Missing, not fishing, a review of Gone Miss ng by Antony Di Nardo | Louise Carson

Gone Miss ng

Hidden Brook Press 2020

ISBN: 9781989786048
Number of pages: 106
Weight: 168 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 6 mm

     I really like these poems.

     The second ‘i’ of the word missing is absent from the title of the book, and the poem ‘Missng’ is about our things and spaces after we – each ‘I’ – are gone. “a disembodied dress” and “a shirt without a soul.”  And maybe (despite the title of this review) Antony Di Nardo has gone fishing, a bit, as we all do when death gets up close and personal. A fisherman in ‘Bay of Quinte’ “casts his line beyond his reach.” There are a body of water, a human body; both are “part soul, part dump.”

     In the lovely ‘Hiding Places’ the poet is driving and walking on a mountain, referred to as ‘she.’ “she turns a corner and the sky goes missing.” Ordinary things listed, like hot dogs and blueberries, contrast with lines like “summer at the brink of being something else” and “something must be gone or going.” It’s melancholic, but there is beauty.

     It’s in the poem “All by Herself’ that we get the first direct reference to the dead friend on whom much of the book focuses. At a graveside visit, he thinks, how odd that she is still. “she was one of those birds I see / who can’t seem to settle on a branch for very long” and “these birds before me” … “weave back and forth / delight in song      and flit between these thoughts of her.”

     In ‘Amiss’ we are at the deathbed and in ‘The Sadness of One’ the poet has arrived at “the sadness of absence.” The poem ‘A Tree Gone Missing’ eulogizes a familiar landmark lost.


          listening for the wind

          like all leaves listened

          for her voice

          harboured shade

          hung like clouds

          shaped a canopy

          and draped

          an ecstasy

          that spread above

          and spilled below

          where the birds belong

     Something (and someone) essential has been lost from his life.

     The last poem in the first short section of this book is ‘Rabbit’s Foot.’ “poets make predictions / write reports on gaps they find between raindrops” and “a poet just gets lucky and finds what’s missing.” Although there is sadness, loss, Di Nardo is already offering redemption. The cover photograph is of sunlight sparkling on smooth water.

     Part 2 – GONE: the dead Susan poems – is where the heart of the book beats. And GONE is the only word in the book all in caps. As though the poet is trying to be firm with himself. She’s so gone.

     These are deathbed, funerary and first grief poems: they show his anger.

     ‘gone’ holds these clear lines: “we agreed now that darkness had arrived / she should leave // and then she was gone.”

     ‘benediction’ is full of painful energy.

          we were meant to fill our hearts and our shoes were

          sodden, the snow coming down grey and twisted like we

          were going way too fast and the windshield wipers

          couldn’t keep up and then it was too late and no one could

          see a fucking thing when they lowered the body and the

          ground was scarred, muddy and wet like a river the river

          itself had fallen into the hole

     A lesson in acceptance was learned from the dying one. From ‘beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful’: “she embraced the thought of dying when dying came / not the thought of stealing time // and wrote about it as if it were the purpose / of a poem.” And from ‘something Susan said’: “bad bones, bad breaks, bad performances, every bad memory / turns into fodder for worms // asleep, she said, asleep I’m rejuvenated / dead, how will I ever know.”

     Di Nardo takes comfort from using a quote by Sue Sinclair before his short poem ‘Susanspeak.’ The epigraph reads “What if the dead don’t leave.”

     And in the simply titled ‘Susan’ he honours his friend. “you are beautiful / my friend // and you deserve / a page / all to yourself.”

     He addresses her directly again in ‘what’s it like?’

dear Susan

                    what’s it like

                    being dead?

                    would I like it?

                    would I like it?

     Intensely emotional and private. I hear a sob between the last two lines.

     Parts 3 and 4 contain poems which don’t relate to Susan.

     ‘(True) Patriot (Love)’ is an interesting take on the politics of Quebec in Canada. “And still, when I gaze out my window there’s Quebec, a / woodpile stacked between two maples.”

     ‘Imagine This Poem as My Garage’ is kinda fun. He uses it as a reading and writing space. “It is not often you fall in love in a garage.” “From one smell (garage) I shall grow a new imagination –  / cardboard and grease, metal and paper, rubber and the / gears that I use when I write.”

     ‘Vastness’ – a longish poem – feels like it would make a good spoken word performance. There’s repetition and some rhyme. “Vastness in a teacup and the cinnamon aroma of chai and / the tendrils of wild grape that carry on for miles and miles / entangled in the woods along the Seaton Trail.”

There is the delightful Eine Kleine Nachtmusik celebrating spring and, in honour of spring peepers, the letter ‘p.’ “spring peepers turn on / before the stars turn on” and “peepers deep / in pocket purple / dark and yappy / harmonies / whisper like rain / might only ever say / the one-word rain.” “the one-word rain”: how nice is that?

     And in contrast, ‘Then Winter Came.’

          It took the purple silence

          of a quiet evening at home

          for the rain to play

          like it did for me to hear it

          against the glass.

          But it took the rain to stop

          and turn to snow

          for silence to write itself

          into the start of winter.

     As you can tell from the above two quoted-from poems, Di Nardo waxes extra lyric at the end of the book; and that’s a good thing, folks. In ‘Public Transit Pays’ he’s improbably riding a bus with Elizabeth May in his dreams.

In these dreams,

          I’m on commission

          selling the dream of wild swans

          and affordable real estate,

          making all the stops,


          among the geese, lanes

          and lanes of

          carbon neutral wings and

          ducks regurgitating

          acts of parliament

          to open skies.

          The poetry never ends.

     Thank you, Antony Di Nardo, for this book.

Louise Carson has published three collections of poetry: The Truck Driver Treated for Shock, Yarrow Press, 2024; Dog Poems, Aeolus House, 2020; and A Clearing, Signature Editions, 2015. She also writes mysteries and historical fiction. Her most recent books in those genres are The Cat Looked Back, Signature Editions, 2023; and Third Circle, land/sea press, 2022. Louise lives in the countryside near Montreal where she writes, runs and gardens