Flarestack Poetry, 2006 - £3.00
Ah, the intoxication of language. How it can lead you up the purple path if you let it, as Donna Pucciani sometimes does. Take ‘Zoo Gorilla’, for instance:
Your Congo eyes swim midnight,
lapping your corrugated brow.
My suburban blues wade out to meet you,
wash your matted chest in cerulean gaze.
In other words, ‘woman looks at gorilla’. There’s lush, and there’s choked, and I know which this is.
Most of the time though, she keeps her habit under control, and is clearly a fine poet, though prone to some of our collective faults. Arresting images abound throughout the collection. In ‘The Beginning of Rain’ “bruised clouds bound like spaniels/ in the shining afternoon” while a slug (in ‘Slug in Lancashire’) is a “Slippery finger” not only “at home among the rhubarb” but also “the gorgeous former wetness of itself,/ a path homeward in its own lubrication”.
As well as over-writing, Pucciani can commit the double ending (though the first sin is the stronger and sometimes used to compensate for the banality or thinness of her material). She is occasionally trite and sentimental. I also found the notes explaining the themes of the book’s four parts overly-directive. None of this, however, detracts from her being a fine poet. When she applies the bridle and the bit, she can give us lines as superb as these from ‘Horizons’:
A whetstone sea grinds today’s sky
into smudged charcoal, the cleavage
of earth and ether a cobalt crayon,
its lineation thick as night against crescent
moon, breast against bodice of black silk.