For sure there’s no end to roiled waters in Shane Neilson’s latest book: fracturing our attention along elided or conflated syntax embedded with strong, associative images in rapid fire, tightly compressed succession. “Rigid, stoic, mask: broken bone face/gun-shot face, son-dead face.” Eventually these and others images coalesce into a larger metaphor for the poet’s personal experience of violence and loss. Unable to reconcile his son’s pain with the medical system of which he is a part Neilson retreats into something larger than ambivalence: despair. Even the smallest manifestations of love seem futile in the face of pain and disease.
Profess systems of belief, of research:
your face and felt the pressing why, the need of space filling immolated
distances, the urge to erase fire. Were you beautiful? Remember yourself
as an effigy to burn and forget.”
“Oh the happiness I could have had mingling among you hedonists. You could have been great. I could have been great. But what you did to me…” (Cho)
No portals, and little
and dreaming of remote
Trinkets fall from pockets,
wallets strain against seat-seams
and the cries of the birds sound
then hit earth with a thud.
“Lithe, sleek, the discharge clamours past
wave. Reap the curve of the scythe:
the cortex a sundowning effect,
the crescent blade cutting past what we dream
and know how to be…”
That promise met, and one cry. I rhyme in dreams
I’ve watched you die, and die again, in dreams.
That promise met, and one cry, I rhyme in dreams.”