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.