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Unread 09-20-2021, 05:12 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Location: England
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I've kept this in my mind for a few days now which hopefully explains the lateness of my comments.
The syntax here seems to me as part of the poem as the language. In poems, the best use of grammar, the best use of, or fracturing of, syntax, occurs not only when a grammatical system is properly followed, but when the substance of the poem applies. Here, the grammar, the em-dashes and the commas, serve more than just "grammar" itself, they serve to open holes in the poem, that represent to me, at least, the holes of memory, the gaping jawlike silences down which a relationship, a face, a year, vanish with astonishing quickness. That ability to evoke silence, present noticeably in other poems of yours I have read, seems to have risen to the fore, here, startlingly.
I've banged on about your phrasing before. Maybe it's because in my own work, I value phrasing so greatly, that "people" have remarked it is both a strength and a weakness, and therefore maybe I am attracted to your poems, to this poem, in a similar way that I am attracted to Emily Dickinson's work, because phrasing here is so vitally distinctive: so vitally alive; and also because your phrasing is not just description, but becomes the very fabric of the emotion of your subject -- as well as evocating memory's twisting, snake-like corners, many of them, when they need to, cut, too.

I'm going to go through this line by line.


(which cd be a title. or not)
I think the title should be something very like but not quite "things the mind tries to grasp", but something much more like that than "album"


ALBUM

A chink from the past opens its eye.
I envy your opening. All the genius rests in "chink" made animate.
Did it rain? The door slam? Was it autumn, a fury wind?
Do you think that losing the capital letters after each question mark would create the sense of a more urgent stream of questioning? Would you be aiming for urgency, there?

Peculiar, the flourish of an out-of-cycle fallow year
This reads as overly stuffed. But I have tried removing either "out-of-cycle" or "fallow" and I find the loss weakening.
weaving drunk through the garden. In your armchair,
our hopeful dog. And your voice,
"hopeful dog" is melancholically very fine.
that goose-bumped my nape, that I know
"goose-bumped my nape" makes from its sound an effect of goose-bumping.
I'd glued to memory – where? –

Did you know that the mantel-clock could tak-tak-tak
I don't see why you shouldn't have "tick" instead.
into corners, cram beneath the kitchen table, clamp itself
around too much food in the pot –
I wonder if you should have silence afixed to that line, so you can end the stanza on silence: the following white, a visual imitation.

Silence, imposed: the hue of tarnish. A concept glossed
in conversation tendrils in ways we did not foresee:
I can see how others find this strained, a little too strange to convince. But "tendrils" has that ring of strange unpleasantness that I believe the poem wishes to demonstrate. In many ways, "tendrils" seems rightful to the poem.

unmussed sheets; chores –
now unshared, become endless; lost sox –
I do not understand the spelling of socks as sox, either. Is it a pun on the Internet love term "soxoxox"? In any case, I'm left more confused than stimulated.
no more: they remain bolled in their wooden box;
and emailers, well-wishing, expecting thanks – remind me...?
Another storm hits my cheeks.



.
I think the poem would benefit greatly if the last line were cut entirely, and your penultimate line were to be your ending. That seems much, much better option. I find the current ending rather clichéd, melodramatic, and obvious.

It should, from the critique, go without saying that I think this poem is very alive.

Hope this helps.
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