Friday, January 10, 2020

David Zieroth’s the bridge from day to night

Elsewhere I’ve noted that many of our elder poets resemble boxers who’ve stayed on for one (or more than one) fight too many. The poems keep on a-comin’, but their punches lack strength and accuracy. David Zieroth – a poet who’s written some charming, quirky fantasies and honest anecdotes encapsulating some fine and subtle spiritual dimensions in minute-to-minute mundane action – has recently put forth the bridge from day to night, and it’s a sad book to contemplate for its gloomy self-regard. This is especially troubling since the tone is set against the beauty of Vancouver’s North Shore, emphasizing the speaker’s uneasiness with chaos and mutability. This results in one of any poet’s great sins – retreat from engagement with the sensed world. Zieroth often shows his impatience with the outside world by avoiding it altogether, acting instead as caught fly in a weak cauchemar-web. “first thought” quickly devolves to “all of my thoughts” to “the many limbs of the forest” to “each day the thoughts erect a wall/and tell me not to look/back into the tangled garden”.

Five poems in a row, near the volume’s close, are particularly lugubrious. “grief” details, clinically, the emotion’s effect on the body: “muscles in our organs/draw away from contact with skin/and contract so blood drains/out of toes and fingers foreign/in the face of sorrow”. The language, here, is as dead as the bodily processes it describes. “grief” concludes with, “our wonderer worries that nothing/better might ever be”. I had the same thought about this collection at around page 21.

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