cover image The Bigger World

The Bigger World

Noelle Kocot. Wave (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-933517-52-0

The poems of this fifth book from Kocot (Sunny Sunday) are what she calls "character poems," essentially tiny fictions in verse lines, motored by the traditions of the fable and fairy tale and a flair for the surreal reminiscent of Russell Edson's prose poems. Each poem opens by introducing an unlikely character or two ("Rick was a polyamorous shaman/ Who moonlighted as a detective") then proceeds to run the protagonist(s) through a little life maze, often involving the difficult quest for love: " ‘I don't care if she is on a respirator,/ I want to go dancing with her,' Roland/ Cried. Jeanine meant the world to him/ And her brain injury only made her/ More attractive." Along the way, Kocot stumbles upon all manner of lyric beauty: one poem mentions "the red acres of language," while another features a man who "made art, and in his/ spare time, he wept. He/ Kept away from edges." As in all good fables, Kocot forgoes subtle symbols for precise and darkly humorous ones that immediately evoke emotion and morality: "The giant anaconda that/ Had been chasing her dissolved." And, like fairly tales for grownups, these little narratives often end with happiness unmistakably shaded by disappointment, as when a newly reconciled mother and son "walked/ Silently on, not out of the flames/ Or anything, but just walked on." (Apr.)