Friday, April 26, 2013

John Martone: skeleton key - Small Press Friday

John Martone's book, a skeleton key, is a symbiotic combination of word and image. Both are by the poet himself, image every bit as stunning as word. There is much I could say about this work, but I must demure and let the work largely speak for itself.

a skeleton deer come to comfort you

This is no desku; the brilliant white bone, the whiteness of death confronting you like no other whiteness.

Confronts you?

Comforts you?

see thru


that freight 

New meaning is given here to sight, to sound - do you see it, do you hear it? 

from rest


in root

One of the great virtues of the short poem, the haiku-like poem, is its engagement with the reader, demanding that the work be completed by another - this, for me, is a novel in 8 words.

all this 

you too


Ah, now here is another layer of story, a veil seen through to an other meaning - here is the key, right before you - do you know which door it fits precisely?

seagulls circle
hominid crouches
skeleton deer

Closer, closer, closer still ... 

Still ...

winter gusting
thru skeleton deer
nothing at all


skeleton deer
   crawdad hole

skeleton deer
   muskrat lodge

skeleton deer
   beaver dam

skeleton deer
   warbler's nest
   heron nest
   redwing nest
   squirrel nest

skeleton deer
skeleton deer
& all gone home 

You can hear it now, can't you? It's singing to you, it might be a little nursery rhyme, a bit of a jump rope jingle, something of a truism deeper and more profound than words themselves?

skeleton deer
now a trillion
invisible lives

A trillion lives ... seems almost just a handful, really. Find this intriguing? Want to read the whole thing? Mr. Martone has loaded skeleton key up on scribd, so just click on through. But bring your A game ...

... not the poetry one.  The Other one.

Oh, by the way, skeleton key was shortlisted and received an Honorable Mention for this year's Haiku Foundation Touchstone Distinguished Books Award.  So, really, give it a go. 
I think Bashō would be proud.


the deer's flute playing
song in the night
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 163 songs


Ed Baker said...

John tends towards
picking the bones down
to their essence - masterfully

and then freely gives things away

Brian said...

And where might Martone’s words end and yours begin?

As always, the minimal gestures which compose your ‘reviews’ are as enlightening as the chosen selections.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Perfect, Ed.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Brian ... I'm very grateful for your kind review of these 'reviews." Cheers. Don