Two Minute Hustle

February 17, 2014

2013-10-20 18.03.06 Acetelene in Wilderness (2)

Poetry often begins with some event a poet wants to remember, but frequently develops into events the poet can’t seem to forget. So it is with two terrifying volumes I read this Valentine’s weekend, Hustle by David Tomas Martinez and Two Minutes of Light by Nancy K. Pearson. They are both declarations of the humanity, severity and intelligence in worlds we generally struggle to culturally and physically erase, gangs, violence, illegal drugs, and personality disorders.

In 1994 I was between personas and took a job in Galveston, TX at an alternative school. I did my lesson plans for classes des Refuses taught in T-buildings in what I quickly came to know as G-Town ISD. I had a curriculum, but I was nowhere near prepared. No one was prepared. Thug Life was as ascendant as an epidemic on an island roughly the size of Manhattan. After school the student’s walk home was divided like a layer cake between sets of Bloods and Crips. Depending what you claimed, every three or four blocks you either held up your pants and ran like a bitch, or slow strolled with your cuz, or folkz, or dogz. The school was cobbled together and run by an extraordinary man, Lawrence Thomas. For G’s old, young or wannbe, that school became the safest place on the island. For six and a half school hours there was a truce that included a hot lunch and PE. That’s not to say there wasn’t occasional violence, but it was a mistake or highly ritualized. Even from this vantage it’s impossible to convey what was accepted as day to day reality, for example according to school district policy gunshot wounds were regarded as an unexcused absence. We held class in a collective trauma somewhere between Tupac and Dickens. Lil Twin, Pookie, Pyroo, Big Baby, and Junior were names “the game” gave to children who were murdered, others graduated high school, matriculated to prison, most disappeared. Every day we began again, taking out our journals amid constant violence, drugs and common homework of criminality. I bargained Homer for Master P. Classroom discussions of the battles in The Odyssey, or my overambitious staging of the fights in “Romeo & Juliet” were barely figurative. I was an adult. 1,500 miles away David Tomas Martinez was in training to become a “no limits” soldier in San Diego.

Hustle, (2014, Sarabande Books) is the first volume of poetry by David Tomas Martinez and leans heavily on the unspoken spiritual precepts of growing up within the sphere of gangs, abusive machismo and a culture of abandonment. The poems of Hustle wander the territory of transgression, but not in exploitative dramatics, or as a vernacular persona such as rap boasts, but use that background as a philosophical shorthand of macho noir.

In the eleven sectioned opening poem “Calaveras” (skeletons) the poet focuses lyric gifts on animating the bones of a failed revenge murder. Like any skeleton, it is incomplete, macabrely detailed and still containing some truth for the living.  It investigates the catastrophe within a near catastrophe. Section 7 “Tonight I can write the most violent lines.”  echoes Neruda’s XX of Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair  [Tonight I can write the saddest lines] or “the art of shame so short and healing so long” [Calaveras 7,line 21] [Love is so short, forgetting is so long]. Martinez investigates, as did Neruda, the limitations of the healing power of poetry, but also investigates the poetic capacity to create emotional distance enough for survival. In a 11/10/2010 version of “Calaveras” I found on YouTube [ http://youtu.be/dWT9scHGNhc ], the poem is literally confessional, more directly bound to explain in narrative form the act of not committing murder as an event of redemption, which of course it is.  Many of the poems of this volume struggle within that dialectical distance to remake memory into a more tolerable form of song. As in the elegy “Forgetting Willie James Jones”, “Shed” or the prose poem “Motion and Rest” Mr. Martinez sets in motion a complicated mobile of memory, guilt, nostalgia and escape and allows the reader to watch the interactions shift.

The main commodity of the working classes, Latino, white, male or female is bodies. Bodies are the currency traded, or withheld, the transient repository of skill and injuries. There are few career paths to ascend, there is only physical desire put out in the street, “hustle”. Workers appear, they’re called by gestures, whistles, misnomer, nick names, but rarely they names they’re called at home. In the poem “Innominatus” the poem investigates responses to the sense of cultural anonymity of existing without a linguistic archaeology, of being a body merely deposited in chaos. ”Silence makes us explain ourselves” he writes in a poem wavering between disgust at male dominance and his inability to speak to his mother’s drunken oblivion on the couch.  In Hustle dozens of bodies are chest pounded, beaten, raped, invaded, traded.  However brutish and unrewarding there is always work to do. The dent puller in “Calaveras” is “from my grandfather’s tools”, the gang symbolic “bandana”, “the old man’s/shine box…”,. the tedium of putting in the work of criminal ascendency, the burnt crack pans, and plastic baggies of the dope trade, bodies incarcerated, abused, but mostly in the way…enduring the unenviable fortunes of surviving being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Themed poems like “California Penal Code 266”, pimping, “In Chicano Park” ,gambling, “The Only Mexican” aging, are designed to be muscular and proud panoramas presenting instants of connection and satisfaction surrounded by diminution.  The speaker finds another moment of revelation from Lucy, a woman welder described in “Coveralls”. She rises amid “golden ashes/ dropping from/ a chariot/ of rusted pipe/ and planks.” The poet begins the long transformation of women as objects into equals.

Hustle’s focus on detail and poetic facility in manipulating its nuance against the daily unspoken expectations of a working life sharpens the edge a poet such as Mr. Martinez. He seems bound to simultaneously respect and be alienated from the physical consequences of the life he describes. This complicated dialectic can be in turns, immediate, sentimental and judgmentally distant from the people and events he chooses as subjects. At the same time he constructs translations of this friction into the ephemeral world of academic poetry. Denial and alienation are cultural and class dilemmas of this style of code switching. The capacity to travel between cultures is not the same as the capacity to participate. There is an ethos of betrayal that pervades the tone of these poems as a nearly nostalgic lingering that is neither memoir nor therapy. In the extended sequence “Forgetting Willie James Jones” a tableaux of murder, assassination, and violation ends with the speaker’s ironic epiphany stopping a rape while having sex. “How strong I felt in 94’, when the most chivalrous//thing I could do was block a door/stop a rape.” The speaker’s moment of heroism, holding back a small mob of rapists, is blurred into self-ironic alienation, a recognition that he’s there, but he doesn’t belong. Mr. Martinez poetry is consciously crafted to depict personal contact within intimate periphery of transgression, while proposing an identity driven by a larger sense of morality than the brute masculinity that has abused him, or the clans that would adopt him so roughly…even academia.  The volume moves its arc through unexpected moments of self-awareness as in “Rebecca’s Use”, “I was twenty-two and no longer news.”. Ultimately discovering the speaker is meant to be Homer, not Odysseus, his mythmaking will be created out of words not flesh.

This poetry chooses to carry the symbolic realities of its traumatic themes like emblematic tattoos it exposes, but refuses to explain. It is both protest and intimacy of violation, both accusatory and celebratory. Like a visit to a VFW where one drinks in the thin careful conversation of living with past trauma as signals of how the evening may disintegrate or progress, reading Hustle, might require a smoke filled hours and a few bottled Buds to fully appreciate the need to repeat these war stories Mr. Martinez choses to carry out of the bar.

Ms. Pearson finds another path down a similarly dangerous, distressing, yet more intimately ephemeral road in Two Minutes of Light. She pursues the merciless lyric of a world of genuine zombies. The volume is narrated by a speaker who uses the flat intonation our time has become familiar with as the voice of dissociative personality.  It is a flat voice attentive to detail and consequence, but without empathy, rather a voice that invokes an ironic, distant self-reference. There are unspoken understandings, too obvious, too tedious to discuss, but like the brutish lives of the workers who fabricate our cell phones they precede every conversation.  This voice allows the poems in Two Minutes of Light to be capable of anything.

The opening poem “Cyclic” shifts from a romanticized scene of family fishing to self-harm with only a stanza break’s pause, “reeling in small loaves/ of sunlight, before winter//I began slicing my wrists like fruit,/ before I spent my Medicaid checks on crack,”. At the end of that jarring stanza calmly returns to “My father baits our hooks, forgetting his own.” Something has been revealed that didn’t name itself, but needed to escape.  The poet in “Shucking “describes loosing teeth in an accident while fishing, but the difference between incident and accident, coincidence and complicity is seldom clean in Ms. Pearson’s volume. “From The Motel-By-Hour” presents a series of vignettes of life as a crack addict that are debasingly confessional, but not contrite. “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” alternates between naturalist diary and recollection of a friend who on a drunken wager has fallen from a statue, become comatose and then removed from life support. The extraordinary “Two Worlds” begins with a historical epigram regarding the reduction of carbon monoxide in English public gas and the reduction of suicides in women and then explores the deadly attraction of leaping from The Golden Gate Bridge.  Through these poems we’re exploring The Myth of Sisyphus without Camus’ philosophical moral assumptions. There seems to be no purposeful act to supersede the dark pulling instinct down the slough of self-destruction.  Near the end of this lyrical fugue on suicide the poet intrudes a declamatory voice asking the rhetorical question “By what small margins do we survive?”  The speaker is only halfway to hell; once again something invisible has happened.

Following with the poem “Every Knee Bends” the speaker then embarks climbing the random toeholds of healing. Poems reflect an upward religious arc as inexplicable as the downward spiral that preceded it. She revisits her past from helpless distance of “My Namesake Is Dying” a poem,  by contrast, affected by an emotional relationship with death, conscience and regret.  Death has become less of a casual traveling co-conspirator and more of a thief. This is followed by a bucolic meditation on loss in “Laws of Gravity”.  The speaker’s redemption is cataloged by a complicated coalescence of repetitions and parallel anniversaries as in the closing of “Chasing After the Wind”, “It is your birthday/ says a word on your palm/ this is living Pile the wood.” or “Lucky Stars” a hymn to survival echoing “Track Star” a poem of disintegration, earlier in the volume. There is a steady stagger to integration. The By-the-Hour Motel, is transposed with hospital stays, “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” is balanced with “My Namesake Is Dying”. The volume continues employing this construct “Shucking” becomes “To a Clam”, “Pomace” reflects the opening “Cyclic”. Two Minutes of Light ends with the expository “Consider the Lilies of the Field” where the poet ambitiously attempts to bring many of the events of the volume a sense of closure in sixteen lines. It achieves something more of a stasis than a proclamation of redemption, or sense of cure.

There are epidemiological estimates that occurrences of dissociative disorders range from 2-10% of the adult population in the US (3-30 million people). As a human phenomenon it surpasses gang activity (an estimated 1-2 million people). It’s nine times more likely to occur in women, while gang activity is nine times more likely to occur in males. In both groups there is an onset in early adolescence and statistically some type of institutional intervention in their early twenties. To put those numbers in perspective Poetry Magazine has a total circulation of 30,000. All of this makes both of these volumes rarified and valuable. They provide a lyric intimacy into experiences that too easily are dismissed to type and cultural marginality.

What salvation frequently means is not arriving, but continuing. In a literary world filled with memoirs about becoming writers, Hustle and Two Minutes of Light present us two volumes of song about constructing personality. Most of us don’t have to think about consciously assembling a personality; we are given one with the same combination of random selection, DNA and environment that buys F-150s or wants us to join games on Facebook.  It was once a common belief, if you turned in your homework, didn’t get arrested, kept tidy and managed credit card debt, you would be allowed to tithe with the majority reality. That majority page writ large is shrinking, but its margins attract astonishing illustrations. Increasingly in our hyper self-reflection the differences between personality difference and disorder, criminality and conviction are blurred. The Harris poll estimated one in five people have a tattoo, Grand Theft Auto series franchise sold over 100 million units for on-line play, and there were nearly three million prescriptions for Abilify or Cymbalta filled in the period between October 2013 and January 2014, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar celebrated 50 years of publication with four new biographies, two films and major retrospectives in both the UK and US. Although Ms. Pearson and M. Martinez are genuinely brave and have endured much on their pilgrimages, wherever they are traveling they will not be traveling alone.

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Literary tourists visit Keats’ Wentworth House, claustrophobically duck turning down the cellar stairwell, peripherally glance out the garden door, or turn up the wooded path towards Hampstead High Street with a sense that the “there” they inhabit isn’t solely the location beneath their feet. They are equivalently bound by gravity and by reckoning fragments of Keats’ poetry; they have entered the experiential realm of poetry. Poetry supposes a geography of context, that there is an antecedent cosmology surrounding the poetic locus a voice both inspired and discovered.  A terrain regardless of how fictive or surreal that will lend sensuality and order to the dynamic progression of thought. It’s a place as real as our childhood home, and like our childhood we are only permitted to understand its old patterns and edges.

“Ever since school and even before

I have run my fingers along

the borders on maps. To look at a river

made of time and water is to see

[Without Steel or Fire]

Leslie Ullman in Progress on the Subject of Immensity develops poems as a poetic event of remaining in the border zone between heightened experiences and formally recognizing that experience. These poems don’t provide a series of loosely related vignettes or variations on a form or voice, but instead the poetic experience itself. Although they are mature poems in her career, she brings an intimate energy of the act of poetry that surpasses the weaker ars poetica common among flailing and fading poets. While these poems aren’t ars poetica, they are committed to exploring what a poem is (or might be) without depending on the intrusions of interpretation or formal closure. They are poeticum actus, acts of poetry. But in tonal sense they inflect the traditional forms of inspiration; they’re voiced from what the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar refers to as Ordinary Time, the day to day, morning and evening of religion, the world that wakes up at dawn and continues on towards dusk.

Ms. Ullman is a founding faculty member of Vermont College of Fine Arts, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas, El Paso after twenty five years in that Bi Lingual Creative Writing Program. This is her fourth volume of poetry. Along with other writers of her generation, she invented the MFA creative writing culture we currently enjoy. When VCFA was initially formed in 1981, there were no more than ten recognized MFA writing programs, now there are well over 400. AWP conventions boast ten to twelve thousand participants.  MFA Instructor has become its own vocation. It allows both student and instructor time to write, at least that was the initial concept.  Unlike the prior Ph.D. in English model, the primary emphasis isn’t to survey literary periods, or reinforcing literary theories by nuance in research stacks. Rather there would be a continuing interchange with professional writers corresponding with other writers of varying stature and fashion. It is a university concept built around apprenticeship instead of adding to the cannon of literary research.

In addition VCFA, as many low residency institutions do, draws from writers with a range of experience broader than academic matriculation. The skill sets of these writers bring are different than an ability to organize and interpret the Cannon of Literature. With due deference to survey research, the skills and curriculum in a Creative Writing MFA are different but equally sophisticated and complex. Literary disciplines might apply a literary criticism to the work of a published writer as if they were present; MFAs must apply them to the writer actually present and at the same time encourage them to continue. It’s both traditionally pedantic and in many ways as intimately demanding as psychological analysis. Imagine a university level course where a student has to be taught to read the text they are writing. Novice writers present a wild abundance of issues that are both writing craft and internal exploration; it’s an easy world to dismiss, but a difficult world in which to maneuver.  That creativity can be taught or fostered is a questionable feat; that it can be quashed is sadly evident in our schoolchildren.

As an academic and teacher of Creative Writing for thirty years Ms. Ullman has intimately overseen the prodigious labor and minor triumphs of this modern scriptorium, as well as a besieged canonical library. She has entered, and worked in the inspired and mundane poetic worlds of thousands of burgeoning poems. On a daily basis she has found poems that were lost, rescued lines from poems that otherwise should be lost, illuminated dreams, loss and ecstasies and converted all that and more into ‘craft’. In her teaching position she has questioned, advised revisions, workshopped, re-revised with extent and deleted versions, assembled, cut, added, acted as midwife or stood by the burial of perhaps 30,000 legitimate poems, none of them her own. She has been relentlessly engaged in exploring the essence and manipulating the form of these poems. This experience I believe is at least tangentially reflected in her own poetry.

Nearly every poet, real or imagined, has had to deal with the awkward compliment of being presented with a sheaf of hand written dreadful poems. Dealing with poor poems was once believed to be like playing with a lower ranked tennis player, it would diminish e quality of one’s own game. That may not be the circumstance of the poems currently incubating in MFA programs. Although poetry publishing and national sales flirt with extinction, small publications and electronic poetry are flourishing. There are unprecedented numbers of poems being written.  This poetry represents the Renaissance in American writing that has occurred in the past thirty years. MFA programs have, to a great part, driven this surge to turn 21st century technology to include traditional forms. There may be an easy tendency to dismiss the quality of these mentored poems as callow, narrow, or novice.  If they become poetry of academic substance seems secondary to the size of the enterprise of navigating this swelling sea of poetry; most are generally good, earnest poems searching to move from impetus to form. Compared with the level of conversation in the day to day lounges, tweets, posts, e-mail, groceries, and workplaces these are quite consistently distilled interactions about emotionally important subjects. All of that combined extrapolates into Ms. Ullman embarking on a Darwinian odyssey through an unexplored ocean of green poems.

Teaching is a dangerous sea for a poet to traverse while carrying her own poetry back to Ithaca, but one Ms. Ullman has traversed with an intact tale to tell. The nuanced interrelation of forgetting one poem and becoming present to the next with its emotional center and the psychological archeology of previous versions, within the delicate discipline of the semesters of an MFA program, is a complicated and sensitive discipline. Ms. Ullman’s excursion hasn’t been in a world of Keatsean odes, but in a sudden, unfinished sometimes precarious country. It’s not the perfected forms and rhythms she dances with, rather she is dragged forward, back or diplomatically hobbled trying to anticipate the movement of an unskilled dance partner. But a poor dance is still a dance. An inadequately finished poem is still speaks from human consciousness that deserves attention.  What drives a person to write a poem and the skill to raise it to high art may seem different in the humbling hothouse of literary criticism.  However nearly everyone will attempt to compose a poem, or step to a dance, or launch their voice in song at least once in their life. They’re just different denominations of one eternal currency of consciousness.

Ms. Ullman has labored within that delicate space of human inspiration partially within the academic clerical bond of confession, copyright, and partially conversing within myriad of unconscious spiritualities. Creative Writing is to literature as religion is to theology; it is the writing of the world in which we actually practice. Obviously in poetry writers think about object or ideas that are out of the ordinary, but for Ms. Ullman that randomly changing sacred space is where she has resided and worked throughout most her adult life.

She has returned from this long, literal poetic travel like a pilgrim, chastened, but assured.

Ms. Ullman’s poetic universe in ‘Immensity’ is traversed by a beatific voyeur constantly moving in and out of  the edges of apprehension, the ends of false starts, or interpreting lone awakenings. There’s a world constantly appearing for acknowledgement, or a fragment of identification as it swims past in humane relativity.

“The hole in her mind,

like the mind of everyone,

a necessary blindness

[Hole in the Mind Filling with the Present]

Yet her poems are voices are set amid an austere, yet nearly Romantic Nature as they struggle with motion, with exhaustions, and the consensual betrayals of common relativities to a recognition of a state of consciousness that is both beautiful and intuitively instructive. In Ms. Ullman’s carefully observed lyrics, the reader is seldom left at ease with context or focus of attention, since the poems consciously reflect the space and physics of flux. Rather she presents poem after poem within the naked interior of poetry; religious chamber poetry she refuses to resolve, either for the writer or the reader. These poems feel like a section of Wordsworth’s “Prelude” revised in a poetry workshop and then fractally spun in the ambience of Beethoven’s late quartets.

“of memory that is less event

than atmosphere—the alertness

a pastel wash with bold strokes

of umber when love first arrives,

and the greater alertness—burnished

[Ice Apples]

The poems in Progress on the Subject of Immensity are neither breathless nor ironic; they are mature meditations on the experience and value of consciously refusing to impose formal meanings on heightened events yet simultaneously exploring them as metaphysical and meaningful. Like agnostic hymns constantly moving in restless intimacy, they are deliberate, slow and nearly shimmering, not with the neo-Rilkean delicacy that trembled en vogue through the last two decades of the twentieth century; rather, these poems arrive less fueled with angelic anxiety than a transient paradise grounded in the happenstance of common random activities, rock, rooms, desire, sand, and desert spaces. In “Mind Returns to Find Itself Absent,” for example, the speaker describes the object in her own rooms “as though they were sugar dissolving into the night— /spines of books, lamplight, kilim blues and maroons— / a history that happened to be mine /”. The poems work through the natural world, but only as an existential relativity. As the shapes in a painting calculate their own geometry, here too we operate within angles of constructed, but undeniable detail. Progress of the Subject of Immensity praises both the uncertainty and inexplicable continuity of experience, and venerates the forms of that dialectic. Within those forms is a waiting station for poets, a mental locale of distance that poets use like an umbrella— a heightened, but only slightly removed passage that allows enough narcotic to transform personal event into art. As an experience it is transitory real estate, a temporary sacred space like a playing field or bedroom; it continues in both variation and stasis. The egalitarian value of this poetic impulse is its capacity to translate the divine into the context of the beautiful.

When I was married my father, who was neither a poet nor an academic, composed a prayer for our nondenominational ceremony. He read it just once off of the back of a creased shopping list, and then he refolded it into his pocket. It might have disappeared there (the physical script did) but its benison remained spinning out in memory. Those who were at the service remember the experience with considerable variation of its actual language, but without variation in the transcendent beauty in the experience of its recitation. By a lovely instinct my father (who read some and wrote less) connected his language to a larger language than the one he spoke. In religious writing there is a tendency to treat this type of transcendence as a dynamic of initiation to be followed by interpretation. That the single experience of ecstatic loss of self will give way to some organized notions of understanding the universe as a prophetic part to reveal the whole. Such experiences of inter-relativity are often derided as the sophomore philosophical drunk night of the soul, diminished as jejune, lucky finds, or not yet matured into the experience of dogma. Ms. Ullman’s poems treat that initial disorientation as a fundamental experience.

De-assuming conventional mythology Ms. Ullman presents poems that celebrate inter-connectedness without a specific god, the implication being that the experience of writing a poem and the experience of writing a prayer are consonant. These moments of impulse are driven by similar internal mechanisms of human expression originating in domestic households, not in the Houses of the Holy. In a recent article in “Writers Chronicle” Ms. Ullman discusses the concept of formalization of this experience in terms of the Pythagoeran “golden ratio” [1.618], the Fibonacci sequence and “golden spirals”. She describes with a jeweler’s fascination the structure of an ammonite:

“More exciting to me, however, was my subsequent discovery that an ammonite not only snuggles right up against each side of a golden rectangle, but each new rotation of the spiral, starting at the smallest point of origin, fits inside its own golden rectangle.”

This is an observation she extends to creativity and poetry,

…A swirl of motion that occurs continually within us and outside us, a blueprint that gives rise to, even as it is enlarged by, our instinct to beauty. To contemplate all this is to feel some of the old promise return, that state of the beginner’s mind that allowed many of us, before we got serious, how fine it felt to arrange and rearrange words, to handle and be handled by them, to fashion out our first poems and stories pleasure by pleasure.”

The genesis of a poem comes from an internal interrelation extending instinctively outward like the ammonite, the nautilus, the rhinoceros horn or the sunflower seed pattern. The emotional and energetic vortex of a poem directs the development of a poem with a kind of mystic mechanics that is both irrational and observable.

“yet again, innocence and experience

etching those repetitions that keep us

from becoming, even briefly, truly fallow

as the pull of what could be coming next

keeps undoing the seams between

grey spirit and gravity. In this, our

hibernation is uniquely human.

Few would call it a journey. Few

would say that at such times

we are accompanied, losing a self

in inner rooms that keep expanding.”

[Ice Apples]

Not uncommonly Western poetry structures lyric forms to closure, the worn clicking lid by which a poem transforms experience into an event revised into an elegant revelation. The closing is designed to reform the prior lines into a lyric meant to be understood as surprising the limitation of experience of reading. “They also serve who stand and wait” [John Milton, “On My Blindness”] is the ultimate line in the sonnet that directs its reader into an universe organized, if only by implication of closure, into command and rank. Milton’s sonnet  calculates the experience of blindness and balances loss of potential with Divine obedience. The order provided by the sonnet’s rhyme and structure of the poem similarly demands the reader’s similar subordination to the poem.

Consider this partial list of Ms. Ullman’s final lines:

”so fiercely beneath me.,

how deep it will be until we are in it.,

suspended between us perfectly cherished.,

knowable earth.,

coming back in.,

everywhere at once.,

of possibilities ,

to set on the bright cloth.,

unaccompanied?,

sway all night in their plumage,

in their drinking songs.,

o happy sweat drying under sequins.,

even when standing still.,

at the moment could be more desired.,

A turned field.,

who, in his lifetime, would not see the cathedral finished.,

down further.,

what terms we could find for perfection.,

is altered by our presence in it.,

found themselves alongside me.,

the felt landscape of fresh,

unbidden thought.,

filling my mind. ,

Luminous. ,

Parachute of blue.”.

What the reader may expect by way of an ultimate direction becomes a subtle spiraling vortex of experience, not a summary directive. As readers we are left to observe the pattern and continue it, or like finding a shell on the shore admire it and toss it back to the waves. It is an invitation to be accepted, not a command to follow. In an ontological sense it presents options to the reader in a more feminine anima, not less powerful, rather like an emotion or stellar pattern less directive, but equally powerful in its referents.  The gigantic ammonites that ruled the planet of seas have left us only chelated patterns, not immediate commandments. They all followed the Fibonacci numbers into oblivion 400 million years ago, as, if I read my current cosmologies correctly, will all the galaxies, stars and planets in gorgeous patterns spiral out towards what we assume will be a new form multiplying toward a new nothingness. And at the center of this intergalactic array are Ms. Ullman’s Ice Apples. Simple, brilliant and human and being engaged in the process of defining is nature by creating within its forms…like hurricanes, cacti, or the human ear.

“The Writer’s Chronicle” Vol.46, Number 2, October/November 2013pp.29-36

Leslie Ullman , Progress on the Subject of Immensity  (Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 2013)