Sunday, December 28, 2008

Flying at Night and Sure Signs by Ted Kooser

These two collections are interesting. Someone described them to me as a reminder of Billy Collins, my favorite poem, and I am afraid I have to disagree. The poems do capture simple moments, and “snap photographs” of images, as Collins does, but there is a little less humor, and a bit less easily flowing language. Furthermore, many of the poems while not depressing, are sad. “Abandoned Farmhouse,” for example, recounts the shades of lives lived in an old house. Several recall moments of remembering at a funeral or a cemetery.

I liked these poems, though; the simplicity of language and ideas was pleasing. One good example is “Daddy Longlegs” from Flying by Night:

Here, on fine long legs springy as steel
a life rides, sealed in a small brown pill
that skims along over the basement floor
wrapped up in a simple obsession.
Eight legs reach out like the master ribs
of a web in which some thought is caught
dead center in its own small world,
a thought so far from the touch of things
that we can only guess at it. If mine,
it would be the secret dream
of walking alone across the floor of my life
with an easy grace, and with love enough
to live on at the center of myself. (108)

Another short poem from the same volume, and which is probably my favorite, is “At the Center”

In Kansas, on top
of an old piano,
a starfish, dry
as a fancy pastry
left sitting there
during a wedding,
spreads its brown arms
over the foam
of a white lace doily,
reaching for water
in five directions. (122)

Most of the poems in Sure Signs can also be found in Flying, so start with that, because it also contains about 40 poems from One World at a Time, including the two I mentioned here. Four stars

--Chiron, 12/28/08

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