Emily as an Attempt at Gun Control #17

Poetry
Darren C. Demaree


Photo Credit: Rémy Saglier/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Under her bones
& in the middle
of making love

to me with her lithe
body, I am confronted
by the idea,

that though I am
experiencing pleasure,
it’s pleasure enhanced

by the safety
of her body’s cover.
There is no clean shot

at anything other
than my tensing limbs
when Emily is on top.

pencilDarren C. Demaree is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. Email: darrencdemaree[at]yahoo.com

Not for Art Nor Prayer by Darren C. Demaree

Candle-Ends: Reviews
Shelley Carpenter


carpenter

Not For Art Nor Prayer by Darren C. Demaree

I had the pleasure of reviewing a second and recent collection of Darren Demaree’s poetry titled, Not For Art Nor Prayer (8th House Publishing, 2015). The poems are structured in four categories with the first two parts being an existential and eclectic mix of adorations and adulations addressed to a milieu of real people on various subjects. They are followed by the Wednesday Morning numbered poems created on or about that particular day of the week and the collection concludes with the eternal odes to Emily that also appear in different forms in other collections by Demaree.

The “Adorations” were my favorite. The titles were numbered and varied. And I liked how they were tributes to friends, acquaintances and strangers. I especially like the poems addressed to strangers. I felt a sort of kinship with the poet as he described common people doing common things that most people can relate to doing or watching in progress—voyeurism, more or less. I admit it: I’m a people watcher. Here’s one I liked. I think I might have been there.

Adoration #90

for the manager at the Krogers

Yes, I saw, in fact I read it
out-loud to my daughter that we
we’re not supposed to ride inside

the cart, but with my son sitting
under buckle, we had no choice,
but to chance that she might, at some

point, stand up to reach for pancake
mix. The running and singing was
my fault. We were having such fun.

Other poems are not such visual eye-candy to me. Some I have no clue what they are about, but I like just the same. I like Demaree’s word choice and I like how the choices are gradients, words that belong on the far side of their spectrum of their meaning or that they are in an original, intriguing context such as the many comparisons and metaphors he creates. I’m no poet, but I know what I like. Here’s one with dueling images and sounds.

Water Always Leaves the Knife

For Tuscaloosa

How the chip
& hammer,
so paused in both,

that we live with the carry
& away
of that sun sum

of what fingers do
when it’s char
or the painted red faces

of about, of about
the town. Rats,
lost scorpions,

the full ribs
of such beauty
is blood, is fat, is ship.

I wrote in my annotation that I had no idea what this poem was about. It was like a secret. And I don’t think I’m far from the truth. I had the pleasure of meeting Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky a few summers back at Boston University’s Favorite Poem Project. I recall Pinsky reminding the audience that poetry is meant to be spoken. He also said in so many words that you do not have to understand the poem to appreciate it. You don’t have to take it apart to enjoy its essence. (And yes. I shared a favorite poem.)

Here’s another of Demaree’s poems I especially like:

Emily as the Cicada’s Song Crests

That sound, that was never there
before has now always been there
& if that sound is about to fade,
to grind deeper into the ground
of my subconscious, to the place
where I’ve left my almost children
& my almost arrests, the littered
moments where I was almost
a monster, will I be able to remember
the lovely things Emily said to me,
when we had to be louder than
a million magic bugs, singing their
only song, without waver? I will
know Emily as the woman next
to me, and I will love her for that.

I would have to literally dissect the poem to say why exactly I liked it aside from its natural imagery. Keeping with Mr. Pinsky’s philosophy, I think that to do so would be like pulling the wings off a butterfly to see how it flies. Instead, I will say that I like the way the words in the poem sound when I read the poem aloud, their alliteration and consonance sounds, how they float in the air for a moment, stirring and wonderful as the words take form and meaning deep inside me. Vocal-candy.

Pinsky in his book The Sounds of Poetry also discusses the idea of “the human body as the medium of poetry … how the reader’s breath and hearing embody the poet’s words,” as well as the idea that poetry is the keeper of memory, that it is an immortal medium for expressing ideas and feelings swiftly and sensuously, and most profoundly meant to be shared with the deceased as well as future generations. It gives me the chills. Demaree’s poems contain this ideology in their lovely and sensuous details. The subjects are an organic blending of bodies and images from nature and beyond, full of desire and soul. Demaree creates infinite worlds visually and vocally using his art and the human breath as his medium.

*

Darren C. Demaree is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Nineteen Steps Between Us (After the Pause Press, 2016). Many of the poems have appeared in Toasted Cheese and numerous journals and magazines. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

pencilShelley Carpenter is TC’s Reviews Editor. Email: harpspeed[at]toasted-cheese.com

Temporary Champions by Darren C. Demaree

Candle-Ends: Reviews
Salvatore Marici


Temporary Champions by Darren C. Demaree

Temporary Champions by Darren C. Demaree

Darren Demaree, a recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations, arranged the poems in Temporary Champions (Main Street Rag, 2014) like a DNA molecule. The book centers on a historic boxing match. One side is the action in the ring and the other side is the crowd linked with other poems about the boxers’ lives, their families and a referee. This book is tension; the links tug, push the two spiraled strands.

At the fourth poem, “Two Right Hands His Head Could Not Bear,” I knew the boxer Kim was hurt:

the third blow
the kick back

of the skull
to the canvas
that took the pain

away from Kim,
took the light
from his lungs

but I sensed that I was missing needed knowledge so I went to Wikipedia. The boxing match that reduced the maximum rounds from 15 to 12 was Demaree’s muse for this book. The match was in 1982 between Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Duk Koo Kim. Mancini is from Ohio, his father was a top-ranked contender boxer and Kim lived in poverty in South Korea. Mancini won nineteen seconds into the fourteenth round. Mancini suffered a torn left ear, a puffed left eye, and his left hand swelled to twice its size. Kim died from head injuries four days later. Mancini went to South Korea for the funeral and fell into a depression. Kim’s mother and the referee committed suicide. After I learned about this match, I returned to the poems with a greater understanding of the whole.

The lyrical nature of the poems, because they are not a straight storyline or narrative, I see as a metaphor of the continuous beating the fighters give and take in a match. The poems between the “round poems” and “crowd poems” I call the one-minute breaks. These poems show Kim’s poverty in South Korea, Mancini’s life in Ohio, the fighters’ families’ hopes, and what lures the crowd to watch fights. There is even a touch of boxing mythology in the poem “Past The Teeth”:

If the fighter was a sparrow
& the lord of fighters was creating
sparrows in his own image

One other note, Demaree wrote “the crowd” poems in a block prose format. I assume he used that visual format to show the crowd’s impenetrable feelings.

Demaree blends statements into images. Poetry should show and not tell. However, his telling usually was the right proportion with showing and merged them into these:

  • The real fight is to remove / the boxing gloves from the bodies / without anyone knowing they were / used to cover the frightened paws / of a champion (“You Can’t Have More”)
  • demanding that his face be / made out of paper mache. (“The Crowd #1”)
  • it takes / hours for a good body / to tire, to become wispy, / crushable. Say his head / was a berry. (“Say It’s a Red Berry”)
  • you can watch their aged / shoulders mimic the fighters (“The Crowd #18”)

Demaree intertwines boxers as humans, their wants and the match laced with the sport’s brutality. In the poem “How Vital Sport?” he writes, “men / led around like horses, / beaten like horses.” He starts the spiral ladder at the beginning with the title of the book Temporary Champions and the first poem titled “Round 1”:

whose name will vanish
the same as moisture, in the air,
not in flight, not in direction.

Most poems work on their own, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The 72 poems on 73 pages is a poetic boxing epic. On HBO and ESPN we see many like Kim from developing countries in rings. Now, like in 1982, the crowd cheers when a boxer punches his opponent’s face into a berry. We hope that today the referee, ringside doctor, or the loser’s manager will stop the fight. This crafted poetry collection shows us why they should.

*

Darren C. Demaree is the author of As We Refer to Our Bodies (8th House, 2013), Temporary Champions (Main Street Rag, 2014), The Pony Governor (2015, After the Pause Press) and Not For Art Nor Prayer (8th House, 2015).  He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

pencilSalvatore Marici is an author of two poetry books. The first was a chapbook titled Mortals, Nature, and their Spirits (Ice Cube Press, 2012). His writing has appeared in several anthologies, magazines and journals including Toasted Cheese. He was the 2010 Midwest Writing Center’s poet-in-residence. He has won and placed in several poetry contests. Marici served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and he is a civil servant retiree, who worked for the Army, mainly with the job title Agronomist. At both jobs, he managed natural resources. You can follow his poetry events at salmarici.myicourse.com and on Facebook.

As We Refer to Our Bodies by Darren C. Demaree

Candle-Ends: Reviews
Shelley Carpenter


carpenterAs We Refer to Our Bodies (8th House Publishing, 2013) is a collection of poems by Darren C. Demaree, a recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations. Demaree’s poems traverse human spaces and natural places in the poet’s world—reminiscent of the metaphysical poets. Each poem is an elegy to the tangible and untouchable. Images of animals, people, and rural life are layered within a kaleidoscopic context of emotion and existentialism as the poet contemplates the big questions with swirling thoughts that reach beyond the unassailable boundaries of ocean, sky and earth.

First, they found me,

then it was proven

that I wasn’t there.
I was on the land,

then I was under
the thinnest ocean,

digging back & back
trying to outflank

the processional.

— Ohios, p. 37

The collection is organized in three sections: Directions for Leaving, Ohios, and Black & White Pictures. It is interesting that many of the poems have no titles. Is there more meaning in their absence? Does their absence relate something else, a seamless, unspeakable thought to ponder and track along the poems lines and borders?

There is lovely allusion and repetition of word. The frequent usage of the ampersand is also intriguing, perhaps suggestive of a backward glancing speaker?

                            … She’ll
dream of darkened roses
& their profound thorns.
She’ll dream shining lines
with no context & no end.
She’ll dream in orange
& mango & her lips will
quiver without knowing why.

— Black & White Pictures, p. 66

Burning is another theme that flows throughout the collection along with a strong sense of place, a searing passion for life and love and the land.

Finally, sex like a burned
corn field, raw & rough
& in the dirt, a story peppered
with the word “soiled.”

— Ohios, p. 19

The subjects of the poems are personified in gorgeous figurative language and loving metaphor. Bodies change shape and transform to and from ordinary objects, organic and manufactured, that represent more—a way of life or perhaps a longing for something or someone, and with it a sense that the poet may be lost in his own love and desire—as seen in the Emily poems.

Not as a bee, so close
to the ground, so nested
in the one, colored hive;

my love is a lunatic
with wings, a dynamo
in reds, in oranges,

— “Emily as Thousands of Colliding Butterflies” (p. 46)

There is also an ethereal feature to many of Demaree’s poems. A lingering sense like one has been traveling far in their dream. And then waking up and not fully remembering one’s dream but recalling only fragments, yet knowing the full feeling of the dream and what it meant to be in the dream: so poignant—so vivid—so alive.

There was sky where the stars had died
& each time we replaced one

the heat of falling rock would consume
us. I don’t remember the colors.
I don’t remember the weight of it.
I remember the burning, mostly.

— “Ways You Can Lose Your Heart #16” (p. 12)

Demaree’s reach stretches across the boundaries of the human heart, delving into its many fissures and secret chambers, bubbling up with sentiment and ferocity that disturbs.

Something opened its eyes when
you first did, nestled itself
next to you, in your crib & for

the rest of time will be nose-
to-nose with you, never yielding.

—Ohios, p. 23

As We Refer to Our Bodies is a stirring collection of poems that travels along the American landscape and taps the many veins of the human experience with a heroic passion and an honesty that is brutally eloquent and soulful.

*

Darren C. Demaree lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. He is the recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations and a Best of the Net nomination. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals including Toasted Cheese. He is the author of As We Refer to Our Bodies (8th House, 2013), Temporary Champions (Main Street Rag, 2014), and Not For Art Nor Prayer (8th House, 2015). Temporary Champions is a collection of poems about the 1982 title fight between Ray Mancini and Duk Koo Kim. You can find links to more of Darren’s work on his blog and at Twitter: @d_c_demaree.

pencilShelley Carpenter is TC’s Reviews Editor. Email: harpspeed[at]toasted-cheese.com

Emily as Written by Amanda Shires

Poetry
Darren C. Demaree


Mourning Doves
Photo Credit: Ken Slade

Intactness can be flight
& intactness is the opposite
of the blues, intactness

& you, Emily, that is more
cure than any ill-spirit that can
ever find me. If we are scathed

it can only be from each other.
If we are together, mudded,
scathed with wet earth

& still laughing? That is holy.
That is the sound of two voices
raised to be blessed by doves.

pencil

Darren C. Demaree‘s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Carolina Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Cottonwood, The Tribeca Poetry Review, and Whiskey Island. He is the author of As We Refer To Our Bodies (2013) and Not For Art Nor Prayer (2014), both are due out from 8th House Publishing House. He is the recipient of two Pushcart Prize nominations. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. Email: darrencdemaree[at]yahoo.com

Emily as a Tire’s Hot Squeal

Poetry
Darren C. Demaree


Burn Rubber
Photo Credit: K.G. Hawes

Capstone of my desire,
I am the road for Emily
& have positioned

my body as such, to be torn
up on the occasion
she has the energy,

or the bravado to do so.
No finery, I am left lonely
as a road when she doesn’t.

pencil

Darren C. Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear, in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Carolina Review, Meridian, Grain, Cottonwood, The Tribeca Poetry Review, and Whiskey Island. Recently, Freshwater Poetry Journal and Bluestem have each nominated him for a Pushcart Prize. His first collection, As We Refer To Our Bodies, is coming out this fall from 8th House Publishing House.

He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and daughter. He has finished his Master’s work in Creative Writing at Miami University in Southwestern Ohio. Email: darrencdemaree[at]yahoo.com