The pamphlet’s title is a word made up by the poet’s son, who also features in the poem “Rose,”
“arms flung above his head,
a mirror of his mother.
Their murmurs and breath
float from open lips
his a perfect miniature
of her own sleep-slackened rose.”
Although the poem holds sentiment, it is not sentimental and sets the tone for the rest of the pamphlet. There’s only a couple of baby poems too, Roy Marshall is clearly aware that other won’t share a parent’s fascination for their own child. There are touches of childhood, in “Egg”
“‘The baby bird will die,’ she says,
‘it’s [sic] mother will leave because of your scent.’
I tip it warm and blue, into the nest,
walk to the classroom, my face hot and wet,
the world off kilter.”
Again there’s a demonstration of control and allowance of space for readers who are not told what to think. The actions are allowed to speak for themselves. The tone of softness in “I tip it warm and blue, into the nest” contrasted by the instructional tone of “walk to the classroom” echoing the change in mood from a optimistic taking a chance the bird will accept the egg despite its being tainted by human scent to the pessimistic “world off kilter”.
“Gopagilla” doesn’t just offer personal poems either. “Records on the Bones” is in the USSR where underground presses printed flexi-discs of American Jazz records on discarded x-ray sheets often leaving the x-ray visible.
“grooves cut into opaque femurs,
hair-lined metatarsals and wrists,
furrows on fields of cranium, long since gone to ground.
Smuggled under over-coats through the streets
was the promise of jazz, sleeved between
twilight and heartbeat,
carried up back stairs to box rooms where
the snare flitted like sun-light through a line
of freight; this is how St. Louis and all its saints
came to Leningrad, in the bootlegged sound of those
who were born as slaves, musicians who drew us along
in the wake of all that western decadence.”
“Gopagilla” demonstrates a firm foundation for future collections from a poet who appreciates the need for poems to communicate with and offer space for readers. Available from Crystal Clear Creators.
By Emma Lee
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