tall-lighthouse, 2006 - £2.50
Arrows shooting in all directions—that’s what my notes on this sequence of poems look like, and I think that’s what Lasky intended.
The twenty-five poems in this tightly-written group are multiple
scenarios, cross-referring throughout—either as allusions to events or through verbal echoes. As soon as you reach the end, you want to return, to re-read, to try to understand the different layers—and that’s the success of this pamphlet. The final line (“how close the word fall is to fail.”) sends you back, looking for all the ways of falling that appear.
The opening three poems seem gentle landscape sketches on first reading, and it is only in IV that the mood tightens. This poem opens with a mathematical formula (“the mathematical equation for a falling body,/ the key to her average velocity”) and it’s the first allusion to suicide, a theme which slides in and out of the remainder of the sequence. The dramatis personae are sketchy, as suits the scenarios: there is ‘she’; Mike from Ada Oklahoma; a British tourist; a family of mother, sister, father—“Generations tangled like love in the family album”. All of these characters are involved in some way in ‘falling’, and they share the fragility of existence that Lasky brings out through her delicate nature images (“a leaf is suspended in a spider’s web,/ caught like a hand asking for change ...”). The more you read, the more connections appear between these vivid glimpses of interlocked lives—and I like this.
Only two quibbles. A “red kite”, for me, is first a bird, not a toy. And “the angular shape of a Picasso landscape” set off my own train of thought about where landscape figured in Picasso’s work. Controlling the reader’s mind is always difficult, but it’s a vital concern when poems are as closely worked and interrelated as these.
D A Prince