So now I have to go searching for Antony Di Nardo's other 2010 book, Soul on Standby (Exile Editions), because I've just finished Di Nardo's Alien, Correspondent and it is simply great.
"Every note is equal"
-Vince Gill (2008 Grammy winner)
I'm home on a Monday night in the Middle East
watching the Grammys on TV, the fiftieth
I keep being reminded. Oh anniversaries, I think,
aren't they wonderful, and I turn to tell someone
but no one is with me,
just a leader of Hamas for a moment on a different
channel, and when I return to the blur of lights, I hear
a pitch of harmonies, counterparts, rips, raps, bass lines,
rockin' riffs (I really like those), and the screen metastasizes
into a sudden music, all kinds of it, overwhelming really
with that standard assortment of cheers from the audience
like bees in full armor about to burst out of the hive,
so I say to myself, anniversaries, aren't they all so wonderful,
which is when I sorely wish I had a 54-inch plasma
surround-sound TV system to really bring to life
another Monday night at home alone in the Middle East
celebrating peace and love the Grammy way
with words and music by those vicariously beautiful
people who give standing ovations to Ringo Starr and to all
their gifted friends for the best single of the year,
every year, but it takes a country-western singer, the sugar twang
sweet on his lips, to say that music is where democracy lives.
And the way he means it, the bees buzzing worldwide,
I really miss not having a bigger TV screen.
There are so many excellent poems in this volume it was embarrassing. Antony Di Nardo should be a name we all know. The voice in these poems is steady, reassuring and confident.
From bus windows I peer
like a peeping Tom into people's homes
and find the common blue glow of the six o'clock news.
The mountain sun I have just seen set has set the bus on fire
and cameras are clicking by the dozen against the windows.
There is a palm tree that will appear in my snap,
but not these faces.
We descend a curving, perilous dirt road,
the bus I know prefers the word, precipitous,
swallowing hard like a throat straight and neat
into the very belly of the village at the foot of this valley.
We will be consumed.
All signs blur past us:
the sign of the cross,
the invocation of dead mothers,
the stop sign at the crossroads.
If we make it down alive, dear God,
I pray from this moment on I will pay particular attention
to sunsets. I swear to be home by the calendar moons. I will count
my change. I will lose track of time, forget
the war that is racing, the people back at home, the money I owe,
the faces on the walls of my hotel room.
I will buy sunblock and drink rum.
I swear to be a better tourist.
I will note the shells on the beach, imitate the birds overhead.
I will make plans to return and contemplate this life as another life.
I swear that I will one day live in sunglasses.
I want to hold the hands, dear God, of my unborn children.
Many of the poems in this collections deal with the misfortunes of Beirut, but good poetry is universal and Di Nardo makes the reader feel as though Beirut were something tangible, felt under your fingernails. These poems read like a trail of wise crumbs through difficult terrain.
Antony Di Nardo is an accomplished poet, his love poem Arabian Nights is so crystal clear cut and fine, yet none of the soft edge has been removed. These poems exceed my ability to do them justice. Di Nardo's poems are an easy read, not because it is easy material or that he is casual about his craft - but these poems are an easy read because they have been crafted with precision.
This should be the next book of poetry you read.