01 January 2011

Eating Fruit Out Of Season by David Livingston Clink

Eating Fruit Out Of Season
Tightrope Books
Paperback, 91 pages
ISBN:978-0-9783351-1-3

Link to Purchase

Reviewed by Joan Hanna
David Livingstone Clink's Eating Fruit Out Of Season (Tightrope Books, 2008) welcomes the reader into a world of shifting voices, tones and perspectives. Each poem opens up into another as if you are sifting through soil with each layer yielding richer and richer earth. The first thing you notice is Clink’s use of altering perspectives. Each poem seems to be speaking in many voices and all of them come through clear and strong. Midway through the collection, you begin to feel as though you are sitting across the table from him, having a steaming espresso, while he casually tells you these stories. But there is nothing casual or haphazard about this collection. Clink pulls out all the stops and techniques then adds to it an unrelenting sense of humor about the world around him.  

His use of space between stanzas in “Food Chain” not only adds emphasis but becomes a part of the music of the poem:
I am served something
that used to photosynthesize.
 

The mess I have made
Of my life is underfoot and climbing.
 
It calls for an army of household cleansers.

I became so absorbed in the ethereal abstractness of “Cottage Road” I felt as if I was seeing it from a shimmering heated summer afternoon:
 
I remember the feeling of drifting home 
After witnessing a barn float away
on a mirage of grass, the sky swallowing birds
Clink’s poems range in style, which add to the variation as he handily shifts into list and prose poems. Clink explores now, dives into his past and allows his readers a glimpse into the future. But, he keeps one foot and his reader firmly planted in the present. In “The Forecast” the simple image of an umbrella become the catalyst for a future vision:
In the future everyone will wear an umbrella on their head. Their heads
will be filled with images of melting glaciers, people on
rooftops, waiting ... The U.S. government will put together an advisory
committee ... He will walk out into the forest, and before the first person speaks
he will say “No, that won’t work,” and, “That won’t work, either.”
... eyes will look back with 20/20 vision at what we could have done to keep umbrellas off our heads in the future.
Clink’s list poems include: “Flowers on a One Way Street”; “The Moon Belongs to Everyone”; “Now it Can Be Told”; and my favorite “Venus Rising From the Sea.” These are not merely listings of images and ideas. These are poems filled with curious and unexpected connections approached with humor and depth.
Venus
Venus after forty: sexual myths, men’s fantasies, and truths about
        middle-aged women
Venus at her mirror: Velázquez and the art of nude painting
Venus Cantina: famous female impersonators, celestial and human
Venus envy: a history of cosmetic surgery
Venus in exile: the rejections of beauty in twentieth-century art
Venus in furs
No other poem in the collection shows off Clink’s flair for shifts like “Exhibit” We are traveling at once within the museum, visiting his past, and listening to what he is thinking in the present. And he doesn’t miss a beat; we are with him all the way.
1.   "I remember the first time I asked you out – the
     Armageddon clock moved another second
     closer to midnight.


2.   A new theory tells us Tyrannosaurs
      hunted in packs, formed social groups
      where young and old lived and worked together.

     We are very much alike, sharing this
     diorama that tries to be more than it is.


3.   I fall asleep to the soft music of your legs"
“Dust” is a four-part poem leaping off of quotes from Neil Armstrong, Yuri Gagarin, Chuck Yeager and Orville and Wilbur Wright. With this poem, as with the entire collection, Clink takes us from the earth, to the moon and the stars, and back again:
I
"Everything is made of: shadows and lines, the swell of summer’s
cuttings, the simplicity of a mug, babies that keep clasping who will
someday pierce the world with their spittle.

II
I feel the brown touch of earth. Twigs rise, become nests. I breathe in
the cool sunset afternoon, the world yellows.

III
Trying to say what you mean to me is like trying to explain retrograde
motion in an earth-centered universe.

Nothing is unchanged by time"
IV
When you go back far enough my existence is a breath in a tree fort
with the still day below. Leaves cover the ground. Venus in the early
morning sky.”
While reading Eating Fruit Out of Season you feel as though time, space and the continuum are gathering to view the world in a whole new way. Clink does this so well, we are willing to follow along accepting every shift in tone, voice and perspective standing right by his side for the entire ride. 

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