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ZERO SUMMER (BlazeVOX [books], 2009), Poems by Andrew Demcak and a Stimulus from TS Eliot
Published Work: 
Grady Harp
Oranges & Sardines

Andrew Demcak continues to blossom as an important poet with his newest collection of pieces of imagination married to craftsmanship. ZERO SUMMER is apparently inspired or derived from the thoughts by TS Eliot’s Phrases from ‘Little Gidding’, one of the portions of his FOUR QUARTETS. Demcak divides this body of work into three sections, each reflecting a phrase from the quoted Eliot about those fractured moments in time trapped by circumstances, negating completion.

Part 1 ‘Between melting and freezing’ contains some of the finest erotic poetry. In what is becoming a hallmark for this poet, these poems define lust, desire, onanism, finding and feeling and losing love affairs, childhood longings and memories - the sum of a sensual being. His range is from the lyrical (‘Vincent V. in 1993’) to the raw. In ‘Venus in Furs’ Demcak defines eroticism:

the morning I bag his lunch
while we fuck
my spine flat on the ironing board

inside the moon’s Valium
he’ll feed
lipstick into my incubator
so my asshole
will match Italian shoes.’

Part 2 ‘…this is the springtime But not in time’s covenant’ offers Demcak the opportunity to share the struggles of writing poetry as in ‘Automated Response to Mark Strand’ :’…the poem is a permission/given away’, or in the stunning ‘Myself in Memoirs’:

‘I’m this close
knee to chest
visited by angry philosophers

such news embarrasses me
when training

American lap dogs

those boys awed by the rancor of
slept-in beds

however true to my journal:

Then a few sticky peach peelings
and moonlight
on a dreamed-of ceiling.

In Part 3 ‘…a bloom more sudden Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,…’ Demcak delves into current events - tragedies, disease, social injustices, world events that seem planets away until he stirs them into spells for the reader. And he closes the collection with a moment of breathtaking beauty in ‘Moment of the Yew Tree, Moment of the Rose’:

‘wisteria spent itself completely
your twin garlands
over the juice pitchers
the block party pissing its light
into the grass

young peonies
frowning white
the summer night
behind ears

no mistaking the tulips
who wanted to kiss you
waiting beneath cautious stars

a lover folded like laughter
in dogwood blossom
mint and dirt

your heart
as sure-footed as rainwater’

Imagery such as this and the countless other examples begging to be quoted from these fifty seven poems create such rich atmospheres of beauty and urgency, and thoughts without horizon, that them seem to be coming from countless fertile minds instead of just one – influenced though that mind may be by TS Eliot! Andrew Demcak has the gift and we are all richer for it.

-Grady Harp