Glass Psalms

Poetry is supposed to release a power to the reader that will hopefully save or enlighten their life in some way. If not, it’s a total waste of time. In the search for spiritual truths it would seem, there are many dark turns. In the paths that Jonathan Garfinkel takes in Glass Psalms, whether centralizing his focus on a memory, or interpreting the hostile world around us, the poet reflects with passion on lives he has encountered on his numerous journeys. Sometimes, perhaps tired of the world’s violent venting, Garfinkel minces staunch pessimism with a pursuit of global consciousness in these aggressively fragile and opposing poems. By observing the darkness, we can learn from it, oppose it. From diametric points of view, the poet finds time to put global reactionary sentiments aside and entangle himself romantic regret: “I have left everything./ The garden, hell,/the beekeeper’s daughter./ My heart, old compass,/ mast burning at sea” ( from “Listen : I crawl before You”). In “Building” Garfinkel’s voice is enslaved with empathy: “you find yourself reaching reluctantly/ into the fecund cunt of things/ et voila: the world is yours/the way it was when you were born.” In “Father” the poet shares a tender moment of religious impulse and vulnerability: “I bow/ Your beard accidentally/ brushes my forehead. I keep waiting for your kiss. The rabbi/speaks of forgiveness between men.” The unhinged moments of Garfinkel’s craft are the most potent and exciting, as the poet seems to point the barrel into the mouth of poetry itself: “Perhaps the phone rings, reminds the man/he knows nothing/ about that place where poetry/ was led to its hot death.” (from “Alone in a Room: a Still Life”). This is a macabre and illuminating theatre of poetic licence that doesn’t tolerate any waffling. (Nathaniel G. Moore)

by Jonathan Garfinkel, Turnstone Press, 607-100 Arthur St. Winnipeg, MB, R3B 1H3, $15.95,