Over the weekend, I read (and reread) Ben Purkert’s 2018 outing, For the Love of Endings. The book was a good match for me because it’s a.) free verse, and b.) fond of word play, and c.) mostly short poems staying on a single page.
In fact, many stay in the upper fourth of the page, giving the book a lot of space, the final frontier, in certain sections.
To give you a sense of Purkert’s style, here is a poem from the first set, one affording Minnie Mouse a cameo.
If I Shut My Eyes, What Other Doors in Me Fly Open
I’d like to meet my bones.
I’d strew them on a Minnie Mouse
beach blanket near the water–
her red dress, eyelashes peeking through
my rib cage. Isn’t this love: to marry
a plush background? I’d unthread
Minnie’s face, stitch it into places
I’ve lived: each hole in the wall,
each rough winter I’ve held
against my lips. I remember snow
like it was yesterday, sticking
into the night. But memory is lost
on bones. Flesh, on the other hand,
grasps what it can, while it can:
like the sea takes the shore,
dragging it by the ear.
I love how the bones get cast on a Minnie Mouse towel only to “peek through / my rib cage.” This, along with the play on words in “…to marry / a plush background” is signature Purkert.
Then summer is contrasted with the memory of winter, and bones (which “memory is lost on”) with flesh — flesh that “grasps what it can, while it can.”
The grand finale gives us an idiomatic personification by way of metaphor: “like the sea takes the shore, / dragging it by the ear.”
Fun. Light. Even when dark subjects are sometimes explored (and they are, in some poems). My kind of poet, in other words.
3 thoughts on ““Eyelashes Peeking Through My Rib Cage””
My kind of poet–love the goofy twist on the idiom in the last line. Lightly approaching dark subjects–a cool strategy for having it both ways.
A friend mentioned your site to me, and that you’d recently given my book a read. Just wanted to chime in and personally say thanks! As you can imagine, it can be tough sometimes for a poetry book to find its way to readers. I’m grateful to you for helping make that happen, and for your close attention and insights on the poems themselves.
Thanks for taking the time to drop a note, Ben. Happy to help in my small way. And say, aren’t you due for another collection soon? Looking forward to it!