There is that tree that turns on
the lathe to make for the hand
a gentle handle. I is a splinter
for which selfishness is a gentle word.
The first in our chapbook series is Dan Beachy-Quick's Overtakelessness. 5.75 x 7 inches, 35 pages, hardbound, letterpressed raw board cover and Pantone test-sheet hinge/spine, vellum belly band. Cover design by Andrew Shuta.
The word Overtakelessness, is not a word. Sometimes, poets demand words in order to curate the life of the mind, to curate images into words, words with direct invitation to individual perception.
In this lyric sequence, the poet sifts through intuitive language and rural images that create a sensation before one can rename it:
Gentlesssness is a word
to describe that
which must deny itself
Before we’re able to conjure our own definition, the word gives us the meaning it needs so we can enjoy the world it lives in. While these words provide guideposts, images become objects that fill in the field of thought, the field of the page:
The sun pulls up
as if on strings
the green questions
While thinking through these “questions,” the speaker also aggressively reminds themselves why they need a new landscape in which to escape:
I confess I have lived
much of my life in the ideal
crisis. I think
of this place as a place.
This place lives, as we read, with nocturnal corn, self-imprisoned bees, and both the fields of earth and the fields of thought. While the poet performs a séance on the work of William Carlos Williams, bringing forth “wild-carrots” and “red wheel barrows,” and in one segment, grammatically refigures those “white chickens // glazed / with rain water,” we get new songs to sing:
Sweet rural song—
each day lasts forever
is not long—
Rust sings a hole in another’s
Repetition, along with syntactic and semantic re-arrangement of sentences throughout the sequence, dance us through a mind’s sharp engagement with the day-job of reality and the fantasy of content.
W.C.W. once suggested that a poem’s structure, created by the poet’s breath, provides the reader with a bearing in reality. This work’s structure, however, grounds the reader in the speaker’s reality, not necessarily the poet’s. While melodies abound to create this structure, it may still hold true, as Williams suggested, that a poem’s content, its subject matter, is pure fantasy. Dan Beachy-Quick creates serious fantasy, one we inhabit as we read, but ends when we’re finished thinking. These words become words.