Thursday, June 13, 2013

milk tooth bane bone - Daniela Elza

Today's book of poetry:  milk tooth bane bone.  Daniela Elza.  Leaf Press.  Lantzville, British Columbia.  2013.

Daniela Elza's second book of poetry milk tooth bane bone is populated with poems that are so sparse  that on first glance you might think there is nothing really there.  On a closer inspection, say a quick running read over, it reads like clever haiku.

When you finally give this work the time and energy it deserves you discover that these carefully crafted minimalist poems have everything you might need, including an element of surprise.


"The World is a semantic sign
that cannot be pronounced."
           -Lyubomir Levchev

today     a crow             flies up
                              a mussel in its beak.

                                          drops it.

                                          I pick up a word.

                                         drop it.

                              and again

             to see it


                            we look                    at each other
sideways              crow & I

for an instant        agree--                                   this kind of
                            sustenance is                                     miserable.

               yet                                         with unexpected

we resume                         our efforts.


These poems ruminate about family and the natural world using a crow as a symbol, a key to Elza's own mythology.

     in the pines
                   on lampposts

     on wires.
                  cawing me
                                                                out of my skin.
     so close
                  I look them
                                                                           in the eye

     down by                the grates                         the garbage.

     on the edge of the water
                                                               they shine
                                           a whole murder of them.

     so blue-black    you would                think

                                           they are standing               in rain.

     picking thoughts                  clean.


This crow is a catch-all figure, a utilitarian tool that Daniela Elza wields like a Maestro with a baton, perfect pitch, and always on time.

Elza's milk tooth bane bone is almost elemental in its' purity.  You hardly notice, at first, that these apparently fragmentary passages read with a clear narrative, insight and enlightening conclusions.

By the time I neared the last passages I was utterly hooked.

     there are no recipes       for getting to
                                                       know you.

     fascination aside:
                                          today    every sound
     that comes out of you
                                          grates    on my ear.

     I try to ignore you                      better.

                                 unwilling to listen
                                                                 I do.

     I want to be
                                             as you
                                                          in the rain.

                                 as you
                                                          in the city.

                                 as you

                                                 in the landscape.

     the light in your eyes
                                 has taken years
                                                              to reach me


Ted Hughes had Crow, I've often had to eat crow, Daniela Elza has widened the canon with her own mythical beast.  A more human crow would be awfully hard to find.  Elza's milk tooth bane bone is a very good read for your head and your heart.

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