The Bees Make Money in the Lion

Lo Kwa Mei-en. Cleveland State University Poetry Center, $16 trade paper (76p) ISBN 978-0-9963167-3-6
Exuberant, verbally crowded, even chaotic, it can be easy to get lost in the odes, couplets, pastorals, and fantasias of this second outing from Mei-en (Yearling). Some lines nod to, or simply are, science fiction, with sentient arthropods and interstellar conflicts refracting social necessities. No wonder Mei-en quips "I have a futurist's job." Other pages depict an intense present; a moment of passionate, sexual self-destruction or self-creation: "my clear blown heart on clear cut flowers, a gin// jacket flashing shut on the wasteful night." Still other lines consider the frustrations of new Americans and the ambiguous boundaries of a nation: "my anthem a swollen scratch, a rift// of footwork out of the nation that sold her." Mei-en composes effusive reverse alphabetical acrostics, whose key nouns slide from Z back up to A; rhymed couplets; and echo-rich stanzas that recall (but are not) sestinas. Her density and surface difficulty mark her as modern, though suffused with a hint of Romanticism. Occasionally Mei-en's swarm churns so greatly no figure stands out, but more often than not it's a pleasure: "How I love to feed the lion, though her body be unbearable// and treacherous light." (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
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