Published twice a year, Cave Wall is dedicated to publishing the best contemporary poetry it can get its hands on. This family-run magazine is based out of Greensboro, North Carolina. I was fortunate enough to attend a reading where Editor Rhett Iseman Trull read her own poetry and participated in a Q & A. She was down to earth and intriguing, just like this edition of Cave Wall. The issue includes black and white art by Dan Rhett that compliments the poetry very well.
A poem by Matthew Thorburn exemplifies some of the best imagery I have ever come across. “A Fukuoka Wedding” contemplates a wedding and the people who are celebrating. Even though the readers are not in attendance, they can see and hear as if they are sitting in the pews.
She floated by in her shiro-maku—
so many rustly, puffy layers. So many
shades of white. Silver-white cranes glide
across a snowy field, or so it seemed
in that particular light. . . .
Even the choice of using italics gives the impression of words gliding across the page. Through Thorburn’s specific description, I was able to create the event, people, and attire. However, I felt like an outsider, a stranger who wasn’t even invited to show up to the wedding. Smartly, the narrator was also an outsider:
But the ceremony
took place in the dark
wooden shrine, where we weren’t allowed
to go—”ONLY FAMILY”—so we
watched them walk in, then stood
on the gravel path: hands in pockets, ticking
watches, talking and sweating.
Rather than becoming the narrator and identifying with the narrator on a more personal level, Thorburn allows the reader to watch as the events unfold.
Tory Adiksson takes a different approach in his poem “Anecdote of the Rabbit.” The narrator is a young child whose mother hits a rabbit with her car while they are driving late at night. I have always been sensitive to people hitting squirrels while driving and stepping on ants for fun. Before reading this poem, I thought I was the only one not desensitized to the value of animal life. Adiksson comments on the subject, and her opinion almost seems to chastise the human race. The second stanza is riveting:
After all, it was summer. No time for grieving.
Later, barbecuing, she’d daub
chicken thighs & pork shoulders
with marinade like a ceramicist
applying glaze. We’d sit at the table,
waiting for her to arrange meat & vegetables
on plates, setting them before us.
We didn’t acknowledge
anything: what happened after we hit the rabbit
was fiction: the stories we tell ourselves
over & over to keep the guilt in our bodies
from stirring, not even for a minute.
Our everyday lives have become the ultimate importance, and how we affect others can take the backseat. The mother has no remorse and no visual guilt for killing the rabbit. There are many different theories on how we as a race have become detached from the rest of the living life on our planet (for example, the media), but we bury our heinous acts under barbecues and routine.
Dan Albergotti writes a poem to a woman called “What I Wanted to Tell Her about Hell.” Through his description, she is clearly gorgeous, yet also an icy princess that spurned him in the past.
You would adapt, you know. And then (why not?) do well
down there amidst the brimstone, fire, and ash. You’re hot, my dear.
You’d rule that damned scene. Your ass could make Satan quake with fear,
each breast could strike ten minor demons dumb, those lips
that formed goodbye (my own apocalypse)
By the end of the poem, Albergotti is not subtle with his feelings for the woman and tells her to “Go there” (to hell). He built a clever little poem that was short and to the point. Sometimes I find it refreshing to just sit down and enjoy a piece of poetry that does not lead me down a dozen roads open to vague interpretation. Cave Wall certainly excelled in presenting me with a variety of writing that commanded my attention.