Monday’s Verse 1-21-08

Dear Readers,

In December I read a review of a new book by Michael O’Brien, some New York type cat I’d never ever heard of. The review claimed that “O’Brien is primarily an observer rather than a debater, and the poems here are heavy on isolated images, dream logic, bits of overheard conversation (typically urban conversation) and memories, with larger themes emerging through juxtapositions and repetitions.” Sounded good, yet I’ve found the poems were even dreamier than I’d expected, with less of the rhythm of city life or the hardness of concrete fact and detail. The following description, from the same review, is accurate: “Reading the best work here is like watching watercolors blur across wet paper, gradually mingling to produce soft yet definite shapes. It’s writing more interesting to sink into than to parse.” So maybe I won’t fully parse the selection below, which in any case stands up for itself and “tells a little story” more than most of the other poems from “Sleeping and Waking” do. I loved this one. No, it’s not an epigraph to the movie of the same name, but I think its spirit is not wholly inconsistent. -ed.


on the street she
yawns, her jeans
yawn, her knees 
rhyme with her eyes

helpless, half-suppressed
smile of the
girl in the
Bleecker Street subway,
trying hard not to 
beam across at her sweetie

work against correspondence, the
world is not a
book, everything is
not something else, you
could look it up


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