cover image A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow

A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow

Noah Eli Gordon. New Issues Poetry Press, $14 (89pp) ISBN 978-1-930974-68-5

With obfuscating cascades of images and precisely tumbling syntax, the 33 archly titled poems and sequences in Gordon's fourth collection attempt to assemble, sometimes like a computer running a poetic algorithm, a hallowed new world flush in art and music. Written with exactness (sonnet sequences, a series of seven line poems, anaphora, etc.), the pieces are thickly smattered with the bedrock and easy emotion of the deep image, the hipster-abstract, and bible-ese: ""the sound of smoke // was that of expansion // but the breaking of bread // like a dusk-shadow // became a name // losing itself in echo."" When Gordon (Novel Pictorial Noise, chosen by John Ashbery for the National Poetry Series) directs instead of alludes, wonderful harmonies accrete from these patterns: ""forget almond trees, grapes & poppies // what he wouldn't believe is the inescapable music here // the night filling with beloved firetrucks // cover your ears to cover the passing sirens // praise the passing sirens."" An intellectual latitude is at work here: Gordon references Barthes, Holderlin, Novalis, Stein, Twombly and many others that shadow the cacophony here. If the reader is sometimes pushed away by all the activity, the verse that floats to the top can be stunning.