Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Kay Loftus

Clive Matson sends me his Crazy Child Scribbler, which is made up of poems and announcements about his workshops. The latest issue features poems of Kay Loftus, who "died recently in her nineties." I'm guessing Kay took some of Clive's classes; none of the poems are given previous publication credit.

The poems use rhyme & meter & occasionally resort to archaic "poetic" diction like "Methinks" or capitalizing "Wisdom". As amateur stuff goes it's not bad, really. That's faint praise, I know. I'd chuckle at an open mic over, "I hate the feel of pointed shoes! / I'll never wear them; I refuse." But I had no interest in reading any further than those first two lines.


I think it will not be too hard,
to break my bond with breath;
I'll just breathe out
and not breathe in:
then saunter off with Death.


Now. I'll have to say I like "Finality". The only end-rhyme is breath/Death. I'm dubious about the personification of death, but it's been done before, certainly, and here it's not overdone. Death isn't wearing sandals or taking our heroine's hand. I like the speaker's insouciance. And the writer has an ear, the pleasing line of bs, a consonantal hard echoing the difficult hard of the first line. I like the repetition of breathe/breath, the mimesis of breathing. I don't scan lines much but here they seem to scan fluidly. I'd debate with myself about including it in a magazine. Maybe I would. What makes me hesitate? The sentiment is defiant but pat, a little on the cute side. It insists that carrying out this resolution won't "be too hard" and anticipates a jaunty "saunter" away from life. It's a very short poem. To keep my interest on repeated readings I'd like a bit more darkness, a suggestion of hard.

I like Kay most when contemplative, as in the opening lines of "This Kind of Stuff Keeps Me Awake":

I came awake and was aware I breathed ...
I marveled that so delicate an act,
not consciously engaged in nor conceived,
could be the force which keeps my Self intact.

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