Monday 16 May 2016

THREE POEMS by Aaron Daigle


Come with your leaves, my brother,
taste bitter sea. Your words heavy
            as Bibles in my stomach.

Sunset bisects forest
like a child arranging a plate:
root-dark vegetables, meat marinated in day.

A print in your room
flirts with the forms: calligraphy,
a blush of ink, stoking
core enough to feel something

missing: hang short of climax.
We'll lie like Elijah part to part,
bodies moulding sand.

There is so much earth beneath us.

7 ways to look at the night sky when hungry

1. Sunset roasting rare
to charred, topped with onions.

2. Earth's salad dressing,
flecks of stars in oily space.
Goes down smoother that way.

3. Dark chocolate 
studded with macadamias.

4. Eat the moon. It's a wafer
that'll grow back.

5. Cream-cloud Venus,
hung out as a bug zapper,
reminds us not to leave
the oven on.

6. Clouds, marble swirl of bundt cake:
bringing to mind the Higgs potential,
when we first gained weight.
Lovely to have, isn't it?

7. Orbits stirred batter.
Fired up the kiln:
hard-crust planets
with moist hearts.
Mould grew soon.

Small Towns

Names glimpsed in passing, jade signs
half-eaten by leaves. Worn pavement
where roads turn sharp:
two ruts.

Here, gardens grow
huddled behind fences. Sunlight dusts
shoulders. His upturned hand.
They make the best preserves,
shuttered in dark mahogany.

No phonebooks.
Scraps of paper tacked to corkboard:
inked over years.
None crossed out.

Earth, peat-moist: smears
on the palm
of the hand.
Names, too, are enclosed.

Aaron Daigle | Japan |  2016

REVIEW of Michael e. Casteels (Apt. 9)

On Michael e. Casteels’s solar-powered light bulb and the lake’s achy tooth
                                                             Ellie Hastings

In an Apt. 9 Press chapbook of concrete poems - beautifully printed, created with a typewriter and ample white space, Michael e. Casteels has unfolded a landscape. Solar-powered light bulb and the lake’s achy tooth has weight and density with an economy of words. With the use of brackets and slashes, Casteels packs in possibility with minimalism. See for example the title “a (d)r(i/a)ft,” where in a single line he gives the reader four possible words. Casteels’s economized style is doable because of his titles, which are often longer than the poems themselves, and act as their own lines and signifier. This is seen in “moon poem 2” where the poem’s body is simply “(n/l)ight.”
Casteels can also be blatantly literal, but there is something beautiful and profound in this. In “low moon with owl” he physically intersects the “owl” with “moon,” also forming the word “low.” This technique perhaps defamiliarizes the word; Casteels turns word into object, and the page becomes his canvas, typography his brushstrokes.
            The typography is then visually informing. See “night scene” and “night scene 2” where he creates a landscape of an owl and moon simply with the placement of three letters; and the image of (perhaps) a howling wolf, with the placement of four letters. Casteels is introspective and musing with his type. He manages to turn a question mark into a fishhook, a period into a freckle, and sketches the sound of water with the letter ‘o.’ In “where the loon was” Casteels creates an image of a loon taking flight in water, leaving only ripples with the use of brackets; his punctuation becomes an objects with a new, unconventional visual purpose. The author defamiliarizes the word, he also defamiliarizes typography itself. Though this technique may seem inane and lacking substance, these poems work for the chapbook as a whole, building on Casteels’s landscape, reflective and delicate.
            In his economy, Casteels is subtly dynamic in his creation. His poems build on themselves, forcing his audience to make connections. See “brushing the dog” which becomes “birds/build/nests.” The reader is forced to follow this image through, and assemble their own scene. And this is perhaps one of Casteels best skills – creating a landscape out of nothing, forcing readers to enter a landscape that only exists in their mind. Casteels is also generous in his white space. Though some might find the use of his negative space overwhelming, Casteels moulds his page with attention to detail; the space allows for awareness of the word as Casteels picks away at sound, shape, and function. What is really beautiful about this chapbook is its elegance in form and the type’s seduction of white space.

Solar-powered light bulb and the lake’s achy tooth is a gentle piece of art. Casteels is unique in his ability to form a minimalist landscape with intense effect. Placid and reflective, Casteels brings a new awareness to the art of type and the word, making this Apt. 9 Press chapbook well worth the exploration.