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Review of Not Many Love Poems- Lachlan Mackinnon, Literary Review, Winter 2011
I had looked forward to both thier books, whereas I was unprepared for the greater zing of Linda Chase's Not Many Love Poems. In a love poem 'Corsican Summer', Chase remember that 'Once, driving up a mountain in Corsica,/ you talked about storms in Colorado/ which truend the trees to ice'. Wind made 'the branches craze/ like crystal chandelierss chiming through the night'. After a flat, reportorial opening, the poem lifts a little. Placed at the end of a line, 'craze' works asn an active verb before being made exact. The next line, 'You were a kid in your bed, listening', regrounds it. That 'you' conveys warmth and familiarity. Now, the poet wants to hear the tale again:To the 'Not Many Love Poems' page...
Longing for cold has swamped me
like a huge coat, dragged on the ground.
It's not my coat, my love, and yet
I want each seam- each buttonhole,
the buttons themselves, I want that son
the ice trees sand in the night to a boy.
Here, it's a simile rather thana metaphor that becomes literal. The details of seams and buttons make it actualy. As the poem turns into the last line, it seems to lift off effortlessly. Again and again, Chase's poems have a snappy acuteness. In the first stanza of 'Secret', for instance, she sees:
You, almost fifty, bumming secret cigarettes
and then shoving mints in your mouth
as if you wouldn't get caught.
It's funny; the 'You' is as much exclamation as vocative. In the second stanza,
I see the boy in you.
I want him to kiss the back of my neck.
then turn around and run like hell.
The poet's imagination carries her with it.
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