98th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 98th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2011 Fearless Poetry Reading Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry.  Please contribute to the growing list of 2011 Indie Lit Award Poetry Suggestions, visit the stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour from April.

While I’m off enjoying the Gaithersburg Book Festival, I’m going to leave you to discuss the following poem from David Livingstone Clink‘s collection Monster:

The Soldier (page 35)

If he could speak he’d ask for some food, some water, and you’d invite
him in. Taking off his boots and putting his feet up, he’d sip lemonade
with you on the back porch. He’d talk about where he grew up, which
sports he played, and the women he knew. He’d say this place is very
much like the place he grew up in, but the sky seemed bigger in his
hometown. You’d ask if he wanted to stay for the BBQ, and he’d surprise
you by saying yes. He’d eat his fill, wash it down with a few beers. Before
it gets dark he’d say he lost his map. Can you tell me where the enemy
is? he would ask, and you’d point beyond the trees, and he’d thank you
for your hospitality, and he’d be off, walking in the direction of those
trees. But no, the faceless soldier cannot speak, you don’t strike up a
conversation, you don’t invite him in. He passes your house and you
get a sense of relief as you watch him become some distant memory, become
the landscape, the soldier as much a part of the world as that distant
mountain that draws everything in, even the clouds.

Let me know your thoughts, ideas, feelings, impressions. Let’s have a great discussion…pick a line, pick an image, pick a sentence.

I’ve you missed the other Virtual Poetry Circles. It’s never too late to join the discussion.

Monster by David Livingstone Clink

Monster by David Livingstone Clink, published by small publisher Tightrope Books, is a collection broken into five parts and is dedicated to those who “dreamed of monsters under the bed.”  What an appropriate dedication, as there is an undercurrent of menace to some of these poems.  Beyond the shapeshifters, the aliens, and the other monsters that go bump in the night, Clink is drawing out the mischief and the darkness within each of us.  While we are human, there is a baser nature beneath the civility that he calls attention to, warning us to remain wary and yet accepting of that nature.

In “Pantoum for a Recent Kill” (page 36), the narrator highlights the need of humanity to categorize even dead bodies, to shape them within a context, providing them meaning even if no meaning exists.  While we want to examine these corpses (whether they are literal or figurative) in great detail and pose them as we see fit, we also shy away from the pleasure of it and of acknowledging this darker desire to get involved on our basest level.  “In putting an end to something braver than us/cut the corpse into small pieces.  Bury it deep/and turn away with relief that this isn’t you.//”  Additionally, readers may notice a slight disdain in the lines chosen by Clink; the narrator seems to be sarcastic about the actions of the denier who “buries it deep.”  Perhaps Clink is discussing the corpses of our past selves or the past selves mentioned throughout history and lore, but no matter which corpses he is referring to, it is clear that he wants to break through the fear of self-examination.

Above Us (page 50)
-after Julia Hartwig’s ‘Above Us’

Running until they are tired, out of space,
boys cast shadows in the dwindling light

of a vast square, the soccer ball bouncing,
ending this day with awe and consolation.

This completes another cycle in dying–
the boys turn home, talk excitedly,

the soccer ball having its own language
that had to be kicked out of it to be heard.

Moving through the parts of the collection, readers will note a progression in the narration from the fantastical to the more concrete, but even in these different poems the undercurrent of menace and darkness continues.  However, the narration changes from a questioning of its existence to a denial of its existence to an acceptance.  From “The Airships Take Us, Even as We Blow Out the Last Candle” (page 27), “The darkness did not come on like a tarantula./It was always here./It is penetrated by man-made machines/muscling into the night,/by two young women on a downtown bus/with blue streaks in their hair, whispering,/Calvary, and, Hosanna.//”

Through playful language and use of creative poetic forms (from pantoum to cross-reading — “Weathered Remains” on page 24 being one of the best cross-reading poems in the collection), Clink will make readers take pause to rethink each line and their own preconceptions about their humanity, while at the same time celebrating what makes us human in the darkness.  Overall, Clink’s use of language and poetic form in Monster creates a surreal malaise that readers will swim in, searching for an exit but enticed to stay to uncover the dark truth about themselves.  A dark truth that is worth knowing so that they can move beyond it to a more mindful life.  Another winner in poetry for the year.

David Clink; Copyright Geoff George

About the Poet:

His first book of poetry was released from Tightrope Books in the Spring of 2008. It is called “Eating Fruit Out of Season.”

David is a member of The League of Canadian Poets.  Check out his Website, Poetry Machine.




This is my 20th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.


This is my 13th book for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.