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The Opera of Trees by Joseph Brinson

The Opera of Trees

by Joseph Brinson

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Later in life
When our bodies will evict us in stages

This poet takes his beautiful humanity and rubs into it some of the extremes of life. This is poetry of the bewildered but acceptant sufferer; the awed and sensuous lover; the pained but curious death-philosopher.

I have wings
That only take me
To flames.

The poet is lost in a mad world.

I dreamed of my brother
Dreaming of a porpoise
But the porpoise didn't know it was a dream

The strength of these poems is in the wild, crazy carnival of language. Sometimes it is playful, more often it's painful. It is nearly always vivid and seductive.

It is

Its emotion is harsh and raw, and the imagery is full of mad colour, often vicious. Sometimes abstract and strange, sometimes simple and real.

Canned laughter in an empty room
A ticking Rolex keeping correct time
On the wrist of a dead man.

The strength of these poems is not in structure and form. Sometimes the rhythm is held up, and the breathing patterns falter. Things generally don't go the way of the breathtakingly inevitable. This isn't music - but it is a heartbreak-song. The poems are not consistently brilliant; the brilliance comes in flashes - but what a flash! I have been seduced by language.

I call you my coffin
I could curl up inside of you
And die.
( )
6 vote ChocolateMuse | May 2, 2013 |
I hope Joseph Brinson, author of The Opera of Trees, is the energetic embellisher, black comic artist, creative and crafty confabulator, as his poetry would seem to indicate, and that he takes great poetic license with his predominantly first person narrators who haunt the grotesque and uncomfortably honest sometimes, lines of his dark poetry.

"I hope I don't die / During the end of the world / I would hate to enter the afterlife / At the same time with billions of other people / You know I hate crowds".

I hope that smirking poem above (one of the rare "lighter" ones, and it's called "I Hope" coincidentally, one of my favorite ironic pieces from the book) is more about who Joseph Brinson truly is as a person rather than this:

"Joey, do you ever smile? / You used to smile a lot in high school," the opening line from "Smile".

I know it's at worst dangerous and in the least inappropriate to conflate a work's narrator and p.o.v. with its author and vice versa; imagine if Bret Easton Ellis' readers took Patrick Bateman of American Psycho infamy to literally be Bret Easton Ellis in the flesh, how outrageous a charge that would be! -- but the exceedingly Rimbaudian and Baudelarian despair displayed in Jospeh Brinson's bleak (though beautifully bleak it is) poetry, makes me queasy when I consider what could be the possible sources of its inspiration, knowing that how he's fashioned some of these topics on the page make them at least appear far too personal to have been pulled completely out of imaginary air -- specifically the particulars on addiction, mental illness, existentialism, loneliness, or in other words, the varied hells of unhappiness inhabiting the occupants of Brinson's poems.

Some addicts, the more transparent ones, like the ones Joseph Brinson documents in The Opera of Trees, when they're lucid, will admit they'd like to quit using, yet say with straight faces, "I am not looking to get clean," as one such addict admits in "Honesty"; an addict who knows also at some level he wants to be happier and healthier, but "I am not looking to get rational." And that's the tragic irrational logic stripped naked, of one willfully blinded by their addictions, and it's very reminiscent of the poetic lines and twisted reasoning of the characters in one of the more authentic fictional treatments on addicts ever penned, Denis Johnson's, Jesus' Son: Stories. In "Where I Live," Brinson reduces the addict-narrator's life to a checklist, one in which "reality" is rarely checked off. More realistic still, and yet bringing some seriously needed humorous levity to what would otherwise risk becoming major depression, is the outrageous resolution made by the addict in "New Year's Resolution":

"I promise to do more recreational drugs / And less prescription drugs".

Pardon me while I ruefully yet robustly laugh.

I think Joseph Brinson is at his finest in his more diminutive pieces where he showcases his extraordinary gifts of dialectical wit and sharp psychological insights. The longer poems, I felt, lacked some of the immediacy and cleverness of the harder hitting, edgier, single-page poems. The most notable exception being, of course, the three-part centerpiece of the book, "The Opera of Trees," a phantasmagorical melting pot of striking imagery and contradictory ideas that culminate in a climactic paradox on entrapment and identity that rivals in evocative intensity "Hotel California's" iconic last couplet. ( )
8 vote EnriqueFreeque | Dec 23, 2011 |
“The Opera of Trees” by Joseph Brinson is a beautifully poetic, sad, disturbing, and - at times - comical read.

I loved reading this book and will do so several times. I initially worked through the book in segments because of its depth and my desire to take time to digest, absorb and truly appreciate the beauty of it. I literally felt the emotions of the author spilling out onto the pages – the hurt, sadness, pain, bliss and love. The images of beautiful things, places, and people that were brought to life in my mind by the author were indescribably real.

I find this author to be a deep, intelligent, troubled and artistic soul. Through this work he was able to paint pictures with his words that conjured images of beauty in what one would normally consider dark, ugly and troubling places, people and things. He is truly an inspirational author, poet and artist. ( )
3 vote Chakras7 | Dec 5, 2011 |
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Conditioned to ecstasy, the poet is like a gorgeous unknown bird mired in the ashes of thought. - Henry Miller
Of course, for Christine.
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I am the rebel native / Bruised, bloodied / Stricken, broken
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