Home » Newpages Blog » The Goodbye Town

The Goodbye Town

Timothy O’Keefe’s The Goodbye Town is brimming with small, intricate images, stacked piecemeal upon one another to create the brilliant and sensuous world of each individual poem. Space is not only put to remarkable use by the poet in a structural sense, but is a complex recurrent theme as well. The occupation of space and—conversely—absence, are ever-present throughout O’Keefe’s work. The poems’ people are shadows and outlines or fleeting memories captivated only by the noises they produce.

Timothy O’Keefe’s The Goodbye Town is brimming with small, intricate images, stacked piecemeal upon one another to create the brilliant and sensuous world of each individual poem. Space is not only put to remarkable use by the poet in a structural sense, but is a complex recurrent theme as well. The occupation of space and—conversely—absence, are ever-present throughout O’Keefe’s work. The poems’ people are shadows and outlines or fleeting memories captivated only by the noises they produce.

In “Meditation in Red, Blue, and Violet” O’Keefe writes, “We’re kept alive / by the spaces we’ve fled / like the reversed ridge of a spine / in the couch cushions,” and in “Little Understanding,” “some mauve-and-butterflied space of youth / now soured with rye, a humdrum faith, / an abscessed tooth.” More often than not O’Keefe’s speaker feels completely inaccessible to us as he describes the absence he personifies.

O’Keefe alternates between longer and more staccato phrases, exuding the coldness that leaves the reader at a distance from the speaker. The poet weaves his stories through parataxis; rather than flow across the page, they chop like a blade; no word ever feels superfluous. The Goodbye Town paints an image of fleetingness and disillusionment relying heavily on the engagement of the senses, particularly auditory. “The trouble with memory / is that it’s always / today,” writes O’Keefe, which speaks to this marvelous collection’s attempts to come to terms with the past, the perpetual goodbyes of life.

Spread the word!