“Weightless in the Nets” Roy Liran (Blue Nib)
The poems in “Weightless in the Nets” are probing observations that explore and ask questions about perceptions and preconceived views of readers. They rely on giving the reader sufficient detail to focus attention and be guided by the poet. A similar approach is taken in the accompanying ink drawings.
“Jan and Neftalí” comes with the note that Pablo Neruda (Neftalí) used Czech poet’s Jan Neruda’s surname as part of his pseudonym in exile. The poem is set in street named after the Czech poet and observes a couple. He tells her he’s written a poem on his phone,
“Walking the cobblestone streets he talks
of Baroque architecture and Art Nouveau,
often examining his prudently folded
map for the metro stations. She watches
the river for white swans and listens.
Or so she tells him.
Love sweeps travelling autumn
leaves through elegant boulevards.
So it is told.
Readers are encouraged to doubt he’s written a poem and that she’s listening to him and think about what they might have done instead. Certainly, they don’t share their thoughts with each other: he doesn’t show her his poem and she doesn’t talk about the swans. The poem implies the couple are withdrawing from each other and their relationship’s autumn is heading towards winter. The theme of what’s not talked about is picked up in “The blindness of the world” where a couple are back in the car after a walk through woods where they “at long last do what had/ forever needed to be done” although the what isn’t specified,
“I recall gripping the steering
wheel hard during one lonely
stretch of the road, when you
raised your head from me to
ask if I was happy, which I
should have been, and lied
And on the long way back to
where you had left your car you
leaned against me and
sang dreamily to the blindness
of the world, and I kept my
face straight, eyes fixed ahead”
After the poem is a note, “Read when no one is listening”. Most of the poems have a similar note. Readers are left to think about why the poem’s narrator lied about being happy and the implications of that lie. The adverb “dreamily” to describe the partner’s singing is a telling detail, showing her ignorance.
It’s either bravery or modesty when a poet starts a poem “Were I a poet” even when the poem’s focus is on what’s not there, in “The delusion of things gone”, where in the opening stanza the rhythm of the wind in the trees echoes the rhythm of the heart,
“But I am not, and the
heart is dead, and trees
are merely trees. And
what is the wind if not
agitated air that moves
away from pressure.
It takes a non-poet to note
that when the sun finally sets
nothing disappears but the light.”
The disappearing light offers a different perspective on the scene. The trees and wind are still there but other senses have to come into play to realise them. The accompanying note is “best read by the sea, which is water” and suggests a reflective mood. An actual reflection is the starting point for “Reflective” where in an oily puddle,
“the liquid light
gave a shiny gleam
to the teeth of
analogy for pain”
It’s a question without a question mark and the directive note is “to be read with a squint in one’s brain.”
“Weightless in the Nets” is a collection of thoughtful, provocative poems, which use an artist’s eye and architect’s focus on key details to guide readers into thinking around the poem’s subjective observations.
Available now from Blue Nib Press. €10.50