Fincke is so aware of the demonic tendencies in his world he would never have to spend a weekend in Iraq in order to write a book of poems about torture. The exotic is not the thing; rather, the interplay, that millisecond vibration one feels before a light flicks on. In Pennsylvania, we need only to do a little fishing, or some casual gardening. If the season’s not right for cultivation, try the florist. In his poem “The Doctrine of Signatures” a man seeks a certain something: The woman who followed me from flower/ To flower said Birthday? Anniversary?/ And I shook my head among the arrangements/ Until she shifted to Accident? Sickness?”
Paracelsus’ Doctrine of Signatures assigned healing purposes to flowers and seeds based on shape, size and shade. The speaker wanders aisles finding remedies for pancreas and liver and soul, “the flowers that form like tumor…scattered/ Like great seasonings for the earth, blended/ So perfectly they lie invisible/ Until they rise from our astonished tongues.”
*From the Coal Hill blog. Read the rest of Barrett Warner's review of The History of Permanence on Coal Hill Review's website.
The House Fox
A fox has been found cradled in the arms of
the dead in a 16,000-year-old grave in Jordan.
Domesticated, the fox-finder says,
possibly, or maybe, or just a thing,
at least, to consider because we are
in love with the dogs of any era.
No one here admits to faith in old graves,
but the dream of household foxes collects
in our sleep. Boys beg their fathers to trap
and tame them, breaking a fox like a horse.
In a nearby neighborhood, the rumor
of a dead boy’s dog drifts from door to door,
a father keeping his promise, a pet
put down for the folded arms of the drowned.
Already, the dogs on our street whimper
like children. When we visit new neighbors,
we check every snout and ear, examine
the eyes of what greets us for evidence.
That couple offers nothing about breed,
but both animals they’ve mastered answer
only to what sounds like ancient language,
their names a swift river of consonants.
Soon those skittish pets slip into the room
where our youngest naps. My wife swallows and
swiftly follows. When she returns, she holds
our daughter so high, the house feels flooded.