PAX ATOMICA POEMS
PRAISE:"If you've ever been down the Las Vegas strip of Disney World's Main Street USA, you may have noticed, mingled in your predictable disgust, a strong and surprising current of joy, even awe. That's McGrath's territory, right there, the place where your frustration with American culture has gone so far that it meets your sheer love of it coming from the opposite direction." --Joel Brouwer, Parnassus
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
HE HAS PUBLISHED FIVE OTHER BOOKS: CAPITALISM, AMERICAN NOISE, SPRING COMES TO CHICAGO, ROAD ATLAS AND FLORIDA POEMS.
HIS AWARDS INCLUDE THE KINGSLEY TUFTS PRIZE AND FELLOWSHIPS FROM THE GUGGENHEIM AND MACARTHUR FOUNDATIONS. HE TEACHES IN THE CREATIVE WRITING PROGRAM AT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY IN MIAMI.
MY REVIEW AND THOUGHTS:
I WANTED TO LIKE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. WHEN I STARTED READING IT, IT FELT SO FRESH AND NEW THAT IT SPARKED MY ATTENTION AND THEN AS I MOVED ON FROM ONE POEM TO THE OTHER I FELT LIKE I WAS CONFUSED AND ALSO LET DOWN. WHEN I READ POETRY I WANT TO LOOK AT THE WHOLE PICTURE OF IT. NOT JUST THE NOW BUT ALSO THE FUTURE. TO ME POETRY IS APART OF LIFE AND IT'S RICH AND IT MEANS SOMETHING AND TO ME ITS A PERSONAL PART OF WRITING HISTORY. I THINK THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD IS LOST WORDS. WHAT I LOOK AT IS, IS THIS POETRY GOING TO TRANSCEND TIME OR EVEN THE NOW. WHAT I MEAN BY THAT IS 30 TO 50 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD WILL PEOPLE BE READING THIS LIKE THEY READ FROST OF WHITMAN OR WILL IT END UP LOST FOREVER WHICH TO ME IS SO SAD THAT IT HURTS MY HEART. ALSO IS THIS POETRY BOOK ABLE TO BE HELD NOW AND READ BY PEOPLE.
THIS BOOK IS ON THAT LINE THAT I FEEL IT MIGHT NOT TRANSCEND TIME OR EVEN IN TODAY'S CULTURE. WHEN YOU READ AN OLDER POETRY BOOK ONE HAS TO SET THERE MIND INTO THAT TIME PERIOD BECAUSE HALF OF THE WORDS OR SUBJECT THEY USE PEOPLE DON'T KNOW OR USE ANYMORE AND I WOULD EXPECT TO HAVE TO ROCK MY BRAIN WITH THOSE POEMS BECAUSE THERE OLDER. WITH THIS BOOK I REALLY FOUND MYSELF HAVING TO FLIP THROUGH A DICTIONARY AND ALSO LOOK UP SOME SUBJECTS ONLINE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT. I THINK THAT IS ONE BAD IDEA THAT A LOT OF WRITERS DON'T TAKE INTO THERE MIND SET THAT NOT ALL PEOPLE ARE GOING TO UNDERSTAND PERSONAL SUBJECTS OF WHAT YOUR DESCRIBING. SOME WILL SAY THAT'S READING THIS WELL THAT IS WHAT THEY WANTED TO TALK ABOUT AND THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THE READER, WELL THEN YOU SHOULD NOT BE WRITING A BOOK IF YOU DON'T WANT READERS, THAT IS WHAT WRITING IS ABOUT TO EXPRESS YOURSELF FOR OTHERS. IT'S WRITTEN WORD TO BE READ. THIS BOOK MADE ME HAVE A HEADACHE TO BE HONEST I DID NOT UNDERSTAND HALF OF IT AND SOME READERS MIGHT MAYBE IT'S JUST ME, AND THAT'S WONDERFUL IF YOU DO LIKE IT BUT FOR ME THE GREATEST POETRY BOOKS ARE BOOKS ALL CAN READ AND FROM START TO FINISH, THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE TO LIKE IT BUT AT LEAST THEY CAN READ IT.
LET ME EXPRESS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. HE USES WORDS LIKE:
ZEUGMA, XEROPHAGY WHICH AFTER LOOKING UP MEANS DRY EATING, XOANON, ABECEDARIAN, TRAVERTINE, CHALCEDONY, KLIEG, I DON'T CLAIM TO BE SOME GENIUS BUT I DO KNOW HOW TO READ AND WRITE AND LOVE BOOKS, THAT IS WHAT I DO THE MOST IS READ AND WRITE AND SO I JUST FELT LIKE THE WRITER HERE WAS LOOKING THROUGH A DICTIONARY FOR WORDS AND NOT THINKING IF ANYBODY ELSE WAS GOING TO UNDERSTAND IT.
THERE IS PART IN THE POEM JACK GILBERT WHICH IS:
Take a chisel to the mountainside - basalt, gabbro, porphyry
I AM LIKE WHAT. AFTER LOOKING IT UP I UNDERSTOOD IT BECAUSE THEY ARE ROCKS. I FELT HE WROTE THIS BOOK FOR PEOPLE WHO SPEND THERE TIME IN COLLEGE OR SEEK OUT WORDS THAT NO ONE IN EVERYDAY LIFE USES. I DON'T WANT TO SOUND SO MEAN BUT THIS BOOK IS GREAT AT ONE POINT WITH THE SIMPLE TYPE POEMS HE HAS AND THEN THEY ARE PUSHED INTO SOME DEEP WORD DICTIONARY INVESTMENT.
ONE THING I FIND WITH HIS WRITING IS HIS POEMS SEEM TO NOT END IN CERTAIN ONES. I DON'T KNOW IF THAT WAS MEANT TO BE OR IF IT WAS BY ACCIDENT BUT WHATEVER THE CASE I FELT VERY CONFUSED WITH THIS BOOK. HE IS A MASTER AT WORDS I REALLY ENJOYED THAT ASPECT BUT IN THE END WORDS HAVE TO FLOW OR AT LEAST MEAN SOMETHING TO THE READER TO UNDERSTAND. I HONESTLY THOUGHT AT ONE TIME I WAS READING A DIRECTIONS BOOK OR A TEXT BOOK.
THE POEM FROM THE BOOK I ENJOYED WAS ON PAGE 1-3 OR AT LEAST THE POEM I FELT MADE A MARK IN POETRY HISTORY. IT'S RICH WITH IMAGES AND HAS A BEAUTIFUL TALE THAT WORKS SO WELL FOR THE READER AND JUST GRABS THE MIND AND PLACES YOU THERE. I REALLY LOVED THIS POEM.
Girl with Blue Plastic Radio
The first song I ever heard was "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde."
There was a girl at the playground with a portable radio,
lying in the grass near the swing set,
beyond the sun-lustred aluminum slide,
kicking her bare feet in the air,
her painted toenails—toes
the color of blueberries, rug burns, yellow pencils, Grecian urns.
This would be when—1966? No,
later, '67 or '68. And no,
it was not the very first song I ever heard,
but the first that invaded my consciousness in that elastically joyous
way music does, the first whose lyrics I tried to learn,
my first communication from the gigawatt voice
of the culture—popular culture,
mass culture, our culture—
kaboom!—raw voltage embraced for the sheer thrill of getting juiced.
Who wrote that song? When was it recorded, and by whom?
Melody lost in the database of the decades
but still playing somewhere in the mainframe cerebellums
of its dandelion-chained,
still echoing within the flesh and blood mausoleums
of us, me, we, them, the self-same blades
of wind-sown crabgrass spoken of and to by Whitman,
and who could believe it would still matter
decades or centuries later, in a new millennium,
matter what we listened to,
what we ate and watched, matter
that it was "rock 'n roll," for so we knew to call it,
matter that there were hit songs, girls, TVs, fallout shelters.
Who was she, her with the embroidered blue jeans and bare feet,
toenails gilded with cryptic bursts of color?
She is archetypal, pure form, but no less believable for that.
Her chords still resonate, her artifacts have endured
so little changed as to need no archeological translation.
She was older than me, worldly and self-assured.
She was, already, a figure of erotic fascination.
She knew the words and sang the choruses
and I ran over from the sandbox to listen
to a world she cradled in one hand, transistorized oracle,
blue plastic embodiment of our neo-Space Age ethos.
The hulls of our Apollonian rocket ships were as yet unbarnacled
and we still found box turtles in the tall weeds and mossy grass
by the little creek not yet become what it was all becoming
in the wake of yellow earth-movers, that is:
suburbia. Alive, vibrant, unself-consciously evolving,
something new beneath the nuclear sun,
something new in the acorn-scented dark.
Lived there until I was seven in a cinder block garden
apartment. My prefab haven, my little duplex ark.
And the name of our subdivision was
SO WITH ALL THE NEGATIVE AND SOME POSITIVE I HAVE SAID, I WILL LEAVE THIS UP TO THE READER TO SEE IF THEY LIKE IT. I REALLY DID NOT OR LEAST DID NOT LIKE TO HAVE TO PAUSE AND PICK A DICTIONARY UP TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS BEING SAID.
2 OUT OF 5