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Anvil, Clock & Last: Poems

by Paulette Roeske

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Like the seismic shifts and explosions that reveal hidden features of the earth, Paulette Roeske's poems record upheavals and jolts of self-knowledge in the seeming-solid world where we hammer out our lives. The labor of poetic creation cracks open the self: "How could I have guessed the geode's / rare concentrics, its brilliant sharp-toothed crystals / . . . It was hope that returned me to the hammer / to lay open the bright interiors / I could have overlooked". Readers will find that hope rewarded as the poet wields the tools of time and legacy -- anvil, clock, and last -- to craft meticulous verses yielding glittering insight.The clock is omnipresent in this collection, signaling the exquisite tension between the desire to erase the past and the urge to devour all experience. A father's legacy to a daughter is inescapable: "He's left his mark on everything / time filtered through his hands. He's left / it all to me". But Roeske's rare intensity and depth of thought produce poems of mortality and loss balanced by the unexpected appearance of love. After guiding us through the hard forging of a self, the poet places us on the "platform, springboard, raft, or tippy boat", urging us to see love, like all life's experiences, as "a place to fling yourself into", eyes open, fingers crossed.… (more)
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Like the seismic shifts and explosions that reveal hidden features of the earth, Paulette Roeske's poems record upheavals and jolts of self-knowledge in the seeming-solid world where we hammer out our lives. The labor of poetic creation cracks open the self: "How could I have guessed the geode's / rare concentrics, its brilliant sharp-toothed crystals / . . . It was hope that returned me to the hammer / to lay open the bright interiors / I could have overlooked". Readers will find that hope rewarded as the poet wields the tools of time and legacy -- anvil, clock, and last -- to craft meticulous verses yielding glittering insight.The clock is omnipresent in this collection, signaling the exquisite tension between the desire to erase the past and the urge to devour all experience. A father's legacy to a daughter is inescapable: "He's left his mark on everything / time filtered through his hands. He's left / it all to me". But Roeske's rare intensity and depth of thought produce poems of mortality and loss balanced by the unexpected appearance of love. After guiding us through the hard forging of a self, the poet places us on the "platform, springboard, raft, or tippy boat", urging us to see love, like all life's experiences, as "a place to fling yourself into", eyes open, fingers crossed.

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