One Turn Around the Sun

Tim Seibles. Etruscan, $16 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-0-9903221-8-4
In his sixth collection, Seibles (Fast Animal) explores his own sense of mortality by recalling black American family life in Philadelphia during “the early 60s: the news/ just beginning to bleed.” The title poem, an extended free verse riff on time, loss, and regeneration, finds portraits of his upwardly mobile parents undercut by painful historical realities. “They should be famous/ for getting dressed,” he writes, “the morning after/ Martin Luther King was killed.” Seibles employs some familiar ruminations on civil rights, aging masculinity, and family elegy in his odes and villanelles, but his jazzily unpredictable associations bring freshness to these themes: “Suppose, just once, you saw a middle-aged maniac/ skating telephone wires like a squirrel, or one/ glad woman jumping balconies and boulevards/ as if time were a trampoline.” In his cosmic strain of observation, which “starts sub-atomically” with quarks and neutrinos and zooms outward to view the Milky Way, consciousness comes to be seen as “the Great Mischief.” Seibles’s refusal to sentimentalize family life or his own baser urges lends credibility to the more surreal rhetorical and metaphorical leaps, buoying the reader with him on history’s turbulent sea: “If the self/ is a small ship// one of its sails,/ some of the time,// grows plump with air like this.” (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 02/01/2017
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