Reviews, Vol. 7.4, Dec. 2013
Four Way Books, 2010
Perfect bound, 83 pp., $15.95
Review by Cynthia Reeser
The poems of The Nervous Filaments by David Dodd Lee are filled with sporadic, unconnected images that are altogether too diffuse to glean much sense from. Sometimes, as with “The Future of the Nomads,” ellipses weaken already scattered images. This is pastiche without anything to glue it together, as can be seen in “Models Demand and Mutate”:
The trees are full of adjectives
a face like an elephant’s
slowly falls apart in your binoculars
what about the zoning laws?
but they rub themselves all over the tree with those legs
a thousand to the bottle
one by one you might tie them to hooks
a loose sac unravels
in the stomach and the revival begins
The search for a thread to hold together the disparate images in this collection is fruitless. Worse, some employ grotesque imagery (notably “Worship of the Astonished”) and while the titles of the poems are sometimes interesting, none of them actually relate to the content. Most disappointing in this regard is the poem titled, “Sylvia Plath,” which consists of more unrelated phrases cobbled together. Surprisingly, this poem has a mention in an end note, which indicates that a braid of Sylvia Plath’s actual hair is held at the Lilly Library in Bloomington, Indiana. The only thread we have from the poem to relate to this: “the braid of hair in your hand is thick as a rope.”
With so many amazing and tragic things happening this wide world of ours, it is a shame to waste one’s efforts on writing about nothing. I would encourage Lee to go back to the drawing board.