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For the Love of Endings

Ben Purkert

$15.95 Four Way Books (74 pages)

ISBN 978-1-945588-05-1

 

By J. David:

 

 

Of poetry, Kevin Stein says:

“To read a poem is to engage beguiling Show & Tell. [One] learns the voice of her wondering, worrying, singing, or dissembling about those matters. One is enthralled or one is bored…

Much of what poets call work resembles friskily serious Show & Tell… Its performance—both the writing as making and the co-making also known as reading.”

Much of good modern poetry has become audience facing, a choice to write into the here and now for the everyday (read as: not poetically trained) person in an effort to seriously grapple with the forces at work in society. What makes this kind of poetry so efficacious is its balance between showing and telling. A poet’s greatest ally is imagery—deployed well it can embody a whole universe of possibilities; there is no limit to the poetic imagination.

The brave part of the whole endeavor comes on the coin’s other side—the audacity to say with any measure of certainty that anything is true: the telling. If we are being honest, we are compelled to admit how little we actually do know, how grand of a space the wide unknown occupies. To make any statement of truth is to open up the possibility of being wrong. In For the Love of Endings, Ben Purkert is fully aware of this (IDEAL WORLD):

“in an ideal world there’s no history:

no chicken before the egg broke

in the beginning there was

light without words for light”

Ben invites us along with him as he works his way to the truth, adept in the practice of uncertainty, and honest about the process of the search (TODAY IS WORK):

“I’m searching for the right verb

for a dead frog. I want one

large but not so full it floods

my eyes. The verb should stand

on its own without support

from viewers like you & you

really are a viewer”

In an almost prescriptive format Purkert, with surgical precision from the spacing to the line breaks, often begins his poems a statement of fact (MIRROR I DON’T KNOW):

“I’m far from the dead center of things”

He then does as Plato’s Socrates suggests and follows the evidence where it leads into the poetic imagination (MIRROR I DON’T KNOW):

“Each afternoon spent in four coordinates:

Me, Me, Sunlight, Ache. You, leaving warm prints

 

on whose mirror I don’t know”

Finally ending with an action, the way this new knowledge manifests in the world and its result of sitting in the body (MIRROR I DON’T KNOW):

“Dearest pin on my screen, I’ll drag & drop you.

I’ll hold down on + until I’m larger than life.

 

To exit this window, I claw my way out”

Cloistered in the thought of losing your planet, your lover, and yourself is the idea of identity. Purkert, in exploring the ways out of a planet on the brink of destruction or a heart-break where the road corners either death, or apathy, or hurt; demonstrates with each poem a new thing we are capable of losing, slowly stripping away what we are comprised of in an attempt to uncover the fundamentally human: that which cannot be taken away.

Taking away piece by piece until there is nothing left to take from us, and with that, discovering where we go next (IN ZERO GRAVITY):

“…who really cares—the truth is so much

less engraved. The truth is

sailing across the sea & the sadness of

not wrecking. I remember the boats

upon boats. If one fills with water,

it veers away

from what it knows

starts a new life entirely.”

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