CUTBANK REVIEWS: The Mining Camps of the Mouth by George Kalamara

The Mining Camps of the Mouth
by George Kalamara
New Michigan Press, 2012

Review by Nick Bosworth

I went for a walk in the family woods
having returned home for a bit and with
an axe and gloves navigated to a clearing
and a dying tree near falling. I felled it
with that blunt-edged instrument of masculinity.
Redefined the lightscape. Left the stump a couple
feet tall and cut another log about the same
and a third of four feet. Split it lengthwise.
Exposed the fiber-wet core—the sponge soaked
full of December rain: the way the tree left itself
and all. I benched it on the others. Sat and read
and thought of course. Could he be the axe?
It’s possible; I guess I could be him, or he’s the scene
the axe his words, his brain. And I and the tree
his reader and form. Hard to discern the right metaphor
here: a title strange at first lost to this consciousness.
But then again what meaning has bench really and even?
Or as he would say the owl on fire fiercely in my chest.
The name like Muir and Abbey and Snyder recedes
and another neaps along. Redefines with letters
addressed to places. To people with tales of unknowing,
self-sacrificing buffalo and the store of a big cat
hanging from a limb.
In it can be seen what can rarely bleed.

In it can be heard what is never urged.
And in the wet litter of the previous fall
the breasts of women. Their thighs. Their fees
seep and surge in the crevices of deadfall and roots.
If only I could list them all by age and town
I might understand my origin among origins.
This place I came of age, fat-kidding through the brush
12-gauge and doe scent on my boots. Come and get it, boys.
This place I return manned and bearded, worded
and plumbed. I brood to the end of my existence its cause.
I’m getting hard just writing this.
Like a child small and addicted to everything
who grew up and discovered substance.
I found bits of me in everything and still look
for more of more in all staggering, stuttering
moments of sight. In the graveyard near my house
Mother Isaline Sawyer rots or is rotted and her
breasts and thighs lay on her bones like moist leaves
over a cage and inside the jerked meat of a heart,
and I want more. Visceral and primal and placed.
I once looked to the bright green moss collaged
astrally on the concrete footer where I smoke and sit,
and in it found another bit of me in the logic of it
transformed like mathematics to the nature of nature,
the town where I live, the town back in Indiana,
to all the towns. And sitting here now in the quiet
rattle of breeze I remember a photograph of me
I’d like to forget and then another, some real
and some snaps in synapses. They too in the leaves
could. The leaves could. Thirty feet of the tree
wests from me and radiates branches, half a conical
corpse that in a yard would. At least for woodpeckers,
squirrels or owls. How did you die with all the sun
you could root? I guess he’s the tree and I his analysis.
In a dream I write him a letter, address it to George
or Mr Kalamaras. To buddy or kindred. And in it
I transcribe me in my places or rather the me’s in place
of place and invite him to share in a home of thisness
and thatness stark and silent.

Nick Bosworth is from central Indiana and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Montana in Missoula. His poetry and non-fiction have appeared in The Harbinger. Nick spends his time writing and playing music, and with artwork and woodwork. Also video games. And cats when available.

George Kalamaras currently lives in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and teaches at Indiana University-Purdue University Ft. Wayne. He has spent time living in Colorado which finds its way into his work. He has authored six books of poetry and seven poetry chapbooks.

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