Poetry, chapbook, 20 pages, from Bottlecap Features.
A game of duck-duck-goose, a hero’s launch into a blinding, brilliant future, a shift in sound that can’t be pinned as coming or as going. Vacillating between those and these, the poems in Whether Drupe or Pome thrill in indecision. They play with what Kay Ryan calls “recombinant rhyme,” circling back continually but refusing ever finally to land. Still, the poems in this series are not frozen by their semantic tensions: they urge joyful action.
Whether Drupe or Pome is about taking chances. When the spotlight lands on us, these poems insist that “for the heart-bust hour, the big-boy feats, / you don’t get to set your own alarm.” But they’re also insistent on our inability to read the signs of any critical juncture, to know whether we’re picking the right fruit or whether it’s even the right time. Whether Drupe or Pome is interested in these “critical” moments in the most etymological sense; it remembers —obliquely— the judgement of Paris, the Garden of the Hesperides, ancient ciphers of an even more ancient yearning for the unpredictable opportunity to make a choice that leads to glory. So, it’s crisscrossed by the echoes of competing myths. And the definition and conditions of glory never quite get sorted out. In these poems, even simple things, like child’s play or a waving hand, diverge into multiple and often irreconcilable options, paths that cross and undo one another. Still, in Whether Drupe or Pome, whether or not we ever quite manage to classify what we’re looking for, we somehow end up “getting somewhere.”
Zachary Rockwell Ludington (he/él) is a scholar of Iberian avant-garde poetry, translator, and poet. He is currently working on a book on modernist pastoral in Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan poetry at the beginning of the twentieth century. His creative work has appeared in PEN America, Numéro Cinq, Guesthouse, LEVELER, Ghost City Review, and other journals. His translation of Agustín Fernández Mallo’s Pixel Flesh, published by Cardboard House Press, won a grant from the PEN/Heim Translation Fund. Zach teaches Spanish at the University of Maine and lives with his wife and two little boys.