Ending in Planes & Third Voice by Ruth Ellen Kocher

$15 Noemi Press & $16.95 Tupelo Press (respectively)

Ending in Planes offers the reader an infinite sentence only capable in dreams. Imagine a speaker who needs not breath for the body of their words nor time to create them. In long lines devoid of punctuation, Ruth Ellen Kocher uses capital letters to denote the start of a “sentence.” Poems of this form, scattered throughout this collection, offer the reader the unending. Its syntax is dynamic and self-renewing. The effect reads like a long stumble through slumber.

Third Voice, Kocher’s most recent collection, is a text deeply concerned with the transformations required to make a performance. Though Tyehimba Jess’s remarkable, Pulitzer Prize-winning Olio engages similar themes through similar approaches, Third Voice is a unique collection deserving of critical thought and commensurate praise. Both excel in their treatment of the performance of race as entertainment and as a way to buttress whiteness. Throughout Third Voice, Kocher uses skits, monologues, speeches, dialogues, jokes—even a one-act—to brilliantly oscillate between tragedy and humor. —Kym Littlefield

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“The Benefits of Any Kind of Silver Light” (from Ending in Planes)

 

The facts aren’t obvious Into one hill and the next and then Cars everywhere Somewhere to go To whatever waits there And then All goes Sun goes Up there goes Behind you goes

 

Which is why light filled with your eyes comes into the room
In dark the light comes because the binary Always strikes To cancel out Dark with light But more often Light with dark

 

What do you tell people who leave somewhere Things fallen out of what we keep

 

He holds his hand in the air and says Signifier in a language you can only read

 

So what place can light go to But dark Until persona nihilum if that’s even right Since there is someone in the dark but not someone in the light

 

Thinking about the light means you think about eclipse Which wants another night A scheduled night that people talk about weeks in advance Are you watching they ask each other each time Eclipse wants another night Not this one A darker night like Neruda’s dark things Dark things which are loved

 

The eclipse you wander into A constellation you didn’t learn in high school but Homer you stole later Homer stands in the silver light also The window gives up Not Homer by light

 

You’ve read about the way you hear the way you speak Even though to speak prefigures your voice Not your utterance and Utterance is most useful for music that obscures music unless you take time unless you take time Because

 

T begs an extra moment and an extra moment T begs for To be endless Temecula Torrential Tectonic Tally You’ve talked about this all before To everyone

 

David Yezzi says the lyric voice is Eliot’s second voice (the poet talking to an audience) is the third voice (characters talking to each other)

 

Or the light says to you Not anyone else To you as though you will answer Come back We’re waiting to talk liquid We’re ready to talk star