Sunday, November 29, 2015



Hybrid Moments by Jon Curley
(Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2015)

Hybrid Moments begins with two introductory pieces. A program exists here albeit darksome in its make. The first piece, “Mission/Myth Shun Statement” announces a sort of plan or menu of activity. Bestriding the horse at a gallop, the poet proceeds a continuing dash, and too the book.

First sentence of that first piece:

Punning Pan merges lucid with ludic,
            sabotages the hopes of codifying rubric
& runs riot with his Rascalizer over manicured
minds and yawns at the lawns of the well-
kempt execs towards whom handbags of hex
are cast.

I should just review this sentence because a lot goes on here. The merger of lucid with ludic pretty well tells me I have art: simultaneous vision and play. Admittedly, I had to look up ludic, one of those words that find their expression outside your day's conversation, but a word of toll nonetheless. Google failed me what a Rascalizer is, but I can subtly guess.

The music is a bumpy ride here, a clatter of assonance and alliteration. As a rule, I love the solidifying effect of both. Here, I fear—whoa! assonance!—the soundings of these sounds seem enlisted to the point of forced. Rhyme is obvious, after all: that's the mnemonic point.

You may feel differently. I admit that I am a little failed by Gerard Manley Hopkins (referenced elsewhere in this book), but then something jumps from his lines. Similarly so with Curley.

The rush of language in this book reminds me of a work by Donald Byrd, The Great Dimestore Centennial. For that matter, Ed Dorn's great Gunslinger comes to mind in wired up lucubration. In all cases, the effort is showy. That effort is an exercise in grace and time.

Curley's grab for exotic words feels somewhat immobilizing. Jostled at a cantering pace, the words seem unprepared to mean more than briefly. Maybe that's how language really is.

Hybrid Moments consists of seven sections, not including the two poems seated before Part 1: Echo Gnomics. The poems within each section go untitled. I skim the details here to give a picture.

The final section bears the title Whiz Bang! Each poem within the section bears that same title. These are largely short poems that make me think of Williams' Kora in Hell. Quick bursts off the random moment. Curley explains with a cautionary note:
“A Whiz Bang! poem is composed to explode, releasing itself on a timer, its residua sharing the fate attributable to pollution and other daily emissions.”
Note to Author: Readers need not hear the author's hopes. Or perhaps this is a feint that I fall goofy to. Anyway, the poems in this section crackle most comfortably (for me) with wit and word.

Home foreclosures went up in the past
Few years for many—but not for the homeless.
They stayed steadfast to their homeland,
A staggering sequence of networks that goes
right through you, including your homes.

I do not give justice to this weighty work. I'm only here to show some routes. The work owns a structure that I only partly see, so far. The map is yours to behold.


Re. Allen Bramhall: A diminishing flow of poems, a continuing insistence in watching superhero movies with my son, an increasing interest in the healing, lifebound elation of creativity, and some websites:

Generally cheerful.

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