Sunday, November 28, 2010

Patricia Spears Jones: PAINKILLER; that blue napkin

Literature remains alive only if we set ourselves immeasurable goals, far beyond all hope of achievement. Italo Calvino*

I have a sampling of poems from Patricia Spears Jones' new collection, PAINKILLER (Tia Chucha Press), in my little hot hands which will heaten-up even more when the full collection's in them.

In advance of that, a word from Calvino (above), one of Jones' poems and Confessions #1 and #2.

Jones is a furnace: of clear-sighted appraisal, of love, of rage, of engagement with and holy belief in poetry. And that's what Italo Calvino asks us to be. Her poetic voice forensically aligns with her real-world voice; I can hear, mind's ear, Patricia speak the challenge of her lines as I read them; that signals good writing. The old rules reveal their stilted imperfection in the light of. . .when scrutinized by. . .these poems' greater truth and earned lamentation.

Which is what Calvino wants, a grand ambition borne of a grand pain, a sleight of hand that can work only when the artist is confident and has necessary intelligence.

Patricia Spears Jones is a friend, and, no, I don't post poets because they are friends. I post when a little spark burns my fingers and I must cool them by fast fanning movement on a keyboard.

My Confession (#1): I stole the napkin, Catullus' napkin. I was young, it was hand-made and the beautiful blue of cyanide, the orgy was too much for me, I sensed the {Roman} empire was going belly down  (or up) soon enough, and I wanted a souvenir before historians-of-power faked the crime scene. But (Confession #2) I snuck back in to the party and returned the napkin, quietly, subtly, Catullus wasn't looking, really. So it wasn't me who was the kill-joy of our world. You gotta believe me. As the Roman empire, the "civilized" sphere, stomped on conquered cultures to end Original Fun, so its second-hand but wild revel was messed with by some little sneak who, as poet Catullus wrote a long time ago, ruined the party, and keeps sneaking back into the fun, ruining it, even now.

What the First Cities were All About

Cylinder seal/lapis lazuli
Yes, all blue, all the time
beer drinking Mesopotamians
dancing to the music made on the bull-headed lyre

The best in time best in show
best to know that partying is ancient,
inexorable and A LOT OF FUN

But where is that bull-head liar?
With whom is he flirting?
And what is she wearing, breasts perfumed
gleaming curls, black eyes encircled by kohl?

And how did the pig become THE NEW BULL?
Or is he THE NEW DOG, canine, Roman,
that other world, not as old, but just as festive--
togas, pendants, wine and moon madness.

Where is Catullus’ napkin?
Was it blue?

Patricia Spears Jones, PAINKILLER, Tia Chuca Press. Click on title for purchase info.

*More on "Multiplicity" and Italo Calvino's challenge to artists at Italo Calvino: immeasureable goals; dare

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