Certainty is the cage that keeps us safe from curiosity. I've been released from the cage. I am the songbird and I am flying for the window. I know it's closed but I plan on breaking through. – Charlie Coté, Jr. (1987-2005)

Monday, January 24, 2011

In Confidence: A Poetic Review of Jim Tilley's First Book of Poems

Jim Tilley
Buy In Confidence
Rather than write a typical review, I'll share instead a poem I wrote that literally steals phrases from Jim Tilley's excellent first book of poems, In Confidence (Red Hen Press, 2011). Jim's poems are exquisitely crafted and a pleasure to read.

And if you don't believe me, then read

"ON THE ART OF PATIENCE" (Winner of Sycamore Review's 2008 Wabash Prize for Poetry)

Here's my tribute to Jim's book:

by Charles Coté

That to know the universe
    is to see the elegance of his mind,
he might not be a person like you,
    and yet he might be the one

to show you things
    don’t always work out,
the one to make you think
    about the unanswerable,

how to make a brick,
    the act of grasping handfuls
and letting each sift away.
    Swimming in the depths

of his ocean, it quiets
    the blood and brain,
even if things aren’t always right.
    There’s more to the shape of things

than in the picture: being
    in the beauty of figures.
It’s the shape of things that counts.
    If only you were so inclined,

and weren’t other wise
    so thoroughly engaged,
weren’t ogling every big-breasted,
    fat-lipped, wide-hipped girl

you meet, you’d admire his eagerness
    to mate with other types, feel his urge
to belong, to carve plainsong
    into crescendo, a force that draws

you in. You have come to the great sandbox
    again and again. Who could blame you
for wondering? When you sit down
    to write, when you sweep up

a thousand fragments, when you
    send them to him, trying to plumb
what you don’t understand,
    when you wonder why

you made the thing you made,
    the way it casts light
on everyday affairs, he can’t
    help but pity you poor

Daedalus. Just like you find
    a shrink to fix the inner cracks,
you take him in confidence,
    take time to walk together

to the other side, see that
    life is long enough
to hear each other’s song.
    He proves it a different way

than you, each to validate
    a life. You know you would give up
secrets without seeming to,
    less for livelihood than the pleasure

of his friendship. You each need
    both types of darkness, a network
of everything connecting everything.
    Here, the wind is everywhere,

And everywhere, the need
is now.

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