28.10.06

beware...

from my anthology of must read (a)merican poems

Victor Hernandez Cruz

An Essay on William Carlos Williams

I love the quality of the
spoken thought
As it happens immediately
uttered into the air
Not held inside and rolled
around for some properly
schemed moment
Not sent to circulate a cane
field
Or on a stroll that would include
the desert and Mecca
Spoken while it happens
Direct and pure
As the art of salutation
of mountain campesinos come to
the plaza
The grasp of the handshake upon
encounter and departure
A gesture unveiling the occult
behind the wooden boards of
your old house
Remarks show no hesitation
to be expressed
The tongue itself carries
the mind
Pure and sure
Sudden and direct
like the appearance
of a green mountain
Overlooking a town.


*

The strength in the poetry of Victor Hernandez Cruz is the ease with which he leads the reader to a final truth – as in “Problems with Hurricanes”:

If you are going out
beware of mangoes
And all such beautiful
sweet things.
Cruz exposes human frailty and the weakness in our sense of heroics and purpose. A chuckle from the reader gives way to an almost blinding revelation. But like most revelations, this one should not remain silent or hidden. What we learn, we pass on.

“An Essay on William Carlos Williams” begins with our moving out of self into the world: thoughts spoken “into the air / Not held inside and rolled”. This notion relates to the work of Williams ... a poetry from and for the everyday. No idea but in things. Cruz is a writer who appears to be, on the surface, removed from the tradition of Williams, but I read a connection.

The spoken should not be schemed but should be “Direct and pure”. There is danger in falsehood:
A gesture unveiling the occult
behind the wooden boards of
your old house
Using words such as uttered, circulate, stroll, unveiling, Cruz creates the sense of motion outward – out of the old house and into something new.

The impact of living is in the simple stuff of existence. The tiny bits. The overlooked. There is power, brilliance, and dread in the moment. Take note – Cruz tells the reader – when you move outside the comfort zone of faith & work & tradition – outside the self, outside the known. To experience the sweet things is to be changed – like the sudden glimpse of the mountain that is poised to change one’s life:
The tongue itself carries
the mind
Pure and sure
Sudden and direct
like the appearance
of a green mountain
Overlooking a town.
This impact is sudden, direct, and so necessary.

4 comments:

Natalie said...

Not sent to circulate a cane
field
Or on a stroll that would include
the desert and Mecca

What brilliant lines. What a brilliant poem. I think i have become an instant fan. Your critique is insightful and thought provoking, and downright interesting. Thanks.

Arlene said...

these poems are beautiful, sam. thanks for sharing — your comments are wonderfully perceptive.

jenni said...

Yea, I really enjoy the close readings you do -- they are always insightful and enjoyable, plus they've introduced me or re-introduced me to poets work. Thanks for what you do.

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks Natalie, Arlene, and Jenni for your words.