Friday, December 9, 2016



Abandoned Angel: New Poems by Burt Kimmelman
(Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2016)

Perhaps this is the first poetry collection about which I can say that its reading experience leaves me in peace. I read the book the first time in one sitting, chronologically, and for that time was taken away from the freneticism of my day. I ended the book refreshed, rested. The effect came from such lovely images of stillness, like this:

Sandy’s Basho in America
—after reading Sander Zulauf’s haikus

Modest and true words,
they are more than the poet—
wet stone in moonlight.

The poetry’s moments are so pure, seemingly simple but resonant

Late Morning
—Susan Bee’s Garden of Delights

Sky and road—
sun, cloud and trees—
we hold hands.

I wonder if the middle stanza of “The Luxury of Time” works as an ars poetica for (much of) the collection—

Why imitate the sun
when earth’s white ceramic
pastures lay there before
them—idyls with satyrs
at rest—or a flower
exquisitely jeweled.

—for it seems to me that so much of the effectiveness of Kimmelman’s poetry rests on his exceedingly fine powers of observation. Yet I don't mean to say the quality in his poems are merely of observance; the eyes of his poems also seem very attuned to what's sighted.

I’ve long enjoyed Kimmelman’s poetry—he got me at the first poem I read and following his work for the subsequent years has been a blessing. I find my admiration interesting as his is the type of poetry so far from my maximalist tendencies. But I find myself susceptible to his poems’ brevity and balance—quite often, they articulate light.  Light, at least based on my practice and my read of others, is not easy to capture through words. Here’s one:

Early November Light
            Maplewood, New Jersey

Red leaves
the start

of light


the limbs
of trees

leap to

the street—

how not
to be


Did I say light? But he also captures so well the dark!—e.g., “we / eat the night’s stars” from “Commute”—as he should for one surely cannot exist without the other.

At this point, I’d say Burt Kimmelman—who’s published 17 books of poetry and criticism—is writing at the top of his game. I suggest reading everything he releases to the world. I leave you with the ending of “The World at Dawn,” a poem that left me on the brink of tears:

…The word

world is so
for poets—

some knew it
was a word.
Stevens, Bronk

and Oppen,
Creeley are
all gone. They

thought about
words. They knew
how very

words are. Their
words are mine.

I lie still
and I say
that the world,

its light, is
out “there,” and
I want it.


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor (the exception would be books that focus on other poets as well).  She is pleased, though, to point you elsewhere to recent reviews of her work: THE CONNOISSEUR OF ALLEYS was reviewed by Joey Madia for New Mystics Reviews, Book Masons and Literary Aficionado; and EXCAVATING THE FILIPINO IN ME was reviewed by Aileen Ibardaloza for "Filipina American Literature: Reading Recommendations" (Barbara Jane Reyes Blog). She released three books and two chaps in 2016, and is scheduled to release at least three publications in 2017. More info at

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