Monday, October 19, 2009

What I'm Reading: City of Regret

For the past six months or so, I've been intrigued by individual poems written by Andrew Kozma and appearing in different journals. Most recently, I found two poems in Copper Nickel 12 that moved me to ask the library to ILL Kozma's book City of Regret. (I'm still trying to buy several books of poetry each month, but recently the budget monster reared its ugly head!)

I think I'm drawn to Kozma's work because his poems seem steeped in elegy and the kind of images that surprise without showing off. City of Regret is certainly a book about mourning but it is also a reconciliation with what it means to be alive in this amazing, conflicted world. The main mourning of the book centers around the loss of the speaker's father, but there are also hints of mourning for a lost lover and an opening toward hope in the end.

Here's a short poem in example:

The Transplant Ward

Even the most sincere in need
wait months or years, eyes fixed

to the walls like water stains.

They practice feeling hollow

with hands on their chests,

caging those small moments of space

they won't remember
when surgeons unhook the heart

and hold the body open
as it rushes to fill itself.

Some lines from "Dedicatory Letter"

... Now the silkworms
are wrapped tight in their own madness.

Will you hear their cries? Their demands lack teeth.

Their hold on you is an emptied leaf.

God, your eyes are closed, and though your breathing is even

this means nothing. Crops are as easily destroyed

by an apathetic rain as a broken dam.

And the closing lines from "Elegy for the End of the Day"

When the shadows devour the leaves

I remember your skin, perfect
for vanishing against unlit wood.

Bless this ending, this empty husk

that does not need to be saved.

City of Regret
Andrew Kozma
Zone 3 Press, 2007


Andrew Kozma said...

Thank you for the careful readings of poems both within and without City of Regret. It's always great 1) to hear randomly about someone reading your work and 2) to have it read with such thoughtfulness. From your poems in Copper Nickel, your poems share the same elements you talk about in mine.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Andrew, you're welcome and thanks for stopping by here. It was great to share some space with you in CN. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.