It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the work of Russell Libby, so it is always interesting to get one of his chapbooks in the mail. The most recent to come my way is Each Day (and I have to confess, I've had it awhile, but that just built up the suspense) and I thought I'd share a handful of poems from the collection with you today. Here's a little ku I just love ...
School of herring
When your poem has six words and one of them is repeated, you are probably committing an act of bravery, foolishness, or poetical magic - it seems to me obvious which one this is.
Russell is a man of the moment and there are many fine moments in this collection. These moments are even more poignant and precise in light of the fact that the poet has confronted serious illness and held his ground. The next poem, which concludes the collection, touches on this:
In the Night
Oh, that not-quite-crack
as a rib flexes,
and maybe breaks,
in the night.
Do I get another X-ray
that tells me
what my body
or just use each breath
as a reminder of the beauty
of the day?
This seems something of a rhetorical question coming at the conclusion of a volume which is a string of a beautiful moments beheld and passed on but it most certainly is not. It is the poet confronting the world, and so the question must be asked again and again, revealing a deliberate, measured approach, the only sane way to proceed in a world of doubt and wonder.
These poems are contemplative, at times so quiet as seeming to lack insistence. This, however, is a matter of tone and not message; what seems not insistent is, in fact, persistent. Reading the collection through a second time, a whole vista which I missed initially was manifest. Though made up of so many individual parts, the collection is held together by the poet's persona, steady, observant, and in love, really, with all that he encounters.
Although I know it isn't true, I feel as if there are birds on every page and that gives me great joy. The feeling might best be described as if birds were flying throughout Each Day, skipping from here, alighting there, moving about as it were within the book, of their own accord, a continual presence in a singularly beautiful world (and book).
I'll finish this post with the introductory poem, which perfectly describes the little volume itself, the experience of it for the poet and, as such, for the reader, too:
Sun just over trees.
My shadow, forty-three paces long,
precedes me down the hill.
Plenty of space to think
between here and there.
So, I lied; here's one more, another excellent little haiku, for a little balance to this post:
other end of hammock
Each Day is available for $4 postpaid from: Russell Libby, Three Sisters Farm, 53 Weston Rd, Mount Vernon, ME 04352. Treat yourself, straight from the author, the way it should be.
With a little tip of the hat in two directions, the following Issa haiku reminds me of one of my favorite poetry blogs of all, Red Dragonfly, from that blog takes its name:
have you come
to save us haiku poets?
translated by David G. Lanoue
Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.
Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 129 songs