July 2015. 36 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-52-7 (= PSPS 15)
"Scott Elder's poems are like impressionist paintings - or subtle sketches in which the subject is glimpsed and then coyly hides, is glimpsed again running through linden trees before ducking out of view once more. These poems are full of mystery and tenderness, with a deftness of touch that takes us from Homer's Penelope to the Isle of Skye, via Humpty Dumpty a .340 Magnum, scarecrows and an enigmatic Finnish woman. They conjure a mood which is tentative and meditative, leading the reader to a place where, in the words of one of his characters, we stand 'at the door, a stranger, // divining the fall, the throw of bones, / coming to know what you knew, // until dusk, too, had inevitably gone.' This is a fragile, beautiful collection which gets better with each reading."
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from Breaking Away
A twist of the wrist and she's gone.
Wind hissing through a dozen halyards
confirms that somebody's gone.
Who dare defy desire trickling in her veins,
denying all but her lover's glance?
Dawn parts sky and water,
defines a line between two lips touching.
If you come a little closer the line is curving.
It runs through the thrill and the fear
of placing her foot on the bank.
The bank is endless.
A gull floats off in the broken half-light.
Then another, and still another.
The lady's waded to shore.
She shivers and sighs.
The wind picks through her clothes and hair,
whispers in gusts, C'est par là ... par là.
The bank is endless,
an empty cradle, the devil's spindle,
a dance together on the ocean's edge,
neck to neck, break-neck and body,
heart and spade, one last dance,
a board that's played.
Portrait in Winter
I wanted him to be ancient, a silhouette in winter,
a cornfield under snow, a scarecrow.
I wanted to unsew his crooked smile,
to rub away the jagged edges. My fingers
stuck in the pigment. Barbwire and thistle
caught in my clothes. His element
was the wind. His eyes were wind-worn
from looking, looking.
The pupils had faded away.
How to bring him together,
me in his shadow listening to the wind,
to him, to his cuffs and sleeves ... dancing.
Reviews of Breaking Away
"The qualities that most appeal to me in these poems by Scott Elder are their elusiveness and ambiguity, a mood of absence, an impression that what is not said is as important as the actual. [...] The poems in this pamphlet are lyrical and mysterious. [...] Throughout, there are references to myths, folk songs, fairy tales, a wealth of symbolism and intriguing surreal touches [...]. Scott Elder’s publication [...] is rich in subtle, evocative poems. It is the forerunner, I am sure, of a great deal more."
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