Somewhere in my search beyond a life out of a tiresome media career, I recently discovered the “819” section of my local library. This section includes an assortment of small press poetry that has captured my imagination in it’s exploration of not only the human condition but also the world in general. Diana Hartog’s Ink Monkey is one such example from that section.
The Link between Reader and Writer (page 29)
Perhaps you’re sitting up in bed, and have tilted
the light to the page so as not to disturb lying beside you
Or listening for the children’s squeals from the
upstairs tub, you have gone to kneel
and with a towel blot their sturdy little bodies
-leaving the face down on the couch.
Outside in the random silence, the desert wind
is jangling against the flagpole
some metal thing.
Hartog’s words may seem simple and the subject of her poems a bit off beat, but upon second and third readings of her works, one realizes the profound observations she is making about society and the world we all inhabit.
Nightclass – Page 25
The Mad Professor shouts, taps the blackboard with a stick
and paces to explain the great mating and uncoupling
of the planets: the retrograde dance, the southern reeling
of those ideas known as stars.
He cranks the system by hand
and the painted tin globes of Mercury & Venus & Mars
-stiff-armed on wires –
revolve by jerks around a Sun with the rind of a grapefruit,
the sundry moons (some as tiny as peas) racing dizzily,
as the homeless of an L.A. alley lie stretched full-length
on broken sofas in the street: smoking, gazing up through a blur
of smog, at the flickering light of past mistakes
they can now pinpoint.
Jellyfish may seem to be insignificant to many of us, yet Hartog has a whole section describing their movements and their appearances called Jellyfish Suite.
Little Jerks (page 54)
The erratic young
-moon jellies in miniature, countless air-bubbles, fringed – contract in sneezes ah-choo ah-choo as they pulse in frantic jerks past full-blown Aurelia labita and sometime get in the way: Bump
the scalloped hem
of a bell that’s begun to expand in vol-
uptuous slow motion . . . . . . Ah-… …. AH –
Hartog also gives her views on a collection of woodblock prints made by the 19 C Japanese master Utagawa Hiroshige. Her views on The Tokaido Road prints are fascinating.
Station 13 – Numazu
Forest of a Thousand Pines (Page 76)
From the Forest of a Thousand Pines and its deep silence, I emerged at dusk, having followed the voices of children gathering cones into the baskets.
There was a still time: the darkening sea stretched far to the line of a horizon as yet unbroken by the special moon. The waters deceptively calm, as if this were any night. Against my better judgement I sought out the hut of a local poet. We had met once before, in Edo, but holding differing views. Finally the way was pointed through a maze of alleys.
I found him shivering but in high spirits, cowled in a blanket, revising his poems. -one of which, he claimed, is to be anthologized.
Worried about the moon, I soon left.
I am not sure if I have the disciplinary tools to talk about poetry but I do love my explorations into the “819” section of the library. And if there are more books like Diana Hartog’s Ink Monkey, I will soon return.