The Girl Without Arms

Brandon Shimoda. Black Ocean (SPD, dist), $14.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-9844752-3-0
Grandeur and nakedness, visionary ambition and discomfiting honesty collide and combine in the long lines and big scenes of this latest book from the prolific and peripatetic Shimoda (The Inland Sea). Most of the volume comprises three sequences. All are, at least in part, love poems: the last two are tender, inviting, even as they cover a strange and ruined America. "Let us touch each other over the smear of a waterbird across the ground," Shimoda asks, invoking both the open arms of Walt Whitman and the BP oil spill; "Let us promise to put ourselves to better use than a wedding dress." Big sets of long sentences give way to great gaps that suggest destruction or trauma, a blank homecoming whose "garden has gone/ White with guano from the bombs." Shimoda's sequences have one eye on the very contemporary conditions of our current wars, the other on the expansive, postsurrealist techniques of the 1970s. With his "creative calculations of darkness/ Wanting after the ghost," his sometimes dreamlike takes on coastal landscapes, and his drifting recollection, Shimoda can seem to ramble, to lose control. Yet that loss at its best becomes the precondition for a reckless power, a knowingly foolhardy, sometimes comic investigation of what our instincts know. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2011
Release date: 02/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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