Saturday, July 19, 2008



SKINNY BUDDHA by Sheila E. Murphy
(Dusie, 2007)
"As with many forms of Damocles, she limbered her neglect in time to meet the vitriol with young, spent sugar. She was dimed, foretested, and rescheduled in her palm capital “p” as if and only avenues would creed her where she wept. If only pacemade lint were batched for sea sail, she might adumbrate, she might defray the cost of lazy made infractive silt. But no. She wandered once again from gender as she had been properly adduced. If not now, why? If not then, practice!"
(from "Skinny Buddha and the Timely Rinse of Lamplight", page 4)

Poetry's declaration is addition and not observation (observation lying dormant in a subject for any observer to rouse), and although written, is of a perishability equal to speech.
"maybe what is beautiful is
repeated fare amid fanned heat
back and forth"
(from "The Verb To Be", page 6)

The poems in Skinny Buddha offer such words as relapse, returns, remands, repeated, resurgences, and Ref rains. There are references to seasons, to warmth and cold. And there's this:
"To try for size one loses peaceable perspective. Several courses taken with sundowners easily persuade the visitation team to reconsider digging in. Something in the realm of hurt precludes a smooth transitioning to possibly an easy move, one consciously owning resilience."
(from the prose poem beginning "Posture remands itself to folds...", page 8)

This is return to language, recovery as abandonment. The solidity of each line (or sentence) of verse eyes surrounding lines and, though in other poems, other books, though by other poets, distant lines (I am not writing of direct quotation).
"Color of inner radish, prior to talk
Versed in vernacular twice
Fargo the limestone below
Bloomington or some such loosely
Knit cadenza of the cable car or
Stitching born to seem immaculate"
(from "Chalk", page 16)

The presence of recurrence (starting with the book's title, being two six-letter words, each with twin consonants following the first of two vowels, the second vowel ending the word) underscores alliteration, assonance, and consonance.
"Passed out lifted home a problem vaulted onto silken limber proof of
purchase the vocabulary a choirmaster’s chit whittled to sound one
chants do you resist temptation to have rendered wrinkled prose
whose tower is not mint enough to father splits the sumptuous long
tone first elected then derailed from vastness and these height
assumptions battle-weary though preceding morning"
(the third of five "Site-Specific Rations", page 20)

A "sumptuous long tone first elected then derailed from vastness" doubles as a definition of the word 'poem'.
"Slapstick doves are bones of stressed errata tossed into communiqués. With cloves so near the heart, a darker sweetness trailing paths."
(from "As Such", page 21)

The "cl" of "cloves" makes a graphic writing, in type, of "doves".
"During prayer a soft p lace
Came a
Cross my sense of
H earing s he
Sounded pro-
I did not win

The first movement
Of giving up
The instrument p
Parallel to
(from "F Lute", page 13)

A word, such as "place" or "plucked" is repeated via separation. See also the poem "recreation" (page 9) and the poem beginning "Sc old" (page 10).
"It is a soon spun world open
To patterning."
(from "Tenacity", page 22)

Many wonders await, in this book or any book, poem, or artwork by Sheila E. Murphy.


Jeff Harrison reviewed books in GR #8 and GR #9. His poetry has appeared in several journals, including Otoliths and Dusie. You are welcome to visit Antic View.


EILEEN said...

Another view is offered by Seamas Cain in GR #9 at

EILEEN said...

Also of possible interest may be Dion Farqhar's review of Sheila E. Murphy's INCESSANT SEEDS in GR #4 at