I very much enjoyed these poems, also because they were all of six lines, but mostly because Charles Wright wrote them. I don’t think this collection as a whole was as stunning as some of his other books, but it was still excellent. Very gracefully written. I dogeared many pages - things I loved and things I argued with.
I also enjoyed the titles, such as “As the Train Rolls Through, I Remember an Old Poem,” which begins -Well, here we are again, old friend, Ancient of Days,
Eyeball to eyeball.
Other intriguing titles include:
“Our Days are Political, but Birds are Something Else”
“Time Is a Graceless Enemy, but Purls as It Comes and Goes”
“Twilight of the Dogs”
I don’t think Charles Wright pulls off the glib or light-hearted very well, such as when he begins a poems with “A-wop-bob-a-loo-lop a-lop-bam-boo.” I felt a resistance, too, to his using phrases like “haul ass” and “herky-jerky.” It just didn’t seem appropriate for a poet so grave and meditative to grab at chattiness.
I also felt some of the poems didn’t have the punch intended. For example, in the poem “When the Horses Gallop Away from Us, It’s a Good Thing,” I don’t get the feeling anything is being revealed to me. No, in fact it seems kind of banal, alas: I always find it strange - though I shouldn’t - how creatures don’t
care for us the way we care for them.
Horses, for instance, and chipmunks, and any bird you’d name.
Empathy’s only a one-way street.
But when he’s on, he’s very on, as in the poem “Bitter Herbs to Eat, and Dipped in Honey,” which begins -
We lay out our own dark end, / guilt, and the happiness of guilt.
Here’s a link to some of the poems from Blackbird. They are all in the collection except for “Down in the Mines” (at least I do not find this title).