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Monday, June 20, 2011

Ren Powell's Mercy: New & Selected Poems

I've been reading and enjoying Ren Powell's, Mercy Island New & Selected Poems. These strange, entrancing and beautiful poems lead us into a world crawling with creatures--cicadas, rhesus monkeys, turtles, baboons, a looming red-eared slider--along with a compelling cast of human characters. These are borderless, luminous creations written by a poet of witness who leads us across continents and states of consciousness with an honesty that is both elusive and accessible. Powell's lens looks straight into the horror of violence and terror, but what she shares with her reader is the resounding reminder that the human spirit is resilient and abiding. These compassionate and truthful poems pull us in and refuse to let us go.


I was born again.

Then I was born again.

He said they found me in a crack

in a rock in the Valley of Fire.

Easter morning

I was a red-eared slider

Peace sign

painted on my shell.

I got a new name

driving through Utah,

obeying all the signs:


for the “crazy escaped Indian”

called Falling Rock.

I was Love—loved

like a Susanna, whispered to sleep

by the elder’s soft, blubbering bong.

I was Love, loved

like the naked little angels of the temple

in Salt Lake City where Mamma said

they baptise the dead.

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