Sheer

by Tom Watters
Moontown Cafe
Third Place, September 2008
Judged by Tony Barnstone


static.
that, and roller skates

a small voice that
runs in,
leaves a wake

the receiver
becomes a monitor
distracted by a sexy beauty mark
dancing above that lip

the one she tends to bite

I feel corners of my smirk
lift as grass to the light
syrup of Pet Sounds
with a twist of Gil Giberto

I trace small ovals
on the back of my hand
veiled to earlier weather,
storms of malcontent

I scuff an obscured itch

in wonder of
foolish electrons

and parts

love of tiny transducers
that bring her
cinematically


Okay, I admit it--this is a peculiar poem, rather elliptical, hard to grasp. It is so lyrical and glancing that I'm not entirely sure what's going on in the poem. I think the poem is about a protagonist who is looking at a video of an ex-lover, or perhaps of a movie star he has a crush on. Thus, the language of the poem becomes all static and light and foolish electrons and tiny transducers and the woman who is brought to consciousness cinematically. I like the way the poem uses light to turn technology into lyricism. I enjoy certain aspects of the line breaks, as in the stanza:

I feel corners of my smirk
lift as grass to the light
syrup of Pet Sounds
with a twist of Gil Gilberto

The first line seems to stand alone, but then the next line modifies it: I feel the corners of my smirk. Then I feel them lift like grass lifts to the light. In a poem about light and electrons and the television screen, the smile lifting to the light takes on extra meaning. Then this meaning is revised by the next line: "light" turns out to refer to weight--light / syrup of Pet Sounds /...[and] Gil Gilberto. So, the meaning evolves in interesting ways, and the "wrong" meanings turn out to be right, part of the poem's unfolding strategy. Cool stuff. --Tony Barnstone

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