Tuesday, December 18, 2012

R. Nemo Hill's "When Men Bow Down"



I thought of writing about the power of observation in R. Nemo Hill's book of poems When Men Bow Down, and how that power undergirds the philosophical statements in the poetry. I thought of writing about the quiet authority of the poems, how they do not need to shout or leap or flash for attention, but find their way to something akin to epiphany but much more understated, a kind of understanding. I thought of writing about the gay sensibility of the book, how it is so refreshingly different from what passes for gay poetry nowadays. I thought of writing about the book's craftsmanship, its adroitness with blank verse, rhyming couplets, quatrains, sonnets and ghazals. I thought of writing about the achievement of a Western but non-exotic view of places such as Bali, Java, Myanmar, and Thailand, for with the same sympathetic but rigorous eye the American speaker looks at a young homeless couple in New York City, a teenage junkie in San Francisco, and his aging parents in Massapequa, Long Island.

I could have written about all these strengths of the poetry, for the book will bear close examination under any of these rubrics, but I don't, because doing so will put me at an analytic distance from these poems, when what the work says, most essentially, is Come with me. And See. And Isn't this interesting? I know Nemo and have heard many of these poems at readings around NYC. He is a friendly soul, but in his poetry he has distilled an intimate companionship. I would go anywhere with someone who could write poems such as "Silver Lining," "Soon," "For a Gardener," "Men Like These," "Saint Junkie" and "The Mandarin Orange Tree." "Not Far" is the title of one of the poems; it is also the inviting call of this poet. 

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