Friday, November 30, 2007



Days Poem, by Allen Bramhall
Two Volumes: Volume I, 494 pages; Volume II, 441 pages

(Meritage Press, 2007)

“-- simply finito --“ reads the coda of Allen Bramhall’s Days Poem (all quotation marks in this review will be mine). These two italicized words, with their second pair of dashes hinting at more to follow, are placed, centered and at a remove, below the concluding 412th canto ending with the word “forever” (“we are that river, loving that, forever.”), a word that contradicts, though not with any finality, the word “finito”. The first sentence of the opening canto of Days Poem reads: “dialogue resumes an emphatic tornado, leftover from emphatic excuse.” This poem begins in the middle of words, in the resumption of dialogue as undepicted now as when it began (as emphatic tornado, or ahead of metamorphosis), dialogue whose genesis is emphatically imaginary (an excuse is a cause, an explanation; “excuse” can likewise be defined, explained, as an exemption, a release granted). There are resumptions galore throughout Days Poem: “tornado rests its weary, imaginary bones. there will be violent discussion galore, as people talk.” (from canto 96); “the tornado holds on to what it can, voices being greedy. the landscape crams with ideas, all is well.” (from canto 408); the tornado frequents Days Poem, appearing in cantos before and between 96 and 408. There are resumptions thematic, resumptions of locales, resumptions of historical and previously literary characters
“such time as this, when discussion is what the animal is all about. Tarzan not good with language, says the Ape Man, studying a text called today. everyone is language, averred an expert, standing in for all. Tarzan love Jane, the intrepid Ape Man says, thinking loin clothes and swimming hair. you might one day be abandoned, theorized the expert. Tarzan looked toward the setting sun, thinking of days, for the first time. his civilized life leads on.” (from canto 102)

such as Tarzan, resumptions of unnamed hobos, raccoons, British regulars
“a British regular rests against a tree, possibly wounded, possibly just a picture. we fight for culture, says he, fired up about logical extremes (of which he’s probably one), just like anyone would be.” (from canto 82)

dogs, theorists, bears, and many others, including hippies and poets. There are resumptions of considerations of poetics, considerations which, like the inhabitants and diction of Days Poem, are apt and alluring, as in these selections from cantos 8, 37, 96, 105, 109, 207, 256, 318, 330, and 336:
“poetry grapples with its wants.”

“gesture lasts the day, and that’s how poets work. poets worry, because words get away. what does a poet do anyway? lay in wait.”

“a poem makes a vocal glance.”

“poetry is dead enough to be resisted.”

“poetry just lifts boundless documents, seemingly native and common, into the light. this light bends only as time will allow.”

“writing a poem is work, lifting words from nowhere and placing them somewhere: in context.”

“a poet is a gargantuan figment, a repose in conflict.”

“a poem is a catalogue of energies and how they may be cured. the cure is a closed door or inkling, either way.”

“poetry resumes its place in books, after a hiatus in the world.”

“why shouldn’t poets be funded by exactitude, where the real sentences grow? why can’t we include trails into forests, when we speak of important things? if our named is doubled, then doubled again, shouldn’t we have a right to assail Heliconian heights?”

With its myriad resumptions, in no service to novelistic plot, could Days Poem ever end? Surely the resumptions, the emphases, continue beyond the last page of volume two, just as they continued beyond the last page of volume one. As canto 412 was once unwritten and unread, so canto 814 awaits writing and reading. The prose poems that are the lines of Days Poem admit variation in cantos other than the 412th -- in canto 196 the word “cloud…” is centered amid a vale of space between two elevations of prose poem (they are a bisected stanza/paragraph, or “clouds…” is appended, possibly as a coda, to its preceding paragraph/stanza); sometimes a promontory is the altitude of a sentence or a phrase, and is found between, above, or below paragraphs/stanzas of varying yet comparatively more considerable size; sometimes these isolated sentences or phrases are found in a pair, or a trio, creating verse (in canto 87 there is enjambment from the first line to the second, from the second to the third; design, rather than coincidence, is apparent in this tercet); and sometimes an isolated sentence is justified at the right margin instead of the left margin (such as the truly final print words of Days Poem: “thursday, august 16, 2001, ahb”). The first and fourth of these variations complicate, via their precedence, the finito and the completion date appended to the concluding canto. That Days Poem ends is as imaginary as the resumption of dialogue that begins the poem. Days Poem is an imaginative instant slowed to literary time. The imaginary retains its shape in this poem. I summarize my findings on Days Poem by quoting words from Days Poem, which is what we’ve all been doing day after day because: “this is a sleek exquisite, because we want our words. our words have wanted us for so long.” (from canto 267)


Jeff Harrison has publications from MAG Press, Writers Forum, Persistencia Press, and Furniture Press. He has two e-books at xPress(ed), and one at Blazevox. His poetry has appeared in Otoliths, Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, Moria, Xerography, MiPOesias, Big Bridge, and elsewhere. He has an interview blog with Allen Bramhall called Antic View.


EILEEN said...

Another view is offered by Anny Ballardini in GR #9 at

EILEEN said...

Another view is offered by
Nicholas T. Spatafora in GR #16 at

EILEEN said...

Another view is offered as a "self-review" by Allen Bramhall in GR #25 at