The Luskville Reductions: another fine work from Monty Reid

Monty Reid. The Luskville Reductions (Brick Books 2008).

Good poetry doesn’t age, so reading The Luskville Reductions now, admittedly a little late, I find it to be a superb serial poem, each page a single (anti-)lyric cry, but the whole a unified exploration of a broken relationship. Questions of memory & loss, or loss & remembering, haunt this book. The poems connect the world & the body, past & present, what the broken couple once shared & what the singular writer recalls in the midst of separation. The text utilizes pronouns carefully, the ‘I’ intended to be read as ‘the writer’ but also then as a constructed figure, while the ‘you’ usually stands for the missing partner but sometimes slips into that addressee who is the self speaking.

The poems are minimal, but sharply edged, witty, & subtle in their allusive argument. Reid allows the perceived world to act as metaphor. Therefore he never needs to push allusions too hard or obviously. The images simply do the work, quietly, on their own:

The rain is finished

but the way rain beads on the dented fenders
of what has been loved

isn’t.

The rain is finished

but the sheen of rain still on the concrete
isn’t.

. . . . . .

The rain is finished
but there is always something

in the lid of the body
that resists

and something with bigger holes in it
than the holes in rain.

Reid’s sense of the line, & of spacing, reminds me a bit of Creeley, who also explored love & its loss in his finely tuned poems.

The book moves from Summer through Fall to Spring, but most of the poems seem set in the Fall, the time of all things collapsing into winter, into loss. As usual, & even in a poem of loss, Reid demonstrates his deft comic touch, which only deepens the feeling of sad acceptance the book achieves:

One hard morning
red blows out of the trees

too fast and loose for anything
with one good leg to keep up to

and the fall foliage tours
are off

just like that.

In the rescheduled afternoon
sunlight the leaves gather

in drifts along Chemin
de la Montagne

and agree they never wanted
celebrity status anyway.

It’s what the trees say too
now that they’re standing

there, arm in arm
naked.

Still, certain images, the rain & a black dress for example, return, & help to open & close the book. The Luskville Reductions holds together as a single sequence, not simply a collection of lyrics but a carefully organized poetic argument, each piece a necessary addition to a writerly quest of sad discovery. It’s well worth joining Reid for the journey.

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