Up from the desk
at which I have been sitting at a screen
eviscerating my life, I walk out
onto the driveway into November’s stainless silence.
Across the street, a boy chases a dog
along a sidewalk edged with black gum trees,
each scarlet leaf a luminous fire,
as though the trees are rooting for us humans,
Review by William Dolben
With “stainless” sound, Shireson delivers the impossibility of writing and of not writing. We walk with the author out into November, find beauty, uncommon ground in the poem’s final stanza — “each scarlet leaf a luminous fire/as though the trees are rooting for us humans/despite everything” — we bring our own feelings about the gum tree, its colorful fire. Many of us struggle to associate changing leaves with anything other than death. Going forward, when I see a “dying” tree, I will remember this poem — many small moments will be lighter, more optimistic. The ability to shift perspective is one of great poetry’s greatest gifts.
Review by Robert Nisbet
These are three quite simple poems, but I really like the most enjoyable and effective way they work as a series of three variations on a traditional theme.
The theme is that of a slightly mundane (but in Peter’s case an often very enjoyable) day-to-day reality set against the hugeness of the natural world. It is closest to the traditional model in his second poem, “Fall”, when the poet is turning away from the computer screen which is “eviscerating (his) life”. The poet turns for relief to the lovely world (deftly etched in with a few strokes) of the boy, the dog, the trees, but best of all the reflection that these trees are “rooting for us humans / despite everything”.
Review by Massimo Fantuzzi
Eviscerating, ex-viscera, searching, degutting, pouring out, repeat. After all that trouble, we surface on the place across, where in stark contrast, life seems to have come to a perfect still: in display, one of the most limpid images which, like every successful and inspired image, has required very few brush strokes.
A boy and a dog, creatures both animated by innocence and purity of spirit, one chasing the other, the other chasing something that is out of the picture, outside the snow globe, probably unattainable; then the writer chasing the viscera of his life, then us, joining the party chasing his thoughts on the page.
November trees, fencing posts that share our deciduous approach to life, are spectators of this street chain of events, benignly standing as they begin to shut down for their winter sleep, knowing that most likely the same scene awaits them when they wake up in the spring.
A perfect tale of November, of travels without movements. November, for the Catholics, month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, being Purgatory that place in-between of purification and filleting.