rain mountain press

Mosquito Operas by Philip Dacey

Stephanie Dickinson advised us that the Poet Philip Dacey passed away on July 7th. You can learn more about the poet by visiting his website http://philipdacey.com/ In his memory we are posting 3 reviews of his books first published at The Fox Chase Review.

mosquito

 

Review by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri 

Mosquito Operas by Philip Dacey is like riding a carousel – each poem either a stationary object or a horse that goes up and down while circling to the notes that make up the music, if you are listening.  Sometimes the carousel is roofless and you are looking up spinning through time, as one of the eight planets circling the sun.  Sorry Pluto!

Dacey’s  ideas are always moving, always circling, always spinning around you.  Starting with poems of one to three lines, he builds to long sequences by the last pages.

As for humor there are many instances of irony, starting with an eight word poem with a six word title: HOW I ESCAPED THE LABYRINTH – It was easy./ I kept losing my way.  to BUMPER STICKER HAIKUS – #5 – An unendangered/ species. The red-tailed/lane-switcher to many others of varying lengths.

As for a meditational poem, NOTES OF AN ANCIENT CHINESE POET (1 – 10), with # 6 as: Listen to the voice/of each dead poet as if/it were yours/It is.  Some others include – MEMORIZING POEMS and INSOMNIA, but these include Dacey’s sprinklings of wit mixing through the batter of thought.

As for common life experiences there are poems where Dacey is a keen observer of his mother hanging laundry, a son watching his father get a haircut and a son bowling.  These poems will give the reader a chuckle, but  a beautifully written poem, NEEDLE AND THREAD, has many fresh metaphorical images throughout it, especially stanza three: It’s the pleasure/of biting off the thread,/an animal with/an umbilical cord.

As for tribute poems, there’s one to Hart Crane,  mothers, a skinny man pumping iron, three prostitutes in East St. Louis, Illinois, but perhaps the most compelling one is his last poem in this collection, entitled ANGLES, describing  the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Washington, D.C.. Each stanza of the 14 stanzas can be read and pondered alone or woven into and out of the other stanzas.  This is the most powerful poem in Dacey’s collection.

He’ll take you from one mosquito chapter to five, all of them biting your skin, leaving their marks on you, but not before buzzing by your ear and if you’re really listening – you’ll hear anything from one quick note to an operatic score.

You can purchase Mosquito Operas at this link:http://rainmountainpress.com/books14.html

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, a native Philadelphian, is the author of three full-length poetry collections.More about Diane can be found athttp://www.dianesahms-guarnieri.com/ &https://dianesahmsguarnieri.wordpress.com/

 

Church of the Adagio by Philip Dacey

Stephanie Dickinson advised us that the Poet Philip Dacey passed away on July 7th. You can learn more about the poet by visiting his website http://philipdacey.com/ In his memory we are posting 3 reviews of his books first published at The Fox Chase Review.

church-of-the-adagio

Review by Dennis Daly 

I don’t know about you, but lately life’s gales seem to gust past me toward the thin-lipped, unforgiving horizon. I’m always looking for that bloody slow button. Philip Dacey offers relief by setting up his Church of the Adagio in the artificial spaces that creativity engenders. His poetic moments linger until they don’t. Time stops and starts as anticipation surges through the connecting nerves as you climb over the profane and the sacred stanzas, easing into and then merging with the lines. It’s damn reassuring. He makes it so.
 
In Llama Days, a serendipitous poem plotted out in formal verse, Dacey considers the many facets of wonder encompassed in a brief meeting of unintroduced species, a parsed parley, which changes the very nature of time twice: first, the convocation itself suspends the protagonist’s disbelief, and second, the poem, itself emerges out of artistic (read daydream) time. Here’s the moment of decision in the heart of the poem,
 .
But llama? I’d never noticed one before,
though no doubt my surprise at seeing him
was matched by his at seeing me—or more
then matched, he being lost, freedom become
 .
a burden twice as bad as any bars,
so much so panic struck and he turned
back, high-stepping it onto the road,
two-laned, tarred, and I saw the headline,
“Llama killed by truck.”
 .
Dropping the rake, I raced to rescue him,
Who now stood frozen, straddling the centerline…
 .
Attempts at political poems crash and burn all the time. The more self-righteous the poet the better the chance of failure. True believers rarely produce first rate art. There are exceptions however. Dacey’s poem News of the Day, for instance, takes three historical examples of man’s inhumanity to man, cedes some freedom to formalist techniques, slowing down a river of natural anger, and creates three hardened jewel-like pieces. He sets his inspired words into two rondels and a sonnet. The Hiroshima rondel is beyond exceptional. The last stanza burns into you,
 .
The room reshaped itself around me,
night disguised itself as day, and words,
undone, turned ash. Gone blind by ecstasy
of sight, my eyes read fire. When spines
began to run, I turned the page and fell
into the sun.
 .
Another curiosity in this book is the way Dacey moves almost seamlessly from formal poetry of the strictest type ( rondels, villanelles, sestinas)  into languid free verse and then back into formality. The relaxed prosy narrative of Dacey’s free verse poem White Trash lures you into an ongoing joke with very serious undertones. The poet opens his piece matter-of-factly,
 .
When middle-class blacks
moved into my family’s neighborhood
in St. Louis in the Fifties
and we and all our neighbors
moved out, the property values
soared. Lawns greened, junkers
disappeared. I realize now
I was white trash.
 .
Maybe I’m still white trash.
My parents never told me.
Did they know? Do they know now?
I like having a clear identity,
if not the one I’d have chosen for myself.
I’d long ago accepted the notion I was
gutter Irish…
 .
My Allen Ginsberg Story, Dacey’s humorous poem of admiration, rocks one
with fastidious details of stage props and prescribed paraphernalia. One
doesn’t usually associate the word fastidious with Allen Ginsberg. And here
lies the rub. Ginsberg apparently acted as a diva before readings with assorted
ecentric demands. The myth of artistic spontaneity slows down and breaks into component parts in this piece. Ginsberg leaves nothing to chance when it comes
to adding honey to his tea. The piece’s form, free verse lines, as Ginsberg might
have written them, almost adds another layer of irony to the poem. Here are some
lines from the heart of the composition,
 .
Ginsberg saw me looking at the traffic jam
of paraphernalia and smiled. No doubt he
knew the effect of his phone call—beyond
bizarre, honey as an emergency. But now
it seemed the act of a consummate pro,
perfectionist  even, showman not about to
let an accident break  a spell. I thought of
Whitman, whose “spontaneous me” didn’t
stop him from revising some poems for
decades. He’d agree that to place a honey
jar and spoon amidst that crush would ask
for a disaster. Still smiling, Ginsberg said,
“You see what I mean.”
 .
Leaping between the arts of dance and writing Dacey’s poem Nijinsky: A Sestina  describes both the medicinal and the madness inherent in the famous dancer’s life. It turns out that Nijinsky was also a talented diarist whose words soar as they detail ruin and degradation.  Dacey’s sestina in homage to Nijinsky is a short-lined poem with odd end words that Najinsky sputtered out nonsensically at one point in his life. But there is no nonsense in Dacey’s poem. The piece is a triumphant pas de deux between the poet and his subject.
 
One of this collections unusual pieces, The Cockroach Ball, skitters in with beautiful phrasing and organic unhesitant rhymes. Dacey uses the villanelle form here and it is lovely. Along with the obvious humor, the poet expresses his rather wondrous sensitivities. The poem works! Cockroach love in the midst of poverty—who would have thought it possible?
 
My advice: worship at Dacey’s Church of the Adagio for the very best in contemporary poetry. And do it as soon as possible.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Church-Adagio-Philip-Dacey/dp/0989705145

Dennis Daly has been published in numerous poetry journals and magazines and recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.  Ibbetson Street Press published The Custom House, his first full length book of poetry in June, 2012. His second book, a verse translation of Sophocles’ Ajax, was published by Wilderness House Press in August, 2012. His third book of poems entitles Night Walking with Nathaniel was recently released by Dos Madres Press. A fourth book is nearing completion. http://dennisfdaly.blogspot.com/