The Father of the Arrow Is the Thought

Christopher DeWeese. Octopus (SPD, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-0-9851182-9-7
In his mesmerizing second collection, DeWeese (The Black Forest) pushes against the limits of the Romantic lyric and finds ways to break through. Each poem takes its title from the terrain DeWeese meditates on, in, and sometimes as—“The Hill,” for example, is narrated by a hill. Many of the poems seek a balance between sincere praise for “how totally amazing/ that from dirt/ grow proud tomatoes” and frank horror at the “fucked ecosystem,” not to mention the “overwhelming inheritance” of American history. In his strongest moments, DeWeese’s long, winding sentences lead readers on unexpected routes: “The Bluff” addresses war and privilege in the voice of a soldier, “The Valley” figures the fog as the beloved, and “The Lagoon” imagines herons as “the tendons/ the lagoon uses/ to hold itself together.” His commitment to momentum has its hazards, whether it’s carrying his thinking past lucidity or too quickly away from subjects deserving more sustained attention. But in such pieces as “The Tide,” an impressive rumination on time, youth, and parenthood, his lines are taut, on target, and strike with surprising poignancy. “I’m trying to float/ between the cruciform sun/ and what happens/ when our eyes are closed,” DeWeese writes, and he succeeds in leading his readers to that strange spot. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/21/2015
Release date: 08/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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