A Review by Norman Ball of All the Babble of the Souk, Collected Poems. Robin Ouzman Hislop.


All the Babble of the Souk
By Robin Ouzman Hislop
Aquillrelle, 2015
 
Norman Ball, writer, author of Between River and Rock: How I Resolved Television in Six Easy Payments
Before I get to the book itself, I’d like to offer up a confession. Robin and I have, over the years, engaged in some fascinating discussions on such far-flung topics as Big Bang contrarianism, the mystery of consciousness, theories of memes, multiverses, Popper falsifiability and vitalism, just to name a few; in short, the usual water cooler chatter. Or maybe not. Robin’s a whole lot smarter than me. Nonetheless it’s a lot of fun trying to keep up. If you’ll forgive a mixed metaphor, we’re odd ducks of a feather.
 
For one thing, Hislop is not averse to the occasional Latinate or ism getting tossed into a stanza. Of course poetical exploration of High Concept puts one at odds with the prevailing penchant for concrete image and tactile adhesives. There are many in poetry today who insist that, if you can’t say something nice about a spatula, a garden hose or a lamppost, you have no business trafficking in periphrasis. Everything must be grounded in the real, they say—as if such a thing as the real really existed. If I may say, oh prevailing sentiment in poetry, get real.
 
So, perhaps All the Babble of the Souk is not for everyone. But then, what of any value ever is? Poetry marches under a Big Spatula and we all can’t be flipping fried eggs and hash. Besides, in the hands of a deftly abstract mind, abstraction is not exactly a kick in the head. Nor will it break the yokes and spoil your breakfast. What is a speculative poetic excursion, after all, but high imagination and eccentricity commiserating via language? Let the arbiters of bric a brac catalog the quotidian like good flea marketeers. Such people are born to rummage about in the attic and log their heirlooms on eBay. Hislop doesn’t trammel their kiosks. He has Big Thoughts to mull.
 
Fresh off a personally intense eye-mind exploration , I found myself greatly predisposed to ‘Maps’, a four-piece series of poetic aphorisms that offers some dazzling insights into how we demarcate our space, time and existence, and especially how these elements are conveyed, if not even defined, by our senses:

      Time links the auditory, the visual cortices on the retina which maps a fission between the unseen form of sound, the unheard sound of seeing


This notion of time having a real job to do immediately put me in mind of John Archibald Wheeler: “Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.” Hislop may be onto something even more subtle: Does time keep chaos at bay, allowing time for our disparate senses to marry their qualia into a coherent universe? Perhaps those with Synesthesia are more evolved creators of worlds, their gaps between sound and vision less discontinuous.
 
‘Maps’ delivered me to a speculation I wouldn’t have reached otherwise. And I find that’s a critical function of Hislop’s poetry. It gathers, then points away. More important than the resolved landing place is how it offers a hospitable ‘symposium’, couching philosophical fields of inquiry within poetic metaphor from which the reader’s own speculative arcs can then rise and take tangential flight; speculations feeding speculations. What does resolution ever resolve anyway? Conclusions are overrated. The concrete of the concretists doesn’t exist in a world:

      Imposed as
      an impression
      seeking an ineffable concrete
      in an abstraction
      which defies location.—from ‘Red Butterflies’


Tumbling down rabbit holes beats rabbit stew any old day, especially when the universe may have us fixed for the next tasty, sentient bunny-in-line. In this sense I would call Hislop’s poetry inviting, intelligent, and refreshingly non-binding.
 
In ‘From Here to Silence, three’, he sets up a free will versus determinism tug-of-war stalked by Nietzschean recurrence and Leonard Susskind’s holographic 2D picture-show. You got a problem with that, Rod McKuen?

      Say we are not sui generis
      (the cause of yourself)
      we are homeostatic holographs
      dimensions in spectral parallel membranes
      our near eternal process to err
      along such a line we pass time in, time out
      but could we not cheat the butterfly effect?


The stanza ends on the plaintive hope, reminiscent of Kafka that our cycle of error could end if freewill achieved grace but for an instant. Let us hope that moment arrives as I’m so tired of breaking my shoelace the day before Thanksgiving forever.
 
Am I losing the yucksters in all the heavy universe lifting? Not so fast. Hislop can be funny too. ‘At a Slant’ has a droll quality that still draws a snicker if for no other reason than that we’re stuck, all together (‘but it’s the same for all of us!’):

      The con of life
       
      the weirdness of its melodramatic sham
      how good we are at yesterday, tomorrow
      always better than before
      like,
      being had – in the process by it.

The juxtaposed tenses of being had cement the interminable predicament we share. No exit. But at least we perfect our yesterdays until such time as we resume them anew, becoming rank amateurs all over again. But amateurs with a difference, with a modicum of acquired wisdom and an almost imperceptibly elevated rank. Okay, so it’s bleak, black humor. But there are shafts of light. One day, though maybe yet a half-eternity away, some butterfly will escape the dark matter of our descending shoe. (Butterflies pervade Hislop’s poetry.) We’ll be released to the next pristine universe armed with a butterfly-brain’s worth of hard-earned prescience. So yes, each successive Big Bang is not an unadulterated singularity. Some kernel of hard-earned wisdom gets borne through. Each new universe is a tooth on a slowly revolving gear that turns towards…perfection? In short, something barely better.
Since Hislop asks, that’s what—I think, I hope—may be ‘next’:

      Pack, the near infinite
      (in—the moment before you munch)
      take a bit of the biscuit
      before the Big Crunch
      it’s an eternal packet
      & having all, what’s next?—from ‘Lucky Hat Day’

All the Babble of the Souk will have you pondering your predicament in a whole new imaginative light. Reflect well my friend, as mindless impulsivity, and materialist inanity, is precisely what dangles this eternity over the interminable abyss. Therein may lie our paper-thin chance for freedom: by insect increment, one pardoned butterfly per eon at a time.

—Norman Ball
 
Editor’s note: for more of this Poet/Writer’s scintillating script please do not fail to overlook the hyper-text link eye-mind exploration included in the above review.
 
 
Norman Ball FBP
 
 
NORMAN BALL (BA Political Science/Econ, Washington & Lee University; MBA, George Washington University) is a well-travelled Scots-American businessman, author and poet whose essays have appeared in Counterpunch, The Western Muslim and elsewhere. His new book “Between River and Rock: How I Resolved Television in Six Easy Payments” is available here. Two essay collections, “How Can We Make Your Power More Comfortable?” and “The Frantic Force” are spoken of here and here. His recent collection of poetry “Serpentrope” is published from White Violet Press. He can be reached at returntoone@hotmail.com.
 
 
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The Cultivated Ones. A Poem by Janet P. Caldwell.

 
The pampered roses are are all bred
much like step-ford wives to look alike.
From seedling to flowering
with abundant care, they do survive.
 
The gardener making sure they lay in measured mulch
are properly watered, holding the moisture
to prevent unwanted weeds from drinking and growing.
Halting the choking of a prized dressing of a cultivated lawn.
 
Unaware they are slaves to man’s idea of beauty
and never serving themselves.
 
Now, look at the daisy, some say she’s ugly,
just a wild, uncultured weed.
I say she’s a beauty, bending with the wind
growing sturdy through arid ground, so wild and free.
 
She’s the clever one, she’s cast off conformity.
 
 
Janet P. Caldwell December 16, 2015
final_mom
 
 
Janet P. Caldwell is an American poet from the USA. Her books are available on her website, (see below) Amazon and Inner Child Press. Janet says the poem is about many things, racism, politics, rebellion and not being “the good little soldier or carbon copy of the uninformed” that she was supposed to be. Once a poem is in the world, it belongs to the reader for interpretation. Please enjoy.
 
 
“our words change the world”
Janet Caldwell Web-site, Books and Poetry
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Maiden Voyage, 1496. A Poem by Abigail Wyatt.

 
(for Juana ‘La Loca’ of Aragon and Castile)
 
It was gossip taught me to love him first.
My ladies, how they whispered and they laughed:
behind pale, slender fingers, their tongues would tattle 
to press that unlooked for suit inflaming it to burn
forge-bright against my dull and listless days.
By smoking lamps I would study or stitch
until, at last, most sweetly cast adrift,
I would laze on my back as the ocean lulled
and I wondered at the wheeling stars. 
Lacking oars and a sextant, I surrendered my ark
to the currents and the pull of the tide
only to wake in the morning, landed high and dry,
with the tracks of salt tears on my cheeks,
a rosary upon my lips and an absence 
like a pain between my thighs.

 
 
Abi Writing
 
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. Formerly a teacher of English, she left the teaching profession in order to concentrate on her own writing and, since 2008, she has been fortunate enough to have been published in more than a hundred magazines, journals and anthologies all over the world. She is the author of ‘Old Soldiers, Old Bones and Other Stories’ and ‘Moths in a Jar’. Until recently she was co-editor of the online poetry journal Poetry 24. http://abiwyatt.wix.com/abigail-wyatt
 
 
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A.K.A. A Poem by Bekah Steimel

 
 
You’re embedded in my thoughts
like a needle in a junkie
shooting up with the memory
of last time
craving the consumption
of next time
fixated on the fix
otherwise known as your smile
otherwise known as my new favorite drug

 
bekahsteimel
 
Bekah Steimel is a poet aspiring to be a better poet. She lives in St. Louis and can be found online at bekahsteimel.com and followed @BekahSteimel.
 
 

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The Table By The Window. A Poem by Gary McKenzie

  
She had a baked potato 
With roasted veg 
And humus. 
  
The knife and fork remained on the table 
She held a tissue instead  
Both her face and hands were tight  
With emotion and anger. 
  
He had the same thing to eat 
All his face gave away was the fact he would rather be anywhere else 
But there. 
  
Christmas music filled the room; the rain battered the world outside. 
  
Her plate was still full 
As his got smaller 
Bite by bite. 
  
‘It is just so very hard this time of year’ 
  
Through potato and carrot 
He told her 
That everything would be okay 
Then a drink of coke 
Before asking why she was crying. 
  
‘I’m emotional today, that’s all’ 
  
The steam had stopped rising on from her plate 
His was now clean. 
  
‘I want to feel special, like how I thought we were going to be in the beginning’ 
  
He scrunched up the tissue 
After wiping what was left of his dinner
From his mouth,
He said 
It is, it will be. 
  
Dean Martin told everyone 
That the fire was slowly dying.
 
 
FB_IMG_1450104878117
 
Gary McKenzie is a 36 year old living and Studying English at Stirling University in Scotland.

 
 
 
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Changing Wind. A Poem by Steve Klepetar

 

Across this continent of snow I hear
my mother’s voice, faint and distant, scratching
against my door:

    “cold” she murmurs, “chilly
    for New York, and the wind, oh the wind…”

changing wind and swirling snow, eidolon
rising from the dark
 
in Saint Cloud air still as glass and
cold, ten below in useless morning sun, knife
blade breaths and bony
 
fingers of oak, we are strung
across trees, hanging in branches, festive
 
and fat as hens in red coats and blue, our fog
breath tinsel thin around faces blurry with tears
 
oh mother, where have you left your throat,
that shofar of flesh? Whose name do you sing
when stars linger, arrowheads of ice in winter sky?

 
 
SteveLadysmith
 
 
Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for \Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). Recent collections include Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013), My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press, 2013) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press).
 
 
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Lost my Love at the Louvre. A Poem by Mark Antony Rossi

 
Locked in this sea of oil paint and perfume
I danced with a girl in front of Mona Lisa
We laughed and made the guard smile
And agreed to dine at a street cafe
But that kiss
As much as it teased our hard bodies
And tempted our mortal souls
Became a fragment vanished
In the pieces scattered that fateful night
When amoral monsters made
A restaurant into a cemetery.

 
MRossi
 
Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, criticism, fiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Another Chicago Review, Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Collages & Bricolages, Death Throes, Ethical Spectacle, Gravel, Flash Fiction, Japanophile, On The Rusk, Purple Patch, Scrivener Creative Review, Sentiment Literary Journal, The Sacrificial ,Wild Quarterly and Yellow Chair Review.
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Disregard. A Poem by Gary Beck.

 
Dreams of falling
from perilous heights
snap us awake
just before impact.
Dreams of pursuit
by malevolent hordes,
snap us awake
just before capture.
Unconscious activity
denies nature’s mandate
for refreshing rest,
designed to prepare us
for demanding tomorrows.

 
 
 
Gary pic

 
 
The Remission of Order’ explores the search for stability in this confusing life, in which so many of us want security, but fail in our efforts to achieve a satisfactory existence, my next collection that I’ll seek to publish.
 
 
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays (Winter Goose Publishing). Perceptions, Fault Lines and Tremors will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Blossoms of Decay will be published by Nazar Look. Resonance will be published by Dreaming Big Press. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) Acts of Defiance (Artema Press). Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City
.
 
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