Sunday, February 21, 2010


First off, a big thank you to Zach Wells for recommending this book to me. Perhaps he remembered that I'd earlier mentioned how much I appreciated Tony Harrison's poems about the Brit's father. Like Harrison's bravely searching poems, Coles' 1991 letter to his dead father treats their estranging differences with honesty, anguished memory, shifting mood, and persistent love. The dream metaphor of the titular image is haunting and troubling, its "ash-pale/feathers and ashen, downy breast/picking its way stiffly". The tone in Little Bird is intimate yet universal, and the constant, sad plea for communication is moving not only as addressed to his imagined father, but also to himself and to the reader(s). A few more amazing lines: "father --//a curious thing. Since/you died, all/the faces you ever/wore for me//have changed."; "So watching your mouth/move this way//is odd, guessing how/its trying to say/its lost poems."

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