Declassified — Mariela Griffor (Eyewear Publishing Ltd.)
Today's book of poetry by Michael Dennis
Declassified. Mariela Griffor. Eyewear Publishing Ltd. Marylebone, London, U.K.
Declassified by Mariela Griffor is bursting at the seams with ideas, imagery and outside influences. A short retinue of guest stars has to include: Nelson Mandela, William S. Burroughs, George Orwell, Sappho, Kurt Cobain, David Foster Wallace, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Sofia Kovalevskaya, Sylvia Plath, James Joyce, Henry David Thoreau, Ariel Dorfman and Marcel Proust.
Regardless of the guests, in the end these are poems of love and loss. Every highway we know has ditches littered with the ruined and rusty hulks of what someone once called hope. Or at least the wire-fenced, flower adorned, temporary altar, a reminder of someone's worst moment, another person's worst loss.
May 20, 2014
For Regina Derieva
We never met; we never spoke to each other
except through the immigrant song of Jan Johansson,
we knew we were united in
indestructible fibers of life breathing
in and breathing out, marching
to the sound of old days, in countries
that remind us of our own countries,
speaking old languages, that remind us of our own tongues,
we became so suddenly eternal tourists with a right to vote.
It was a time in my life when I stopped laughing
and I knew you did too. I could see it
in the photographs of magazines and
journals where new poems by you were published.
I knew what it was to be without a reason to laugh.
So sorry to have to miss you,
well-planned journeys, well they never happened.
I planned several trips to Rinkeby,
a town that I avoided fiercely when
I was there. It is not easy
to be reminded of cut wings, as you know.
My trips to Stockholm were always
the same, Gamla Stan, centrums, H&M
and the Viking Museum, then back to Uppsala.
Rinkeby was a forbidden point,
the limbo of anybody's trajectory.
But had I known then you were there
I would have faced the fear
and visited you.
I love your work. The fresh, naïve
and sweet idea the world can be improved, stained
on the pages everywhere.
I love the way you put the
best of you in your poems. The way
you make yourself at home inside a whale,
the way some of your images cannot
leave my head for days, exactly like
a pop song. The way you make me think
with each line and take me to places
I have never been before.
I love the way that insufferable persistence
of something must change in this
endlessness of war times, this time that
consumes each of us and makes us bend
in the direction of the wind a dozen times per day
as in your poem. I pray for that persistence
to infect everyone who reads you.
I'm sorry to have missed you in this life.
I imagine what great times you and I would have had
if we only had the opportunity and time, and money of course,
don't forget that, to meet.
Silly of me to think we would have had
that cup of coffee in Gamla Stan
and talked about pigeons and old catholic schools,
and how the world is not changing but ending.
Nature has its tricks, and even if we make progress,
it will make us part of its garden. Yes, at least.
Today's book of poetry has always flattered ourselves that we are "experienced." It is to laugh. Mariela Griffor's Declassified reminds Today's book of poetry just how sheltered our life has been. Up until a post-Katrina visit to New Orleans, I had never heard a gun shot from a weapon fired in anger. I've only heard it once. Admittedly it was several rapid shots from a pistol followed immediately by three or four quick bursts of machine gun fire in return,
The last rebellion of any kind here in Canada was the failed FLQ operation. That was when I was young and both Quebec City and Montreal were as far from Peterborough as Mars. Griffor's Chilean history and her experiences as a political refugee are but one layer of the Griffor onion.
Today's book of poetry was won over quickly, Mariela Griffor has lived through things we cannot begin to imagine and come out the other side clean and hopeful. How astonishing is that? People still have to love and tenderness plays a big role in the Griffor canon.
The Last One
Last night I could not sleep,
the children were not at home. They both had
sleepovers. I was tired, too. Too much time away from
grown ups and I know they will be OK, I will move
back. This time, closer to my father, that at that
time will be old and probably very cranky. But
I will move back to spend with him the
time we never could give to each other before.
I will move back to those mountains in between
Pucon and Talcahuano, I will go to the beaches
around. I also plan to write.
I will take walks in San Pedro to
meet those people I saw the last time
when I was there, and I will run to the
Ocean, to touch the black sand of San Pedro,
I will be closer to God, feeling the thick
air of the early morning. I will let the salt
make my face ruggy and I will think about you and
those days in Chiloe, at the End of the Earth.
I also will go and visit my old relatives, those
that are so old that they don't even remember their
ages. I will put back the pieces of that last poem, and
will promise that you will always have a place in my mind.
It's time for you and me to go different
ways. You find the place your soul was longing.
And I will choose to stay here without you and
with the other I love. Just hang out there,
the day to get together is every day shorter,
but now it is time for me to do so much more.
Last night as I said I could not sleep
I knew this would be my last letter and my
last poem for you.
Our morning read was set up by Eric Burden & War belting out the long version of "Spill the Wine."
When Eric quit his temperamental scat, with War throbbing behind him like "hot rings of fire," we got on with our poetry business.
Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, started us off this morning and we were away, Thomas sat in, along with Lucy, our newest intern, and declassified Declassified.
Sometimes the horrors of life confound us innocents, but those rare souls who have had their pearls polished by terrible friction and come out the other side shining write wondrous and brave, Griffor can write deeply caring and sweet poems, or she can knock on the darkness door.
Today's book of poetry has a soft spot for Chilean poets. Nicanor Segundo Parra Sandoval (1914-2018), is an all-time favourite here in our offices. Mariela Griffor will have the recently interred centenarian Parra, smiling, at the very least, a certain sly grin. Griffor is that hard as nails poet with a gentle and loving human heart.
Name: Mariela Griffor