First and a half

(With apologies to Brent Cunningham)

pink ties...

Kyle Schlesinger, The Pink (Kenning Editions, 2008), unpaginated, $7.50

As John Yau does in Exhibits, Schlesinger envelops social and cultural critiques in humorous retoolings of clichés. Schlesinger, however, deploys more traditional devices than Yau, especially enjambment, in order to draw attention to his broadly “ecological” concerns. As he puts it in the first poem, “Macrosemantic Liturgy,“ “There are plenty of rivers in the sea/ But you can’t step on the same fish twice.” Alliteration and opposition (“Light’s lofty//Turn towards/the quotidian”), internal rhyme and assonance (“In the beak to the/ Bleak passage say”), and repetition (“Which” is a leitmotif throughout the magnificent “Shedding”) cross-stitch these poems together at every level: syntactical, rhetorical and semantic. The overall effect is a seamless network of linguistic investigations and speculations that work to undermine complacency and underline necessity. Thus, in “Hey Nancy,” the place to sit/ Between the chair and the thought of it” is “the pink” that lies invisibly in the middle: “To see red or white/White or red/ As the opposing tones/Of departure.”  These Wittgenstein-cum-Kit Robinson ruminations strike ironic, but deeply felt, poses shot through with, even as they radiate, the possibilities "in between."