Departure: Poems
Rosanna Warren
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Buy *Departure: Poems* online

Departure: Poems

Rosanna Warren
W.W. Norton
118 pages
April 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Warren calls forth the image of a god in flashes of brilliance, striding down a hillside "vomiting down/ its loosened jaw of scree." It is in such moments that changes are wrought, but often go unnoticed:

"any day, any ordinary hour, when all we see
is a peculiar, shivering brilliance in the air
like a premonition of migraine; and no one else can see
later, how in such a flash, the dark came there." (Arrival)
The words of the poet are incredibly personal, as each line resonates, the shared thoughts brought together, filling the mind with possibilities, with connections and memories. The word "mother" hovers frequently and cannot help but remind of another mother, brought to life on the pages:
"facing death, my
mother gripped the bedrails but still
stared straight ahead- and
who was it, finally,
who loosened
her hands?" (Simile)
The images evoked by Warren are larger than life and iconic, trapped in the web of myth, yet accessible to the imagination. Ancient civilization meets the modern world, from archetype to the aching loss of a loved one, classical form mired in the earth by feet of clay. Warren speaks with a singular voice, her phrases capturing a moment for eternity: "It is enough, this moment, not to speak. To touch your hand."

Haycraft Keebler is always at the center of any drama at the Don Quixote or nearby, a "political philosopher and populist idealist, manic-depressive man-about-town," quietly subversive character. The proprietors of the Don Q are especially protective of Keebler, self-appointed guardians of "Departure: Poems. Haycraft is ever brewing one scheme or another, small anarchies to challenge neighborhood complacency.

Haycraft has a soft spot for the down-and-out, those kindred souls who need a helping hand or a floor to sleep on, but everyone is concerned when Haycraft shows up with Lambret Dillinger, a fifteen-year-old or so street hustler and graffiti artist with a penchant for sniffing aerosol cans. But Haycraft sees a spark there and nurtures the boy's burgeoning intellect, hoping for the best.

Dickens himself could not have provided as colorful a group of characters, a cast as eccentric as any nineteenth-century denizens of the wrong side of the tracks: Beau and Glenda Stiles, owners of the Don Quixote; Romeo Diaz, who believes that "sex is liberation," hopelessly in love with Anantha Bliss, ex-ballet-dancer-turned-stripper and Internet diva; Chesly Sutherland, a local policeman temporarily off duty for use of excessive force, who watches over the patrons of the bar; and the inimitable Mather Williams, sometimes worker at the Don Q, who occupies Romeo's basement and creates his own unique works of art, a combination of drawings, kitsch and colored markers.

Real problems are handled with a Victorian flare by an author with compassion for the human condition and a penchant for irony. In a complicated web of self-delusion, misplaced affections and the afflictions of poverty, these odd characters act out their small dramas, stumbling over one another in their eagerness to accomplish something, anything meaningful in their disappointing lives. Proving himself master of the soliloquy, Gann does each of his quirky characters proud, as they stumble blindly through the vacuum of fate, with only each other for comfort.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Luan Gaines, 2005

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