Sunday, December 5, 2010



Apparition Poems by Adam Fieled
(BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2010)

One is immediately struck by how the design of the book enhances the theme-as-indicated-by-title of Adam Fieled’s Apparition Poems. That is, the front and back covers are all white, and the text of title and author seem formed by shadows rather than ink—the cover is basically a pleasing white-on-white visual art space.

The interior design also enhances the notion of apparitions in that most of the pages are white spaces. The book is sized at (approximately) 7.5 X 9.5” which means many of the short poems take up no more than one-sixth of the page-space.

So. Apparitions. Two of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of the word are (1) “ghostly figure,” and (2) “the act of becoming visible.” Which is all to say, at least for the early part of the book, it seems that the poems are ghosts of what they may have hoped to offer. These early poems are my favorites in the book—I found them luminous, moving, lyrical, among others. But they do seem deliberately—if evocatively—incomplete. Like fragments:
# 1089

I love you,
I love you,
I love you—

clouds are
moving in
behind us,

storms are
forming in
front, blue

sky purple,
green grass
yellow, all

things pale
to this dark—

Or like beginnings:

Poems are train-wrecks
                  that move—to stand
on tracks, to do so solidly, is
                  suicide of the high order—

to die by force of wreckage—

Or thoughts evaporating almost as soon as they were … thought:
# 1069

There comes a time
history’s viability in
impressing us goes

out our mind’s eye,
we are ghosts then,
we join the “rest of,”

until someone’s lips
hips us to secrets, in
case we forgot, that

nothing ever happed,
nothing ever got writ.

Positions (bodies?) become (narratively) clearer about a third-way into the book. And so I came to realize that the apparition here isn’t (just) the form of (some of) the poems. There’s a presence (persona) flitting through the pages which remains just out-of-sight to be mysterious; the non-dead author has definite opinions. The author’s self-awareness and keen observations, however, often manifest themselves in wit or dry humor, thus avoiding the unpleasantness of didacticism:
# 1573

This guy thinks he knows
what’s really real, writes a
book, I do the same thing:
but whoever says this is in
a chain of unreality which
reality will quickly undo: I
know whoever says this is
lost in a maze of illusions,
which must be stymied: it’s
something you only say if
you’re deluded; but then it
means you know you’re in
a maze of delusions, which
is what’s really real: a bitch.

Or, at one point there were several sex-related poems presented near enough each other that as one reads through the book, one could get irritated (as I did), only to end up at
# 1249

Despite what I write, there’s
not much sex in the world—
walk down Walnut Street,
take an inventory—how
much sex are these people
getting? This one fat, this
one ugly, this one old, this
one a baby, a couple married
twenty years, or ten, or five—
not much sex in these lives.
But media, movies thrive’
on representing this tiny
demographic: single, young,
promiscuous. Crowds come.

What a hoot! There’s certainly enough playfulness in the book to elicit cheer.

Ultimately, though, Fieled but gets back to the basics:
# 1480

How horrendous, to realize there
are people in the world with no
soul, walking zeros, hollow spaces,
dead end interiors, permanently
frozen faculties, how horrendous
to watch how they borrow words
of others to sound profound, but
each echo reveals there’s nothing
behind it but the kind of charred
silence that comes after a corpse
is burnt—how horrendous, how
it makes some of us cling to what
we feel, how we feel, that we feel,
and that everything we feel is so
precious, specifically (and only)
because it is felt, and stays felt.

The problem, of course, is that it takes two to tangle:

Do you
know I

tried to
reach, I

did, but
you’re a

far away
planet, I

can’t, its
rings all

around, I
can’t see

surface, I
want to,

can you

orbits for me


But if the poems are all gestures towards connections that may never occur, what is the stance with which one might react to such apparitions? Well, it could be the following poem—unembodied, but still optimistic:

Words are spirits,
words wording
through us like
savored pulp.
Words, strained
or comatose,
plucking laurel
for some lucky
fuck. Substantive
spirit words, cored &
pitted, wait to be bit
like knowledge of
good & evil, stems.
Not a cask or a flask—
Some vessel from
nether regions of
Venus. Easy to be
dispirited, cored,
yet stem systems are
permanent. Say them.


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects, but she is pleased to point you elsewhere to reviews of her books. Her newest book THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems & New (1998-2010) is reviewed by Amazon top-notch reviewer Grady Harp over HERE, William Allegrezza over at p-ramblings HERE and by Leny M. Strobel at Moria Poetry HERE. Mr. Harp also reviews her NOTA BENE EISWEIN over HERE. If the former book gets you curious, please note that its publisher Marsh Hawk Press is supporting a fundraiser for Haiti relief by giving a free copy if you order at least $15 worth of booklets through the Hay(na)ku for Haiti fundraiser; as THE THORN ROSARY is priced retail at $19.95, this is one of the best bargains in the poetry world, even as it helps out with a Haiti fundraiser.


EILEEN said...

Another view is offered by John Bloomberg-Rissman in GR #21 at

EILEEN said...

Another view is offered by John Bloomberg-Rissman in GR #21 at