Mel Ankh builds votives for a living. These votives are unusual in that they’re handmade. Using ready pieces of nonflammable refuse.
Glass pieces slide in, metal soldered, an occasional box of treated hardwood. It’s all Green, to him. Boxes mostly are what he can think of to make. Occasionally a rusty round from a car engine, the odd diagonal fitting together of. These sell best in summer, when folks place them on their patios, to keep citronella or night light candles out of the wind.
Green aside, it’s the strangeness of each votive, catching buyers’ myriad brains. Each neuron in each of their heads connected to similar neurons for sight yet unfamiliar neurons for taste. Ugly candleboxes sell better near the winter holidays, he’s noticed. He is shy about figuring out why. A lone most days in the shop. His cramped office filled with receipts, books, hastily drawn diagrams for the gov’t, should it request to see. His income. A paltry figure.
Off-season he lets go the rented table in the park. Then it’s too high of a price to offset sales. The disability checks cover minimalist vacations. Seeking more materials wherever. His shop is always low in materials fall, spring. A paying repeat customer or bum or stranger may donate on Tuesdays.
© 2009 James Beach
*A reckless poet, A.D.P. befriended me on the street and then dumped his peculiar writings in my lap, as if in anticipation of the seminal issue of my magazine, Wood Coin. I lost touch with him but kept publishing his work until I heard he overdosed on heroin, at which point I published the Last Post from his MySpace page, as an impenetrable objet d’art… What else could I do? I missed him. The inspiration for this “Votiving” is his piece “Hibernation” [http://www.woodcoin.net/wssi.xeuszenon.html], which appeared in Wood Coin around the time of his death in 2009.
James Beach’s credits include Antique Children Literary Arts, Blue Monday Review, Counterexample Poetics, Danse Macabre Magazine, The Exhibit Literary, Mad Hatters’ Review, Paraphilia Magazine, Smokebox Commentary, Warhol Stars UK, Wood Coin Magazine, and others.
Available online here: http://www.blackwidowpress.com/main.php (Amazon too).
An episodic epic. A chain of odes to the process of transformation. Incantations meant to summon no gods, but only energies. Poems masquerading as electron-swarms. Heller Levinson’s Wrack Lariat is all of these things and more. It is safe to say that no other poet writes like Levinson. I have been reading his words for the better part of a decade and they have always left me thrilled and baffled. They have instilled in me what Freud long ago called the unheimlich, that sensation that we are very far from home indeed. What impresses me most about Levinson’s poetry is the sheer ambition of his artistic vision. Many poets today write books full of disconnected poems that tinker lightly with language. Each tome that Levinson writes is thematically connected, each poem forming another imaginative layer.
Wrack Lariat is no exception. It is Levinson’s most sprawling and generous offering yet, the most realized expression of his ideas regarding the ways that language can never be fixed, how it is always wonderfully rogue. In his poems, words blend, collide, osmote, migrate, and rend each other apart, forming what he has called at one point, “the great cosmic smooch.” However, while Levinson believes that words form a “spiraling plasma,” the most striking thing about Wrack Lariat is how much weight each word carries, how each one is offered up to the reader to be savored. This comes out especially in how, despite the vast reach of Levinson’s Hinge poetics, many of the poems in Wrack Lariat are rather brief. In other words, Levinson lets his poems breathe, gives them space to do their thing, work their magic on the reader’s brain.
A most striking section in this volume is Levinson’s riffs off of various visual artists ranging from Van Gogh to his long-time collaborator Linda Lynch. However, “flute carved from the wing bone of a red-crowned crane,” (a live reading of this poem and other Wrack Lariat jewels is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqCjbdQiMe0) remains, in my mind, the true standout. In this poem, Levinson writes of an ancient Chinese bone flute in such poignant phrases that one feels that they are briefly levitating, the same feeling I get when listening to Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending.
Hunt down a copy of this book. Rarely has contemporary poetry ever felt so alive, so full of possibilities.
Check out Iain Britton’s hot new word-slinging!