cover image Illocality


Joseph Massey. Wave (Consortium, dist.), $18 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-940696-15-7

“No ideas/ but in parking lots,” writes Massey in his fourth collection as he picks up where 2014’s To Keep Time leaves off, this time invoking the specter of William Carlos Williams. He pays close attention to his immediate surroundings, in poems built with a keen ear and in sparse lines that appear luminous on the open space of the page. The collection spans the first year of Massey’s move from California to Western Massachusetts, and as a result the poems sketch the “shadow of a row of icicles on white stucco” found in the jarring “early dark” of East Coast winters. Massey writes through a fascinated separation from his new locale, attempting to find some pattern or meaning while reading “the cartography/ of the cold.” Yet it is the bewildering new landscape, the shifting of light and sound that define a day or an hour, that for the poet mirrors the architecture of language: “the way I’d want/ a line to move/ to carve space,” he observes, is akin to “An exchange/ between light and wind.” Massey’s lines exude the simple beauty of every scene he observes and seem to suggest the paradox inherent in attempting to articulate each present instant: “no/ world without/ delineation. No/ thing until/ detonated/ into its word.” [em](Sept.) [/em]