A Barnes & Noble Review “Best Book of 2009”
In The Looking House, the poet lays out a map of human suffering, from wars within the psyche to wars that rage across the contemporary landscape. These intense, innovative lyrics stir and disturb, remaining aware of the way history bears down upon us and makes us responsible for the consequences of our choices. Marchant maps the shelters, the “precarious places” that give us refuge and “teach us everything.” Such a place might be an open window at midnight in childhood, or the broken sill of a deserted hut on the coast of Donegal. In these poems a “looking house” can just as easily be a locked ward, a barracks, a movie theater at midday, or that room in Rome where Keats lay dying. These poems may show us a broken world, but they also offer glimpses of survival and renewal, of trust and reconnection.
Marchant, Vietnam veteran, former conscientious objector, keen reader of the classics, knows how to harness the psyche’s uneasy map for times of conflict, nightmare, and war. Better yet, he knows how to sing his map in a way that consoles. His poems offer dense ecosystems of attention, tracing routes towards praise, finding ways ‘to thread/ one soul to the next.
—Barnes & Noble Review, Best of 2009
The Salt Stronger
I have seen the legislators
on their way,
the jacketless men
in mid-winter who will cast
their votes like stones for this war.
Men who have to cross the street
and over gutter, their cuffs
now vaguely blued with a salt
that dries in dots where it splashes,
and mingles with the finely
of the chalk-stripe suits,
the soi-disant practical men,
you can see them now tiptoeing,
now leaping, balletic, windsor-knotted,
they pass, they pass
the window of the Capitol Deli
wherein I am writing to my friend
he a “witness for peace,”
a poet who for years has wondered
what good poetry is or has been or does. …
Cover art from the caves at Lascaux, Plafond du Diverticule axial.
Photo credit: N. Ajoulat—CNP—MCC. Photo from the French Ministry of Culture website.
The photo was shot by placing the camera on the floor and aimed straight up at the arched ceiling, thereby visually capturing several of the animals painted there, and in the process creating a mandala effect. One images this is how it would have looked to the Paleolithic viewers who came into the cave and looked upward.