Friday, February 29, 2008

Simone Muench's Lampblack & Ash/Anti-Valentines for Desnos

Simone Muench's Lampback & Ash is a fittingly titled tour-de-force of language, not language poetry, but language as a sensuous and sinewy grappling with the other. The whole book is dotted with epigraphs by Robert Desnos--a French poet who died in the Nazi concentration camps and who becomes Muench's haunting muse; though many of the poems could be read as anti-valentines for Desnos, they also stand alone as encounters with others--in particular, ghastly and vampiric male others. But the collision of ecstatic language makes such a gothic poetic enterprise more than enjoyable. One hates to love love poetry that hates so much, and yet we do. Take, for example, this section from "By Your Mouth":
Days when I gaze into your glass
eye, archeological remains

of your tortured back, mustangs
gather at your open mouth.

You conspire against my pleasure,
your sadness is ferocious, taller

than Kilimanjaro. You live in my ribs,
a ruby boutonniere; you are plum

and pendulum; a car salesman in white
tie and tails. You're bizarre as innards,

buzzards as you stumble dream
to dream you reside in margins,

in the blurry vision of virgins;
in my eyes, you are aniline dye,

the deep south of your contagious mouth.

I think of the Clash: "love and hate tattooed across the knuckles of hands/hands that smack his kids around they don't understand...."

More to read at her website.

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