John Godfrey, Private Lemonade, 2003, Adventures in Poetry
“the azure is shatterproof”
Ruminations on time, place, body, memory, and the intersections of these at particular instances.
The lines in the book are like a metal grating through which thought and sense pour. They are mostly paired-down to single word and two-word movements, a condensed economy of vocabulary, like Eigner, but heavier.
"some/ sunset / thing / Cocktail / fill / moves / three / blind / mice"
Crypto-amorous mood-thought assemblages.
These poems have an certain force of generosity, in that one can feel in them the assumption that the reader is capable of intimacy and complexity, as well as the assumption that the reader is capable of being curious, and of understanding. Godfrey is not selling any of this.
At moments, it feels like a memory of lost love overstepping the proprieties of immediate perception.
Rhythms like: mood / environmental detail / thought / atmospherics / object relation / dream / attachment / social observation / proposition / relaxation / visual observation -- a swing pulse of transient consciousness and transitory existence.
"Print of rattan on your calf / Succinct and nearly cruel"
Sparse, staccato, percussive paratactic line groupings, harmonized with thematic scaffolding.
Constant change-ups between sensation and memory.
Complex mediations which are cerebral and tactile.
Concision and the refusal to encapsulate.
A herringbone pattern of hinting/hiding/saying.
Little bits of personality, personal history, and environment fused together into some other substance that isn’t any one of these things.
Commentary on people, and, more so, people’s situations. A nurse’s-eye view? Observing symptoms?
The physical feeling of Godfrey's line produces a certain buzz, “I have always had here with me here.”
The lines always feel like parts of information, never abstract. Though sometimes inscrutable, the poems are never trying to be mysterious.
Particular, bodily instances, “sweat under sweater”
In the midst of a highly disciplined paratactic linguistic space, Godfrey sometimes drops dauntingly perfect-sounding transitive sentences: “Night briefly unwraps / inevitable hallways”
Self-locating images: “Holiday lights reflects you / on windowglass / at bar's end”
Staccato associational fluency.
Overlapping layers of weather, setting, mood and memory are temporarily allowed to eclipse other things in the space of the poem -- they are given a social space via the poem where they would otherwise only exist in a private burst of neuron firings.
An undertow of unrelieved amorous distance.
Sometimes I feel he is withholding too much. But withholding too much is part of his art.
The poems are short and pleasurable, and also demanding.
Complex mixtures of back-story and proposition in particulate form.
"Shorten my shrift / Expunge the retinal soup // Without cunning, with posture / Let alone a fallow lie"
“Time hangs in braids”
Playfulness set against elegy.