The True Keeps Calm Biding Its Story

Rusty Morrison, Author . Ahsahta $17.50 (88p) ISBN 978-0-916272-98-2

In the nine groups of six poems, all titled “please advise stop,” that form Morrison’s remarkable Sawtooth Poetry Prize–winning second volume, the now-archaic yet ever-mechanical language of the telegram is used to plumb the vicissitudes of grief and grapple with the death of the speaker’s father. Each line of these unpunctuated, nine-line poems ends with “stop,” “please” or “please advise,” appealing to some ghostly reader for assistance. The rhythm and torque Morrison (Whethering ) creates is exquisite and evocative. Often dark and aphoristic, these lines shift between momentary observation (“the water puddle sways like an earthbound kite stop”), pained seeking (“night might still be floating somewhere above us its blood supple and aromatic stop”) and near action, perhaps in the hope of relief (“I stare until I consider the scene truly acknowledged stop”); always, anguish is an instrument for change. Most haunting are the poems’ final, pleading words: “into the dark trees invite the darker birds please advise.” Morrison’s vamp on grief not only draws readers’ attention to the tenuous capacity of language to manage loss, but also leaves the reader moved by what comes to feel like an intensely intimate work. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/21/2008
Release date: 01/01/2008
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