Sunday, October 19, 2008

Five Books of Marriage by Harry Owen (poetry)

Book Review by Zinta Aistars

Paperback: 108 pages
Publisher: AuthorHouse (June 6, 2008)
Price: $10.99
ISBN-10: 1434371077
ISBN-13: 978-1434371072

Almost enough to make you want to peel your heart again, open it up and toss it up to the bright sky and risk flame. Harry Owen puts the heart to poetry, peels it raw, exposes its hard pit, crushes it into dust, then from dust forms man again. These are his five books of marriage, and it is a marriage of one and one, two others, but also one and one, self to self.

There's that first, hot blush:

a tongue roving her moist-lubed helix

to a sudden hot

seizure, a two-stroked scream, a poem

where all metaphor dies.

There's that hitting of a flat place, when water goes flat as foil, and when a marriage grows inexplicably cool, even while one is left wondering at the loss and what could possibly come after:

But restored to the depths, will he dream of

the suns he has seen? Will he scavenge the dark silt

lusting for that terror of dazzling truth...

And will he live?

He does. And how. As raw and brave and as primal as ever, in memories alongside a rites of passage into new, traveling back and forth, because we all know time in love is never linear:

We shall rise, you and I, like a gloom

and feast.

And she? Is:

too old a habit to wear again,

too clamped a future to recollect,

too filled with emptiness to cry.

So one moves forward, because there really is no choice in the matter. Decision Time:

In the end it isn't hard -

you face the wall,

reach the bottom of the sand-slope,

stand at the water's edge.

Think about it, write it down:

Yes or no?


And so Book 5 is that new beginning, some poems of which are a reoccurence of those that appeared at the very beginning... Gen and also Levis, Owen's sensuality coming to life again, hope alive again, as beautiful, no, more beautiful still for all its imperfection:

...It's obverse,

negative, inside-out, this happiness,

not borrowed but felt, owned:

your plain reflection in clear glass,

every scar, every blemish

and it is good.

Owen is more than good. As I remarked when I first came across his work: achingly good. He has all the marks of a grand poet, and is one. His love of language is slick and fine and wonderful: alliteration, play, fresh metaphor, the stunning a-ha moment, the twist and surprise, the absolute courage of the true artist to go naked onto the printed page. One very nearly says a prayer of thanks by book end for its blessing of rebirthed ordinary language dipped into the sauce of extraordinary. One does.

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