Monday, July 16, 2007

Permanent Press, Press

Oh look how lovely it looks:

February by Aaron Tieger
from Fewer & Further Press
(c) 2006

Pamplona

Garlic soup & a film
of you,
when will you slosh
down stone steps
turning
like a spoon

My rainy self ducks
into doorways
of chainstores now.
Memories float
down streets
of missing signs.

Garlic soup
and grenadine
and ham and cheese
and flan.

Cafés disapear
every few years.

(I can't get the spacing right, sorry about that)

Have you ever been in the theater and watched a scene in a movie where a person jumps into a river? You see him somersault underwater, open his eyes, and swim towards the sunlight hitting the top waves. And when he finally burst out of the water into the steaming air, you exhale and realize that you've been holding your breath for the whole scene, for as long as the character who's been submerged underwater. And you look around next to you to see if your movie-neighbor is laughing at you as you catch your breath. And of course they don't care, and then you realize you're not embarrassed, but secretly pleased you were caught up in the immediacy of the moment. Well, that's what it's like reading February by Aaron Tieger, a chapbook of poems composed during the title month. Yet, while these poems would never be a scene in an action movie, they somehow elicit the same response. His poems seem to open drawers of sweaters he wore 5 years ago, and each sweater evokes memories and experiences so sharp that you find yourself suddenly wearing these sweaters, looking out of the winter window he is standing in front of.

While his chapbook opens with, "Waking early from/ dreams of waking early," this collection doesn't seem to be about recurrent dreams as it does recurrent memories and premonitions- and navigates how we fit into them. In the second half of the first poem, Tieger writes, “cats all over / your face on / my face / my birthday / in a month.” Without any punctuation, it’s possible simply to read the line as “cats all over your face[and] on my face” so that the cats are casually pummeling two people in bed while the idea of the imminent birthday is somehow separate, an event that does not yet touch either of them. Or you can read the line as, “cats all over your face on my face.” Here, the physical intensity is heightened, two people squished together underneath squirming felines. Yet another version emerges, “cats all over your face. On my face, my birthday in a month.” In this reading, while one person is distracted with an affectionate pet and the physicality of its playfulness, the other is much more removed, preoccupied with an impending birthday and all the things one tends to associate positively or negatively with aging and assessments. In his work lies both possibility for deep connection and isolation. And Tieger consistently succeeds with his (ambiguous) line and stanza breaks because however he personally experienced these moments, he lets you decide upon your own level of emotional intimacy and physicality with the scenes he distills- how close you want to get to the “sleeping cats / on every couch” and how many sweaters you layer on to fight the cold.

Throughout the poems in February, there is a tension between the somehow unnerving encroachment of this birthday, the shifting nature of landscape/architecture, and a comforting level of domesticity and camaraderie. We’re reminded that “Cafés / disappear / every few years,” and of “Russian tea & a view / no longer there.” Yet, as these things may now be intangible, there is still the immediacy of the “you,” tugging. Just when the sense of loneliness sharpens and flexes, it’s curbed with lines like “Garlic soup & a film / of you” or “in bed my head / you neck / & back.” Instead of holding your breath, you look down the street and hold the same observational sadness and sparseness, but these poems allow you to exhale, turn your head to watch a familiar figure entering the room.

So, basically, you should order a copy. And while you're at it, check out more chapbooks by F&F because they're all quite gorgeous.

Now it's time for your favorite game, Google Idiom Image Search
"Driving Someone Up the Wall" by Google Image

Mrs. Claus is looking young, pissed, and Medieval.

"Apple Of My Eye" by Google Image

I believe there's about to be some serious leeching going on here. Ew. Backward doctors, etc. Did I ever tell you that the creepiest fortune cookie I ever got just said, "You are the apple of my eye." Thanks, I guess.

3 comments:

Jess said...

Thanks for writing up February! Aaron is one of my favorite poets, obviously.

gina said...

I wrote a review of February many moons ago, but it hasn't seen the light of day yet. I think I was holding my breath while reading that paragraph about the movie.

Also, that picture totally drives me up the wall!

Julia Cohen said...

Aw, now I want to read your review! The "your" in my last sentence would be in italics if I could figure out how to use this damn machine.