Apocalyptics by C. Derick Varn
Unlikely Books, February 2018
102 pages / Amazon
Apocalyptics follows a trail to the human heart, lined with broken oak, willow and orchids, to a favorite creek, a place you can rest your eyes. Parceled with a Faulknarian edge, the book self-consciously questions the function of language and syntax as affective to and effective of what one’s sees or feels and tests the confessional capacity for sensory and emotional reiteration.
Break in with the I / and cut to the you / with all its invariable / slippage, new
/ like monsoon / mud smears on / pants legs. / There is you— /
the you that / poem chats / with idly. / You breaking / new fragments.
/ Again, the I. / The utterance…
—“The Floodgates, of the Pronoun”
“I” and “You”, the generic titles of vanity and judgement that one uses to describe oneself upon a mood or one’s stand on things, or oneself and one’s relations, “I” and “You” betrayers of one’s position in the world. The poems in Apocalyptics are colored very subjectively and intimately, nothing general about them and this is intentional. The poems are warm, emotional, sensual, immediate, lyric, concerned and succinct, never blind, speaking through tilts and camera-like movements of vantage point. In Apolcalypitcs C. Derick Varn offers a sharp lens that one can accept or refuse but not deny.
Q: What is justification? / A: The vixen breathes heavy
with matted fur in the spring rain, dross hanging about her head in the dusk.
Even love poems have their violence… / bed pressing on our thighs, indenting and /
scraping the skin until our droplets / (stanza)
/ half-mingled from the rash we / mutually granted ourselves. Sleeping… / until / (stanza)
/ my stomach knotted into something / akin to a heart. The scent of oak…
but for now mixing our blood…
—“Like a Pasolini Film”
Sequenced as if filmed, with paced sensations, the poems feel like a modernist motion picture with a new-wave hero beating his head against the timeless question of form against circumstance, almost anachronistically lyric if we travel further back to the descriptive power of Scott Fitzgerald, in the wistful dust of dreams. In Apocalyptics, what is felt, seen and sensed is as sharp as should, evanescent like vapor if not captured, no other possible value to be found. The poems pulse with blood and the scenes are spliced quickly or tested through long takes: a definition or description becomes a panoramic, close-up, or self-portrait, line breaks become pictures, fades, takes on frames-per-second and of course confessions and accusations through the forever pronoun problem.
Bridge (brig) n.
1. Any structure of wood, stone, brick, or iron raised to afford
convenient passage over a river, pond, lake, railroad, ravine, or
any other obstacle.
Panoramic: the beach bleeds
gray: sky, gray. Sand, gray. Water,
gray. Yet zooming
inward. the surf…
—“Sometimes Gray Bodies”
The poems record light and incandesce through swaddling leaves projected on tables, walls, and objects; they shape memory, visually first in the subconscious wafer of cameras, the water of cinema, photographs, the dry metallics of wit, and then with poetry, the concise song of words, to give a chemistry to memory.
The / present is a husk, kept / empty so that anything / can break like a fissure /
in a dream light endowed / Slate roofs cast a silver / (stanza)
/ hue which is ironic in / utter darkness of closed /
eyes, enigmatic is the syntax / of light- the pinpricks that /
pock dark softening… Bring me a small / detail. Bring me bright.
—“Variations on the Scrawl of Light”
The book charms in its descriptive presence almost drawn in chiaroscuro, or through a pinhole camera. These poems dare to confess, seek and ask. Why roots, where do they come from? Simples question you may ask yourself during a walk that could, with this poet’s eye, turn into a dynamic language and syntax of introspection reflected in the sensual world, light evanescing to dusk while you are sipping your favorite bourbon, somewhere in these throws, secretly relishing your privacy as the wind tickles you and brings out memories from under your skin, through the scent of your beverage, moving you beyond the crude and into mystery.
Like the flutter of birds against fir needles
when a tiger mauls a hunter against a backdrop
of monochrome snow. Like the wheels of a bicycle
spinning, spinning while the rider cannot stop
without plowing deep into the pavement. Like
an orchid blooming on demand, out of sync
with its season, petals half wilted. Like night’s
heavy winds that rip down branches and pull kinks
out of matted hair. Like the hoarse moans of coeds
fucking so hard the stereo cannot muffle each
breath. Like a picked-over crab left dead
and in high-tide sand as the beach
recedes into the ocean. Like cauliflower
molded. Like touching ice. Like waiting hours.
—“Similes Against Sex”
Darryl Wawa is a Miamian raised the first half of his life in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, born 09/16/1987, and obsessed with words, images and their paring. He is a poet and a photographer and some of his work is available on his website www.darrylwawa.com. He takes pleasure in reviewing his peers, and likes where poetry is going.