Thursday, November 3, 2011

Light on the Concrete (a collection of poems) by Lucas Hunt

Admittedly, poetry does not get its fair share of the spotlight here at TLM, which we attribute almost exclusively to our shameful, collective ignorance on the subject. It’s true that we did express an enduring admiration for Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself a few months back—seriously, though, who doesn’t love Uncle Walt? And we even picked up a collection or two from the comments to that post (thanks again for pointing me to I Wish I Had a Heart Like Yours, Walt Whitman—it was excellent). But that is quite literally the only poetry-related post that you will find in the archives of TLM. Until now. Hopefully, this post will even the score a bit.

Light on the Concrete is the second volume of poetry from Lucas Hunt. His first, Lives, was released in 2006 to critical acclaim. Light on the Concrete has also received accolades for its treatment of every day subjects, which Hunt’s precise and beautiful language infuses with feeling that we all recognize and share, though only when it is pointed out to us. What do we mean? Well, look here …

The Mississippi Steams

When massive steel blades
thunder to break
solid sheets of ice
that turned pavement
into frozen rivers,
birds search the wreckage
of scoop shovel and tire track
to find small grains
of nourishment.
This is it—
a time to arrest
action on the earth,
a freeze on disking,
planting and harvesting,
enforced idleness
in the womblike place
that nurtures
seeds into food.
Winter ground
gets back what is taken
by crops galore,
by hungry thieves
of the treasure
under road, snow and foot.

For anyone that has spent any time in the rural Northeast or Midwest, it is the snowplow that marks the true changing of the seasons, when all of summer’s pleasures and fall’s anxieties are put away as life enters survival mode and a low-level collective dreaming. And the image of a small flock of chickadees pecking over the upturned mix of earth and ice and snow makes me, for one, feel like I am a ten-year old boy standing at the end of a dirt drive in rural Western New York, waiting for the school bus as the sun rises behind a wall of cloud cover that will last until spring.

Light on the Concrete is full of such moments, commonplace and too often overlooked, but beautiful when frozen in time. Despite my ignorance of the intricacies or even the mechanics of poetry, I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable collection. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Lucas Hunt has graciously agreed to put together TLM’s first-ever guest post, addressing, among other issues, the importance of an appreciation of poetry to a literate man.  Stay tuned ...