Tuesday, May 22, 2007



parts of the journal: night by Richard Lopez
(A Homemade Affair, Sacramento, 2007)

A diamond. The compression of living into verse, a large life into short poems that glitter with the relishing of life. That’s what resulted from a process described by Richard Lopez in a last-page note to his chap, parts of the journal: night:

these poems were written as notebook entries often late at night from December ’05 to January ‘06

the 1st month of my son nicholas’s life
they capture I hope a 1st-time father’s ecstatic exhaustion

sleep-deprivation love and a number of colds
went in to the making of these poems

The poems are motivated by a lovely gesture and I can’t help but smile and hope that Lopez’s son will relish the gesture, too, someday. It’s a gesture that -- since I reside in wine country -- reminds me of oenophile-parents buying bottles of wine released in the year of their children’s births, so that they then may be opened at some appropriate celebratory time during their children’s lives. The beauty of this chap, of course, is that Nicholas can savor it as often as he wishes as soon as he learns to read.

Here’s one poem-entry in the poet’s notebook:

my domestic bohemia

                              1:30 a.m. to
               2:15 a.m.

a late bottle
television blue                paid programming
                              till my
eyes can’t stay open

rest / fury                the scramble
upon waking
                              to sit
                              might sound
that this is closed
but not
                              this is open

What heightens the engagement with this collection is how it isn’t just about a new parent’s experience; it’s also how parenting interweaves with the poet’s dogged determination (or so it seems) to continue being a poet through an experience that can overwhelm and exhaust:

anna and nicholas asleep
so like an old jazzman
working late into the night
there is that line by
berrigan ‘do not regret
my end / those who called
me friend’ and it is just
that reading cone’s lush
therapy of single malt
scotch in bed covered
in books for a cold
for me thick stout
guiness to kill the bugs
and then perhaps identity
at work contrasts with
the poet at night

Ultimately, parts of the journal: night manifests a desire to relish all aspects of living. So that when one reads:

then came home to
an envelope
written in red
the last 2 digits of the zip code
in purple
               a single
piece of paper
                              smiley face
circled in gold round nose
with a long curlicue of hair

sort of like mail art
from a visual poet
                              a mystery
project                from my 4-yr-old
newphew sent here
for his mom&dad                who ‘fessed
‘ain’t it sweet’

it is                               just that

one concludes that these poems are also sweet because one suddenly remembers sweetness is important. These poems reflect a particular poet’s personal life and yet one is moved to care as much as his family members, which is to say, here is a poetry that engages strangers because, beyond its particular references, it is a poetry that’s so very deeply felt even as its lines are meticulously crafted.


It’s my understanding that Lopez prepared this chap for the e-book exchange sponsored in May by Poetry SuperHighway. I do believe you can email him to request a .pdf version of the chap -- you can contact him through his blog Really Bad Movies http://reallybadmovies.blogspot.com/


Eileen Tabios HEARTS wine, dogs and Thou. She can't do anything but shrug over the loudness of her Silences...


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