Wednesday, May 18, 2005

eratio postmodern poetry

There are some wonderful poems in the current issue of eratio. Take a few minutes and check them out. This is the kind of work that inspires me to be a better poet.

I want to describe this poem by Rosanna Licari as "haunting." I know that is an overused adjective in poetry criticism, but I can't help it. The last two lines get to me. What do you make of them?

the coast road

last night someone called my name
and i woke up to no one
but a book beside me

i measure sparsity between lines
and wonder what could have been said
then consider swimming in silence
thoughts float against skin
and seep into marrow —
if you dare speak of courage

i've had days filled
with dressing gowns, cups of tea
toast and too many cigarettes

once i took the long way home
beauty was stuck in my throat
for months.

Rosanna Licari

The speaker seems caught in a life of loniness and routine. She finds "sparsity" rather than meaning when she reads between the lines of her book--her only companion--and a metaphor for her life. When silent, her thoughts become palpable. "if you dare speak of courage:" the courage to confront her inner life, those thoughts and awareness of lonliness that threaten to seep through her whole body.

What follows is a list comprising her routine: dressing gowns, tea, toast, smoking. But there was a time when she broke from the rut, when she "took the long way home." The title refers to the "coast," the wildness and fluidity of the sea. Perhaps the long way home was a love affair, or a trip, or simply a drive to which the title alludes. "The coast road" also brings to mind the idea of "coasting" through life, possibly a way to describe how she has been living so far.

When the speaker breaks from coasting, when she sidetracks from her routine long enough to be aware of some life and beauty outside her home, the beauty becomes "stuck in [her] throat for months." Why? Perhaps it is too painful for her, once she returns home, to remember the beauty she is passing up. Perhaps that moment of awareness was a transient sensation; a powerful second of connectedness that flew off as soon as it came, and the memory haunts her.

What do you think?


W. S. Cross said...

Please drop by my site, I think you might find it to your liking. It's from a novel that takes place in grad school (Comp Lit at Yale in 1975). See if you'll like it.

Gilbert Koh said...

I can't help but feel a little disappointed. I think that there was more potential in the poem which the poet didn't really bring out fully.

First and last stanzas were nice, but the 2nd stanza in particular could have been improved. Especially if the idea of swimming was supposed to be somehow linked to going for a swim at the coast.

Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino said...


“Haunting” is a good word, Amy. It makes me think of possession -- of possession in all its senses. With her poetry, Rosanna Licari allows us access to her “inner life,” to a genuine and sincere sensibilities, and once there, lo!, we are more possessed by these sensibilities than in possession of them. This is her strength and her beauty, and her mystery.

Hey, Amy, where can we see Your poetry? Why not send some over to eratio?