with an empathy so fatal #114, Darren Demaree

Gillian Sargeant, Icon of Severus Snape, 12″ X 9,” acrylic



with an empathy so fatal #114


if you hold on
to your roots

you will drown
in a black
that is unable

to thrust
towards any-
one else’s sun

Darren Demaree


Review by Theodore Worozbyt

Since these two poems appear to be excepts from a larger sequence, I am reluctant to draw conclusions about their relation to one another, especially since, assuming it exists, #113 is missing. But they are both very finely compressed lyrics, and both do their work by way of contraries, if in somewhat different ways. Both are conversant with the elder writers, who are, in this case (at least to my ear), Dickinson and William Carlos Williams, and both these poems, like those of their influences, make complex music in small spaces. Both poems make excellent use of line breaks, creating welcome complexities and ambiguities. Stanza one of #114 would lose at least two of its three steps of meaning if rendered as prose, and the breaking of “any- / one” seems a call for a larger vision that transcends having pieces of the pie, political or otherwise, as the semiotic drift of the economical language seems to invoke the hyphenations of Langston Hughes, which create a division between black and white (marginal spaces) even as they call for a unity.


Review by Andrea Jackson

I like this very much. The thought is, to me, completely original.


Review by Anna Weaver

I admire and envy the cryptic telegraph of poems like this. Like a koan, they taunt us with an image of things we are, things we like, or things we do. Like the best mentors, they reward our efforts to recognize ourselves by slapping our faces with the cold fish of images that are so unlike what we expected. What we take away may vary—a sense of mild rebuke, a shift in perspective—but we all share the moment. The act of having paused to listen.


Review by Claire Scott

Wonderful glimpses of empathy. I like the short lines and the stark simplicity. The first (#112) so echoes what is going on in our country now, “when there’s nothing left/to like.” The last line is wonderfully evocative. Not just baking pies, but cutting “them into pieces” to share with others who also feel estranged. The second (#114) seems darker. I like “you will drown/in a black.” A great description of collapsing inward, maybe in a time of despair. And the importance of thrusting (great word) towards the suns of others. I hope you are writing many of these and will publish a chapbook!


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