Friday, April 12, 2013
BPR LIT TRIP 12 with Daniel Anderson
“Someone is Burning Leaves” by Daniel Anderson is a good ol’ boys paean and funny kind of love poem among men who haven’t seen each other in a long time. For today’s journey in the Birmingham Poetry Review volume 40, the Steiny Road Poet picks this free verse poem of memory set down in four stanzas of variable line count because it smacks of Proust and his madeleine—“That childhood we survived/ Diminishes with every year/ And smells this very night/ Like someone somewhere burning leaves”—while fending off that label of love that crosses the line—“We love you, Danny Anderson./Now, we’re not gay or anything like that,/ It’s just, we love you, baby, you be safe.” It’s safe to say the narrator is the author of the poem.
Anderson’s voice as narrator sounds aged as the poem unfolds with each and every line beginning with a capitalized word in the old poetic tradition. The opening lines show self-conscious repetitive obsession that names trees as if the narrator’s life depended on it:
This season I admire most,
This season I sometimes obsess about,
Goes up in muted gorgeous flame,
Hornbeam and leatherwood, locust and larch,
The frosty lacebark elm and mountain silverbell combust
The re-connection with Jeffrey Day, a school buddy who was thought to be dead or in prison, sends the narrator into a spate of colloquial language meant to recapture the old school days, “He had two houses and a boat,/ A Jet Ski and a kick-ass pickup truck./ A couple DUIs and, shit,/ He’s lost it, lost it all./ But Jeffrey Day could play some ball!” Later in the poem, Jeffrey cold-cocks their schoolmate and presumable friend Kenny Ambrose.
Use of italics shows the real time conversation of the old friends. Comments like “That’s right. The boy could play some ball!” or “Remember that!” or “Yes, Jeffrey Day, we love you, too” come across like a chorus of old men thankful to be alive.