To Keep Time by Joseph Massey

($17.95 Omnidawn)

With his third collection, Massey invokes the likes of Lorine Niedecker, Larry Eigner, and Joseph Ceravolo with short, sharp stanzas in which man-made objects coalesce with nature and vectors of light kiss spheres of color. He even calls up, in certain segments, the non-domestic elements of Rae Armantrout’s Language poetry. Birds, bugs, clouds, pavement, power lines are commingled across a vaulted dimension that smacks of ours but smells a bit alien.

Massey is in essence a landscape photographer of Californian treks. He is a student of surroundings as well as of sources; of climates and of angles; of captured moments, kept time. One who builds terrain from space, who daily revisits that split second before violet flees sunset, who doles worth to flowers as readily as he does road pylons. And by being such a student, Massey is able to distill into his wispy verse all the complexities of humanity’s Earthly wedlock.

“Fenced”

The day is
contrapuntal:

dogs bark,
vehicles
plunk past.

In air gritty
with ocean

horseflies
and gnats

etch
colliding
hieroglyphs

while the
humming-
bird feeder

sways in time
to a thought

interrupted,
moment-

arily empty.

* * *

“Wrack Zone”

It’s the ocean
sounding out

a panic
I otherwise

couldn’t
pronounce.

Ouroboric
vowel fixed

to a low sky’s
loop of

variable white.

+

Decayed
rope of

bull-head
kelp

distends
from tide-

tamped
sand.

Mind
mirrors

that surface,
shape,

the moment
I imagine

if I thought
far enough

I’d leave my
face.

 

Posted by Alexander