Review by Marjorie Maddox (info)

by Trey Palmisano

Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Charlotte, NC 28227; ISBN# 1-59948-036-0, 37pp.
In No Shadow of Turning, harbor lights "thread through open seams / that spread thin buildings wide." So, too, are our crevices--of both doubt and belief--pried open. In this book just out from Main Street Rag Press, Trey Palmisano uncovers what we hide. Here "ground breaks any spade / bold enough to open graves"; faith bubbles up, "ready to burst the seams"; and "desiccation signal[s] a grace/we struggle to make sense of." Scarecrows, Sartre, weeping statues, Icarus-like moths--all are "strange visionaries" forcing us to "shift [our] center of / gravity to weightless contemplation."
There is much in shadows here to contemplate. In "Here in the Bay," a woman--"somebody's Saturday night"--"finds the closest shadow, / and steps into her own." In "Pigtown Christmas," makeshift highway crosses "slope down the gravel / cul-de-sac where a graveyard of / car parts and broken lives / decay along the roadside." In "Drought," "even the birds hid[e] / their colors in briarwood, / sagewood, and tanglewood" while in "Where the World Ends," a dog food factory produces "a murderous stench so foul, / [the poet] no longer struggle[s] to / grasp a God with nostrils."
But there is also a lot of "turning" in Palmisano's No Shadow of Turning. Both the poet's and others' "turning away"--from hope, from God, from life, from action--give way to a "turning toward," a modern day Damascus experience, in which "you learn / the world again…a lilting breeze that/meets where two / rivers tangle." In the same poem, the mind is "slow and cumbersome, / like those who carry their/weight by memory." Still, as in the biblical allusion in the book's title, there is the promise of Light, of sight after blindness. There is the hush of praise, as in the poem "Rend": "not just creatures and stars [but]…how my wife ceases snoring / just before midnight….how a purple wave of light / ripples blue from the neighbor's / window, asleep beneath her / TV's sad company."
This is a book where eyes adjust to the dark, then begin to see differently. In the epigraph to his poem "The Real Tragedy of War," Palmisano quotes the poet Stephen Dunn, "oh, when it came to salvation I was only sure I needed to be spared someone else's version of it." This is Trey Palmisano's often gritty version. Do not make the mistake of turning away from these shadows.



Marjorie Maddox, Director of Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, has published 3 full-length books of poetry, 5 poetry chapbooks, 1 children's book forthcoming), and over 280 short stories, essays and poems in journals and anthologies. She is co-editor of COMMON WEALTH: CONTEMPORARY POETS ON PENNSYLVANIA; her short story collection, WHAT SHE WAS SAYING, was 1 of 3 finalists for the 2005 Katherine Anne Porter Book Award.


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