UPROCK HEADSPIN SCRAMBLE and DIVE
by
Patrick Rosal

Reviewer: Ed Farolan


 

 

 

 

 


The Book's cover
The book's jacket cover

This poet was born of Filipino immigrants in northern New Jersey. He received an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and has published poems in American Review, "The NuYor Asian Anthology" and elsewhere. He teaches writing and literature at Bloomfield College. He is the winner of the Palanquin Poetry series for his collection "Uncommon Denominators."

I found his poems from this, his latest collection original, creative and from the heart. I particularly liked the last poem in this collection, "Pick-up Line Ending With a Prayer." It flows lyrically in free verse as all modern poetry is today, in an almost conversational style:

When I tell la Colombiana I first met/ a week before Tu nombre/ se queda conmigo I know/ this is a bad idea but/ she doesn't stop me with her stock stone stare/ that sends away every other man/ who's tried to speak to her tonight/ I pull up my left sleeve to show the sea and sun/ tattoed on my forearm then/ point and say her name/Mar-i-sol She smiles/I don't tell the tattoo is a myth/ of creation: a bird's trick to yoke heavens and ocean in a titanic/ barroom brawl: the ancient scrap/ which has begotten all continents/ of desire:: even the four-footed liquor-stained/ ellipsis where Marisol and I will stand/ at the corner of a crowded New Jersey dance floor/some 500 millenia later.

I need to know something/about the legacy of beauty she inherits/the way a coastline inherits salt/I have yet to learn the catalog of unloved/gestures a woman lets no one read/I have yet to understand grace/ is not the absence of awkwardness/ but an accumulation of so many/ quirks the body finds a way to make them happen all at once.


 

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Lord my job tonight is to fashion lies/ as with my life-long ambition/ I may not deserve to fall in love But/ let this be true -- the beginning/ in which there was only an ocean and a star/ and a little pain we called distance/ Let there be a bird with nowhere to alight/ who taunts the heavens to water/ who riles waters to the heavens/ Let there be mar-y-sol Let there be land/ and one day let it contain a dance floor There/ let me recognize human grace when I see it:/every mis-step and slip/ every foible and fuck-up/Let me know them like the first errors of the sea

I particularly like the "prayer" ending of this poem- a contemporary poet's version of the Creation in Genesis.

osal has received accolades of praise for this collection which is partly a chronicle of his family happenings, as in "Notes For the Unwritten Biography of My Father, an Ex-Priest" (no wonder all the religious connotations in his poetry), and a touching poem about he death of his mother, "A Riff For My Mother" I got drunk dizzy for days/after my mother's death For weeks/dhe lay on a dim-lit bed where I held her hand...

Filipinos have made a tremendous impact in American literature. It all began with writers like Carlos Bulosan, poet and novelist, poet Jose Garcia Villa, all in the early 20th century when the Philippines was a Commonwealth of the United States, and Filipinos came as migrant workers to America. The tradition continues with Patrick Rosal and other Filipino writers, contributors to the making of American literature. For more information on this volume, visit: perseabooks.com

2005 Ed Farolan

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