Saturday, February 06, 2010

Odes to Tools

I received a chapbook in the mail yesterday: Dave Bonta's Odes to Tools. Beautifully done. I thought I'd glance through, find a couple of my favorites, quote a few good lines. What's easier than writing a review of a good little book? It practically writes itself.

Well, first I'd find my favorites. I remembered some of them, and went right to them. “Ode to a Compass”:

...what to do
about that pinhole
at the center of the paper?

* * *

The compass is a crutch.
Restore its missing leg
so it can return to
its first life as
a gnomon:
circled by the sun.

Yep. Still there. Better than I remembered: “a seed for a stone,” was that line in it when I read it on Via Negativa? So I'd just leaf through now to the “Ode to a Shovel,” quote a few more lines, and I'd be...

Wait a minute. “Ode to a Coping Saw”? I don't remember that. I laugh aloud at the end of it:

it copes.

And then, the “Ode to a Hive Tool”:

You need a key for entering where there is no door.
You are too much full of your mammal self
to fit through the always-open entryway
& in any case would have no idea
how to execute a waggle dance,
which looks like sun-drugged madness to you,
looming over the brood box with your angry halo

Another one I'd missed, somehow. Oh, but here's the Scissors! “We are rich. We have three pairs of scissors.”

I got lost, on my way to the Shovel, discovering, rediscovering. How can you get lost, in a thirty page book? But I did. All these poems have edges, teeth. It's a brilliant collection.

I realized along the way that there's nothing more difficult than writing a review of a good little book: a review that did it justice would be longer than the book, a patent absurdity.

We are rich. I'm so happy to have this little book. Why on earth would you read a review of it? Just get it.

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