Jessie's Reviews > In Search of Small Gods

In Search of Small Gods by Jim Harrison
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Jun 01, 2010

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bookshelves: poetry
Read from June 01 to 18, 2010

Though a few poems don't achieve lift-off for me, Harrison is fanciful and meandering, a poet inventing endlessly from the detritus of his day and from the detritus of his memory. He's a scallywag but I like him (and who isn't a scallywag?)

My favorite are the prose poems, portraits mostly, full-bodied stories of whole lives: one comprised of advice from an Ojibwe alcoholic; one about a 96-yr-old Estonian working extra shifts as a deckhand just to get more daylight, having suffered too much darkness; one explicitly invented, opening, "I like to think that I was a member of the French Resistance..."

"Poets run on rocks barefoot when shoes are available for a dime."
from "The Penitentes" 40

Here is a mini-portrait I love, "Another Old Mariachi":

"His voice cracks on tremolo notes.
He recalls the labia of women
as the undersides of dove wings,
the birds he retrieved as a boy for rich hunters.
Now in a cantina outside of Hermosillo
he thinks, I don't have much life left
but I have my songs. I'm still the child
with sand sticking to my dew-wet feet
going to the fountain for morning water."
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