Palimpsest Press | 2017 | 72 Page | $18.95 | Purchase online
“Maunder” is a pejorative term for meandering speech. In this grudging landscape, where everything should have a pragmatic, immediate purpose, to maunder is to go against the grain or flow, at the risk of, at best, being ignored by a “shrewd congregation,” and at worst, perhaps, ground down to the detritus that litters the poems’ imagery. Kelly shows us, however, the gleanings that can only be found by following apparently purposeless mental and geographical paths. And what a lot of varieties of traveling we see in these poems: on trains and buses and especially on foot. The four seasons, personified, ride city buses.
The northern hard-headedness speaks even here: the easy meanings of history and communication and transcendence are impossible. The poet reminds herself or us, “don’t ever trust the dead” and notes “language has failed you.” Patterns are identified as products of a dubious evolutionary inheritance. Fog, frost, palimpsests point to erasure. And in perhaps the most northern metaphor of romantic pairing I’ve ever read, the poet suggests to a lover: “We can be two cans/lined up and shot off/a wooden fence/that miraculously/fall and settle/next to each other….”