O Wheel: Poems

O Wheel: Poems

by Sacks, Peter Sacks
     
 
O Wheel is a book of amazing delicacy, intricacy, and formal beauty that nevertheless reveals terrifying truths. Its backdrop is an edgy mix of the intense violence of South Africa's recent history, the intensely personal struggles of the human soul for the rights to speak freely and to experience justice, and the expanse of the American literary landscape.

Overview

O Wheel is a book of amazing delicacy, intricacy, and formal beauty that nevertheless reveals terrifying truths. Its backdrop is an edgy mix of the intense violence of South Africa's recent history, the intensely personal struggles of the human soul for the rights to speak freely and to experience justice, and the expanse of the American literary landscape. Sacks employs a variety of poetic styles and approaches that break ground formally as well as thematically. With a vision that is at once personal and public, he contends with nihilism and extracts hope from even the most barbaric aspects of human nature. O Wheel offers sensitive and striking poems that menace, overwhelm, entice, provoke, and deeply move the reader.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Must form itself become the work of anguish?" Sacks's fourth collection of poetry argues that indeed it must. Compression, elision, and tense lexical compounding are the devices Sacks, following if not equaling Mandelstam and Celan, selects for this work of proleptic mourning--for a father in the excruciating final stages of a disease that leaves him, like the Marsyas of Greek myth, "flayed by Apollo," and for a South Africa shedding the skin of apartheid in convulsions that bring "the wild speeding up of change to absolute." The poet means us to hear the death-rattle of impending retribution in the latter phrase and elsewhere; the poem "Relief," for one, ends abruptly on the words: "Waiting to be killed." The odd-numbered sequences of the five-section book engage fragmented forms of lyric utterance (one notes the debt to Jorie Graham) to sound an ominous landscape, similar to the actual combat zones Sacks recalled in Natal Command: "I felt it/ in the warning/ downward// leaf & branch/ beneath// their fingers/ rapid// murderous/ (& there was music // --hacking)." These alternate with sections charting--with dire, if chronically oblique, precision--the nightmarish vicissitudes of terminal illness. Though his command of the elegiac register is subtle and studied (he devoted a scholarly monograph to the subject in the mid-1980s), Sacks is a less adept political allegorist: the three sections of wide-scope meditation are prone to phobic and dystopic stereotypes as the disoriented poet grasps at myth and mystique to make sense of South Africa's complex social transformation. Even so, the personal and political anguish of this volume is hard to gainsay. Imagining the knife blade pressed to his neck, Sacks does what he must: "sing out, the blade says,/ sing." Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Internet Bookwatch
O Wheel is a collection of powerful, visionary, aesthetically intricate poetry by a master wordsmith who contents with nihilism, extracting hope from even the most desperate aspects of human nature. The poetry of Peter Sacks is superbly engaging, profoundly moving, literate and memorable. Look In Your Heart: Unshelled/floatrock and mother-lode./The mountain sagged then broke apart,/each ounce so concentrated nothing held/whatever stamp of its disfiguring/the mind made uncontainable./Gloved tongues./The body wrapped and set where space had been./Crush out the breath crush out the words/they feed and carry it away./Where we have fallen./Crawling out.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820321844
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
04/01/2000
Pages:
92
Product dimensions:
5.97(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.30(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


THE TREE


This was a different sound, repeated from the other side pressed to the disappearing
    throat,
face, fingers, memory of.

The door blew wide on swells that shone back through the tree the ocean
    swung from—
single leaf.

Branch by branch you climbed to where the voices rained.

You held up the song, frayed to the whispered friction of grass when wind
    drops & the
meadow whistles under a dipping finch

the surf swept backward by a larger breath than you could draw till now.

Releasing everything, you climbed again among the others reaching through

to where the world, surprised by hearing pieces of its name, looks back
    into the crowd of
those still vanishing. Who called?


OFFERING


Intolerable

hands
untwisted only

to new
instruments

of sound
over the earth's

own mortar-pitted

brand caught
fleeing out of

chaos
funneled grit &

bonesmoke

climbing
north over the

cropped &
varnished
heads

night watchnight
wall dug

through each new
descendent

filing
the unfinished

iron chamber
music

sharpening.


CALLING


Woken by
the always less than

full-strength
angel

fists clenched
mouth still open

undergone

you had to look around

---

I swallowed I began to
swallow river-bank

stone root stump
graft of who lay back?

whose plough?

---

To separate the words: black furrow

ox axe spine
inconstant constant

gold streaks straggling fortune
sweet juice in your mouth
for what?—

just there
below the shag of

---

doublings where the blade

shears through each
further version

---

death each way

---

white scales
the high unsentencing

---

set free (his representing
power of another kind)

---

before the end
I cut the whole wings

from my heart.


THE TRIAL


Dark flame seeding
rimless

bolted

will & matter
indistinguishable

until they had
invented God

one God.

---

I felt it
in the warning

downward

leaf & branch
beneath

their fingers
rapid

murderous
(& there was music

—hacking)

(cities multiplied)

the defile
late cut deep into

the bone
abraded hand-

sewn through
surrendered

needle-grained

the wick &
spending

between worlds.

White boulders,
dry sea bed.

Absolved.

Or is it taken back

under the smoke?


ASK ME


Unlit
channel leaf

I cannot
whistles

everywhere against
the setting

hung to bleed

a thorn-like bow
string blur

sinks into
the throat

define it
red drop

feather

merchandise
unveiled

the flesh
once only

to be sold

this near edge
nothing mercy

flung all
face-of-hearing

lean stone
membrane

dug
who listen

swiftly kept
alongside

lifted
hope how it

would cling
against

necessity

it clings you
do as from

the cliff high
branches and

you will.


FACE


And yet there was
a face on
which the spirit

moved—one
breath drawn
out all-branching &

another following
depths—lit

spindles redividing
as
the voice cuts

forward through

salt silt the reeds (we
saw them sway-back

in our wake)—cut

pounded sliced
again—black mat of

memory.

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