Notes on the Poetry Selections

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December 21, 2018 by The Citron Review


Inside this Starbucks, one sees winter is coming. Every cup, snack, sign, and
coffee-accompaniment is decked in shades of red and green, and there are specialty drinks like Caramelized White Chocolaty Bliss to keep you in the holiday spirit. I know I have the spirit because I just ordered a Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate instead of my usual coffee—no need to up my caffeine intake before picking up my daughter from daycare. Sometimes a Starbucks will do; most times, I slip into my neighborhood coffee shop to order fair trade coffee and a bagel baked in Asheville.

Nevertheless, “the spirit” is growing on me, and I am grateful for many things this year, including the new additions to Citron, and an engaged readership. With the arrival of new talent in Citron’s editorial ranks comes a jolt of energy. I find roughly half our correspondence revolves around business. The rest: what we’re doing as writers and what’s happening in the literary landscape. I like going back and forth with Nathan about French culture in Montreal, and reading recent publications from our crew. I enjoy learning more about social media through Anna’s posts. I like the people that comprise Citron. Always have.

We are featuring three poets this issue, starting with Clara Burghelea’s “Mirage.” There is something about her work that reminds me of Wislawa Symborska—the luminous eye of Symborska and how she [WS] adjusts the focus of the microscope to focus not only on flesh and blood interaction, but also the minutia many miss. That’s high praise, I know, but I like to make associations as I go through poetry picks.

From “Mirage”:

In the realm of lost items,
where earrings, buttons, coins,
chances, words, gazes
cluster like beads,
tongues wait to be awoken.

That these “lost items” come alive in sequence—and in the framework of the poem—speaks to the “unbridgeable gulf” referenced by Burghelea. To me, her poem suggests the present is a paradox— at once vital and elusive, especially in the context of a relationship. I had seen her work in previous issue of Waxwing, a journal of which I am fond, and remembered her name when she submitted to Citron. Nice to see her featured here. Speaking of Citron, there used to be a rule that poems could not exceed thirty lines. Previously, I believe we stated on our website that Citron “celebrates the short form.” We do, still, but we have relaxed those restrictions.
Simon Perchik’s sequence of poems is well over thirty lines, and contains much of what I love about contemporary poetry, particularly the fragmented/elusive narrative style, where the speaker relays a story that feels close—and just beyond our reach. The mention of her in most stanzas combines with the structural elements of a houseboat to nail down a location, adrift. Is her a structure, a memory, a woman, like Helen, whose power summoned a thousand ships?

“–nothing moves in this sea / except as an armada”

I am unable to exhaust the possibilities in these poems. Though they are written in the present tense, and I experience these poems in vignettes, in the moment, I also locate them in the past, as if I am softly singing, praising, and mourning the passage of time, the people in my orbit, the attachment one has for the bones of his/her abode, the way the sea looks in different light, the way “a ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” -John A. Shedd.

Maria Pavone’s “Keyhole” arrests one’s attention from the opening lines: “He asked her out on a blind date. They could meet, but there’d be / a door between them.” The physical doors between this couple seem to be a metaphor for the barriers we erect when encountering that person other, especially as we make ourselves vulnerable. The excitement, awkward flirtation, and humor that encompasses a blind date is captured here with poetic craft that almost goes unnoticed because tone/mood is so operative. Craft might be the combination of compressed repetition, percussion, or enjambment that keeps this encounter fluid—or it might be the abrupt stop of “Pull the key out” that contrasts with the legs-shaking gentleman in the poem’s conclusion.

We are proud to feature these poets, and we hope you enjoy the new issue. Happy holidays, and thank you for supporting Citron.

Eric Steineger
Managing Editor & Senior Poetry Editor
The Citron Review

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