There Are Trees by Maxwell Shanley (Released by Dropleaf Press, 2017)
Review by Greg Bem (@gregbem)
Casual periphery: Ison by Sevdaliza and Green Twins by Nick Hakim
What’s in your life? What’s in your realm of documentation? What’s lies in the tact of your observations? Are there tress, or are there other proximal things? Are these things seen up, or seen down? And where are you standing when it all comes together, presses in, at once, like textured pages tied together with red thread. Like Springtime in a hot and dry landscape.
For that which stands. For that which falls.
As Maxwell Shanley says, opening the book, opening the outwardly, which we need, which I felt the pressure to absorb, language, this communication, this zealous ideal. I think of how I think of standing. I think of how I think of falling. I think of what I owe to these positions, what we all, each of us, owe to these perspectives. A dominant discord, but also a fantastical optimism. It is not a poetry of complacency or nicety. It is a poetry of mature design, precise like a joust, widening like breeze.
So, then, there is movement throughout, then. And movement relates these things. This is how we lead from point A to point B. I suppose, and I suppose a lot, that we also must gauge how these things, these spasms of inspiration, these lives within the life we live, creep upon us, how they actually arrive, how they arrive from once where they were before heading off to their next position. These, then, are the extended lines of autonomous thought, trained lenses of our organs of vision, and we give them purpose, or purposes as a result of such knowledge. As is the most inductive, and intimate, of poetries and their lines, and their weights carried within their own contexts and essences.
I suppose. And then I shudder, I spasm, and I look back at Shanley. At his work in There Are Trees. At his earnest undertaking, like shovel to sunlight, filled with matter, raised, offered, a gift, a proposition, propped up, or extended, muscles aching, but strong is the response to the ache. Like a smile.
Regressive. What’s in your life? And upon identification, what to do? To find the components and take them? Track them? Expand upon them, or break them down to their own components? Macrocosmic designations. Microcosmic designations. Other, similar waves, arcs, ownerships: of truth, of an exquisite motion toward the image.
We were phosphenes, a hypnic jerk
on the back of the lid, all of us
in the same sleep.
In Shanley’s essence we have a realization of the extended act. We have pages that alter us, that are altars for us. There is composure. There is hiding. There is the realm of Shanley’s beauty, and it’s been delivered. A delivery, yes, the tone embraces the delivery! It is beautiful here, in There Are Trees, where we have arrived, or where everything has been brought to us, all along, we have been here. The aspect of the lettering, There Are Trees versus THERE ARE TREES, a mere perfection in the distinct clatter of organization, like wooden shoes sounding the echoes off the walls and across the recently empty room, or the slump of a tree falling, to rest in its composition and decomposition at once.
To open enough to allow the connotative experience requires effort and effortlessness. Paradoxically, Shanley’s voice is as much a voice of breath as it is a voice of calm and rest. The breath as it speaks these lines showers the landscape, merging the liquidous with the earthly, creating an exemplary murk. Again, dualities: primitive meets exceptionally complex; grandiose meets straightforward. The words speak themselves. The wielder unpacks their own reward through their own efforts.
[. . .] and you are a piano and let me be the crack in the glass, the salty water drinking away your walls.
The breath as the statement is intoned, carefully, as a book should be: wrapped, wondering, wandering forward. Roots to expansions of growth. Poems as the format. A carrying capacity. A capacity to carry, to preserve, to infuse, through collection, with the beautiful, and the paramount too. But only such as it is matter of fact: a calm, an inhale meeting an exhale in a common boundary of excellence.
These poems here are statements. As trickles of water, or distant lightning, or the bold maneuver of the limbs of a being, or the shadow complete and perfect edging along and beyond, to wherever you might not remember to give your attention, but promise to through the arrived epiphanic moment.