Narcissus Unfolding, Jim Nason, Poetry, ISBN 978-1-897181-48-5, 80 pages, Paperback, 6″ x 9″, $15.95
“Visceral, erotic, tender, accurate: this poet’s uncompromising gaze, ‘from beneath all that love and lace’ touches body and soul, interior and exterior, urban landscape and wilderness shore, ‘threading through concrete and light.’ From the ‘glossy green tile’ of Union Station ‘(twenty doors open at once)’ to Lake Huron’s ‘green-grey rowel of water/and foam,’ Jim Nason’s Narcissus Unfolding carries its imprint of human presence – the struggle to love, the need for redemption – even as it recognizes animal forms, ‘As if I were the imagined thing.’ This voice knows us, inside and out, from the erotic gaze of the male for the male to ‘the drawn-out stutter of a radiant heart.’ ‘To be a girl,’ Nason writes elsewhere, ‘…a man/like a man able to love.‘” —E. Alex Pierce
“By now you have given your eyes/ to the window,” writes Jim Nason of a sleepless night. But throughout this wonderful collection, Nason’s clear-eyed gaze is searing, his perceptions of the natural world and the human startling. His natural musicality combines with the honesty of his poems to bring us closer to our wishes, failings, emotional truths (“I want teacher to love me”; “the terrible flaw/ of your father’s hand/ bruising her face”). Narcissus Unfolding gives us poems of presence in a troubling world, engagement with others, a special brilliance in capturing nature in the city and in the country, and the unsparing focus of an accomplished poet.” —Maureen Hynes
It was the laneway in January that frightened me most;
the reaching-out branches of lifeless trees; murmurings
of the all night streetcar; the one or two people walking
through the dark and the snow stirring: all as it should be
when you have something to hide. It was the cold, grey
clouds; and framed in a square of light, it was the man
in the second floor window yelling at someone
I could not see. It was the way his fists pounded
the air and his shirt was off, thrown over the back
of a chair; the man was lean, pounding and pointing.
It felt as if the someone was me. It was the falling,
darkness and falling, the time-crested glow
of the moon reflected in a sheet of ice
and the thud that I heard was me
on my side looking up through the cold.
It was the light gone from the window
and silence except for the low-anger streetcar.
It was the upside down naked-with-trees laneway
at night, and I wanted to pull the ice like a blue-black
blanket over my legs and fall asleep because sometimes
sleep is vertigo, the drawn-out stutter of a radiant heart,
the shifting plates of darkness.
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