Magazine article World Literature Today

A Prayer in a Wolf's Mouth: Poems 2013-2014

Magazine article World Literature Today

A Prayer in a Wolf's Mouth: Poems 2013-2014

Article excerpt

Richard Milazzo. A Prayer in a Wolf's Mouth: Poems 2013-2014. Turin. Lower Canal Books. 2014. isbn 9788890538544

-. Like Branches to Wind: Poems 2008. Turin. Lower Canal Books. 2014. isbn 9788890538551

Richard Milazzo is a prominent international art curator and critic who has written over twenty art books and has published eighteen volumes of poetry. In his world travels since 1993 he has often written his poems in far-flung hotels, reflecting an antigrail quest, a reluctant yet passionate determination to see the numinous in every creature and feature of this world. A Prayer in a Wolf's Mouth is, in the author's words, " orientated toward India" after his recent trip there, though much of it was written in Europe. The poem "Seriously" makes the backward case that gods cannot exist without us, can only live and breathe and think with our hearts, lungs, and brains: "show me the eye / that does not rain, snow that does not return // to the mouth of the desert, a mouth of briers, / the pleading mouth of the thorn bush! / And what poet worth his salt believes that any god / "'might live, move, be'" without our being, // take a breath, breathe a single word without us ... / Oh, yes, indeed, the Cretan poet, Epimenides, / that old Sicilian, Aratus, and that prophet of prisons who will set me free / by adjusting my head during my golf swing!"

The poetry in this volume is full of such sudden shocks of irony as with the metaphysics of a golf swing. In "Catherine Deneuve," the narrator assumes the persona of an old director sitting at a sidewalk café below the actress's apartment, imagining himself as an extra in the cinema of her glamorous life, though feeling his intimacy might qualify him to be her Hitchcock. In the antistrophe, Deneuve is a reciprocal voyeur as she looks down on that narrator and pins her continuing relevance on his presence. The juxtaposition captures the intimacies within separation and loneliness, as both narrators couch their roles as reflecting the very vibrance of Paris.

Meditations often merge with eloquent, hot irony into the political and the journalistic shock of "if it bleeds, it leads." In "Orcagna's Folly and Cellini's Pillow," his commentary on the bloodthirstiness of the famous sculptures overlooking Piazza della Signoria segues into the modern entropy of our human upper crust as it opposes the tough hoi polloi: "indeed, no woman (or man, for that matter) could pass / without the imminent threat of rape or some form of violence - / celebrated in bronze and marble, //. …

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