Summer 2005


Summer 2005


Every Insomniac Has A Story To Tell. Patrick Bizzaro. Independent Press: Greenville, North Carolina, 2005 (perfect bound, 72 pages).

You don’t have to be a biographical critic to believe Pat Bizzaro’s poems. They are true enough to not equivocate over whether they happened. Whether he sat behind “Dennis Beasock” or not, enough of us have that we are instantly “assigned to be punched.” It’s the blend of art and truth, artifice and reality, that is Bizzaro’s strength and charm.
Even if we haven’t specifically been forced into “Waiting at Church,” we’ve been where we are “weeping against the moment and must endure.” That grittiness is the backbone of Bizzaro’s poetry, as often tempered only by a slip inside a surrealistic fantasy for an escape, but not always to a safer place. Rather, it may be to “the soft skin of a dream, all language, a memory.” Or perhaps, as in the title poem, “Every Insomniac has a Story to Tell,” we find “things roll over in the dark before morning bursts through the house.”
This kind of poetry, blending where we come from with what we have been taught to be, is reflected in “Chain Reaction,” one of several poems in which a speaker remembers a very particular childhood, a father, a poignant pain. Of the father in the poem he says:
He's not the kind who'd kiss my bald spot. No,
he's the kind who'd knock to show
the hand dissolve to knuckles.
The poem is pre-eminently well-schooled, yet cutting-balancing between artifice (a conscious creation) and something actual and true. Life is, by definition, far crueler than art. Even Aristotle, after all, explained tragedy as something terrible that we enjoy because we can walk away from it!
A poem like “End of the Century, End of the World,” starts with an epigram by Robinson Jeffers: “When the cities lie at the monster’s feet, there are left the mountains.” Only a serious academic could begin that way! If the book continued in that fashion, however, many readers could be bored. But Bizzaro can balance against such erudition, lines from “Violence” describing a place where “every beer bottle turns sideways to duck.” I, personally, appreciate the art but admire most the authenticity. Bizzaro becomes that marvelous blend of talent that has grown from the most rudimentary roots.
Sometimes he gives us obscurity born of deep study, sometimes a conscious desire for deception (the very essence of artifice). Best, the roots of Bizzaro’s art are the tough streets of some cold, hard city, fathered by men who cared as best they could until their own sons could defend themselves.
In Part II of the book, the longest of the poems, “The Dream Undreamed,” gives us smoke puffed back down the chimney the way dreams can haunt us. The father/son riddle that Bizzaro fathoms in his own past unwinds into a new generation. Other poems that play on the power of personal emotion and disappointment resonate through the book. “Alone at the Palace Burlesque” gives us a marvelously melancholy sexuality:
... Women danced
onto the stage,
women older than I had planned
to watch. And when they disrobed,
I thought of flaccid layers of skin
tucked into girdles.
Bizzaro, a native of Buffalo, NY--which itself is not known as a particularly funny place--can weave these tough observations in between some well-trained metaphors, as in the poem “Taking the Cue” which gives us “young academics urinating in wastebaskets.”
Any book that can blend well-school poetics with humor and hard reality is well worth a read. When we are told “a bill for damages is $20 to clean human feces off the floor,” we know the poet is not a liar. He is a man who can admit in “The Product” that he’s “not learned a thing.” Rather, he tells us, “I will eat from the garden of faith until my tongue turns dark as the mysteries I dream.”
In the final lines of the final poem, “First Step into the Invisible,” Bizzaro reassures his children and his readers that “something invisible will be there to hold you.” Indeed, the beauty of Patrick Bizzaro’s creations is both palpable-earthy and convincing-and ephemeral-as mysterious as conscious metaphor. The poet and his creations are well worth the read. The book, the poetry will, itself, “be there to hold you.”


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