Emma's Reviews > OCHO #6

OCHO #6 by Lorna Dee Cervantes
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's review
Oct 03, 2008

really liked it

This slim journal is a juicy little read, and it begins with poems by Lorna Dee Cervantes and Lyn Lifshin. "Shelling the Pecans," by Dee Cervantes, is a meditation on a domestic task that expands into a study of gender, passion and power. The poet stitches short declarative lines with more languid ones, such as the start of the second verse:

I put my hole into you, this notch
between the breasts, this discovery
and treason. Hembra a macho. Fixed.

The blend of the occasional Spanish word adds further to the sense rhythm and ritual. I read this poem three times before moving on to the next one; each read offered me another revelation, and I have to say it's easy to see why the poem won a Pushcart Prize. No one sounds like Cervantes. She is a singular chanteuse.

"Champlain, Branbury, The Lakes At Night," by Lyn Lifshin, also features women as its focal point but in a manner that is more memoir than incantation. Although it's short, it is filled with rich imagery, and reading it felt like I was poring over a photo album, reminiscing about how

Cigarettes glowed like
Indian paintbrush.
Water slapped the
deck. Night flowers
full of things with wings,
something you almost
feel like the fingers
of a boy moving...

Lifshin's "New Hampshire" is another vividly-rendered portrait. If she was a painter, I imagine she'd use oils and make detailed landscapes of the beauties of rural life.

The rest of the journal (19 poems in total) skips around in subject and in form, but there are equally memorable poems,
such as Michael Parker's "A Difference Between Us," an unsentimental and moving journey through
...the war-scarred hills
where the words of Mohammad whistle
on the wind and everyone translates:
there is refuge ahead.

And John Korn's "this poem fell of the stool" is a delightful and surreal romp that begins with birds and ends up with a brain and the bizarre punchline of a joke.

This OCHO is a great example of how lit journals can be brief and still quite satisfying.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Grace (new)

Grace What a fine review. Beautiful entry to the piece.Impossible to turn away from. Grace

message 2: by Michael (new)

Michael Hi Emma, this is a fitting and thorough review of an amazing Ocho! I agree with Grace -- your review and insights are a beautful addition to work. I'm thrilled it's finding such a wide readership.
And thank you for your thoughts on "A Difference Between Us." I sincerely appreciate it.

Best of wishes.

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