Sunday, July 11, 2010

High Water Mark by David Shumate

High Water Mark by David Shumate is a good book to read the day after a trip to an awesome bookstore. Famous writers in here, Neruda, Lorca, Ferlinghetti, etc. wordspeople. This thing is so beautiful, I didn't even have the guts to pen it up, place it delicately back on the shelf. No, but I earmarked (or is it rabbit-eared or dog-eared? I don't know really) many many pages, like 13 poems. A problem arises with this type of record keeping: what if back to back poems are AWESOME? Well, I guess I have to choose. And choose, I did. This one or that one, always choose the one that makes you shout, "HEY COME READ THIS."

This is a good book to read before spending 6 hours making a bike cart with your father-in-law, who just so happens to rule at things like that. David Shumate, like my father-in-law with building stuff, knows what he is doing with prose poems. In less then a page, he welds together words, images, feelings, phrases, fragments in a way that is prose-poem-perfect. I think prose poems are fast things and Shumate runs fast here. He starts and finishes and you are like "Wait, what about Ferlinghetti's ears?"

Here, try it out (from, you guessed it, "Ferlinghetti's Ears"):
His are broad ears with one too many curves. Like conches from the shores of Indonesia. Smooth. Elongated. Worn with time. Spiraling toward some center. A cave or catacomb where a colony of monks write it all down and file it away. He has a collection of these ears. He pins them to the wall in the room where his cat and his typewriter sleep. In the morning he selects a pair, guided by the barometric pressure or the alighnment of hte stars or a case of persistent indigestion. Sure, everything is quick jabs, but the jabs come from the graceful body.

This is a good book to read in the morning before you watch Man On Wire late in the evening with a good friend and your wife. Everything is on a balance for a half page, 3/4 a page, never a poem over a page. The poems just trapeze along and before you know it you've been on this tight rope for 45 minutes, like Phillippe. You go from Ferlinghetti's many and wonderful ears to a household of Buddhas to a man practicing in his bomb shelter, like birds and gusts of winds passing you by. WHAT A RUSH, you think, WHAT AN ACT. David Shumate is a good bookstore, a helpful father-in-law, an artistic crimimal at the top of the world.

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