Chapbook Review: A New Love/ An Aching Stone

A New Love/ An Aching Stone

Chapbook, Pete Smith,, 23 pgs, $4


a-new-love-an-aching-stoneA New Love/ An Aching Stone is, contextually, pretty clear from the get go. The cover introduces the text as a somewhat fractured spirit: partial photos of two men are arranged side by side, yet separated by a triangular wedge of negative space. Their half-smiles align but do not meet in the middle. The dialogue is frustrated and I haven’t even flipped the thing open yet. The title page reads: “A double-cento out of Yehuda Amichai Mahmoud Darwish.” The former was an Israeli poet and the latter, a Palestinian poet. And so, the text’s political backbone surfaces. Throughout the text, Pete Smith examines the correspondence of Israeli-Palestinian art and identity with a whisper of futility. “Poetry isn’t poetry / because of the wall. / Which exile do you want?”

A New Love/ An Aching Stone is quick to set up circumstantial boundaries. But there is plenty of poetic ambiguity throughout, rest assured. The speaker laments the loss of identity both individual and collective: “The dust is my conscious, the stone my subconscious: / a heavenly horizon … and a hidden chasm / which wasn’t even good for thorns and thistles / in the emigrant’s night.” History is clouded by dust and dark convictions: “Perhaps I’ve been here once before, / the road of invaders who want to renovate their history, / make again a new love / over an aching stone.”

Pete Smith’s writing is strong and produces a clear poetic vision — a vision of fragmented political and cultural histories. And, in doing so, A New Love/ An Aching Stone remains wholeheartedly empathetic. (Jeff Low)