It is a complex story, with highs and lows, dreams (the dream of the
young girl visiting Rome and finding her “love”) and tragedies (“Timonium”), pleasant episodes and gloomy moments. But no happy ending. It opens
with the meeting of a young American girl (“An American in Rome” or
“The innocent abroad”) with a kind of local Latin lover: a couple destined
to become the author’s parents. Under their sign, the whole sequence is
structured, from romance through crisis and divorce to the end of their
Of course it sounds a bit like a novel, which I suppose it is as well. Casella goes on:
From a formal/stylistic point of view, worth recalling is the high
frequency of similes (“like/as”) followed by various metaphors; as regards
the form of the stanzas, several poems are structured in unrhyming (or
scarcely/imperfectly rhyming) tercets and/or couplets, one in quatrains, and
some (seven) in fourteen lines, arranged in various patterns and schemes,
formally—but only formally—recalling the number of lines of the sonnet.
There are actually a number of formal sonnets in the book (rhymed and metered)! But I do like the informal sonnet, the thirteener and fifteen-line sonnet, and pretty much anything else that resembles a sonnetlike poem.
He concludes beautifully:
And it is in the very sign of literary tradition that the poet concludes his book: after “Unburial,” his father’s “exit” and “Requiem for an Ocean Burial,” the ritual scattering of his mother’s ashes, the poet directs his gaze “To the Horned Moon”, in a XXI c. claire de lune which closes the circle of one of the most ancient poetic topoi begun some seven centuries B.C. by Alkman’s unforgettable nocturne.
Here is the poem, reaching back in time.
“To the Horned Moon”
How often I meet you here
above the trees and houses
nested in sleep, the edges
of you ringed, luminescent
as a dropped nickel in a pool
of crude oil. Copper-crowned
night, twilit and electric blue,
presiding above the world
unchallenged. What star
measures up to you? None
I know of. They are too far.
You, on the other hand,
so close I could
take you by the horns
wrestle you to Earth or
steer you forever
at ten million miles per hour
straight out of the universe.
-from Verse-Virtual, May 2018