Already It Is Dusk by Joe Fletcher, is an intense poetry chapbook on Brooklyn Arts Press that feels like it came from the verge between light and darkness, in a place of shifting landscapes, crawling things and crumbling memories.
Our introspective journey begins with the opening lines of the poem Antenna: “Let us return to the discipline. Let the melons be halved and set to drink the sky’s cool milk. A leaf is born. Brigades advance, bearing in their flesh the recipes for unborn cities.”
These “dusk” poems are brewed with their own recipe of decay, depth, displacement and danger that something may be missing. In the poem My Name is Dallas, we are plunged into a dreamscape with powerful lines such as: “In the morning, father was gone. We never saw him again, though sometimes we receive photographs of a Japanese bridge, and once we found a bag of strange vegetables on our doorstep. Mother silently sautéed them, lost in thought.”
In this chapbook, we travel to Baja, Madagascar, the Urals, Asian villages, Syria and Texas. We search for our own place as in the poem Emigrants: “If you push us we walk into the forest in search of rowanberries and the gold-rimmed eyes of ravens peering from leaves.”
Throughout Already It is Dusk are questions with barbs, and the natural world teetering with the intrusion of man as in these lines from Thicket: “You crouch to plug your finger in a snake hole and feel—if for an instant—you were suffocating the earth.”
After rereading the poems, I still feel like there is something submerged in the depths that I have yet to unearth as in The Wounded Americans final lines: “All our want got ragged, broke and drifted like a scrim above our gathering. Where was our next dwelling? We sunk sleepward.”
Joe Fletcher is a poet that understands the power of mystery and invites us to enter this cocoon of a collection and let the darkness cast familiar things in an unfamiliar light.
– Martin Ott