love scene in miniature
Litzine, S. Howe., $5
Do you know why people hate poetry? I do. People hate poetry because it makes you work. Even simple poems have layers we can’t unlock until we’ve experienced more life. Most people are going to hate Howe’s Long poem; LSIM. Howe makes you work hard as they describe every detail of a sexual encounter using unyielding symbolism, with literal language sparsely sprinkled throughout. This type of poetry is almost impossible to critique, for a critic of this poem is more likely to be evaluating it on the limits of his or her own understanding rather than the actual value of the poem itself. The symbolism I could decipher, I found quite clever.
“Mallet flesh sheathed” = A condom on a big cock
“Wet star aim still gossamer” = A butthole
“Fetid male finger” = Stink finger
And actually, I’m not even positive I got those right. I had to use a dictionary for a lot of these words. It’s fun to work hard for meaning in art but some lines I knew I was never going to understand.
“Segmented pedrest of love limping prank master in tubular outfit.”
The reason most people hate poetry is the same reason I love it. Our culture gravitates to art, media and conversations that are plainly spoken and clearly understood. I think of the 2016 science fiction movie Arrival here – if the film is correct in its assumption that our language shapes how we think, what is English but a language that tries to ensnare and limit meaning? The Hebrew language for instance works with many levels of meaning. A Hebrew sentence can mean this AND that. An English sentence is ever only this OR that. So Howe, like many before, is using this limited language to do what the language is not equipped for— to stretch and master it. (dustan j. hlady)