune the senses to the glory and difficulty of the world.
are you an owl? in
the last will be stone, too
village of mourning cloaks
time and space collect
disperse for the good of all
(it's not all delicious)
fluorescent-edged and pasha
it's the bridges
we imagine matter
between no man's land and
from the invisible indigo light
of a primitive red-ochre death flight