Amy King's I Want To Make You Safe

Litmus Press, 2011, 87 pages



Dear Reader,

In the kingdom of Amy King’s I Want to Make You Safe, “we dance/ a music of paralysis petals/ that suspends the illusion of your feet…” King exposes the entry point, the space wherein barriers shift, where blockades in language create new dimensions and a reader is gently commanded to extend beyond blanched limitations of a glittering era toward the glitterati of a new millennium.  The simple act of thumbing the table of contents is in itself an opportunity for wonderment which begins an unraveling toward King’s signature uniqueness.  The titles to each poem are meditative kōans, ripping mysteries forward as precise offerings such as:  “The Destiny You Choose Is the one You Live Through”, “Men by the Lips of Women,” “Mockingbird Sways & Bicycle Hangs” and ”Eclipse the Light & Crudely Divide.” These rich reflections allow the visual imagination to flourish before the poems gravitate toward a deeper understanding, and are in themselves acts which merit literary honor. Litmus Press has provided an exquisite collection of King’s work to emblaze upon the hungers of the literary scene, consequently feeding readers the best of the best, a truly ripe poetry collection which creates obsessive cravings from readers who demand high caliber poetry, stunning, fresh. Turn after turn King offers self exposure followed by a thunderous sense of will which creates an intimate power between reader and poet: “I’m in love with a man who doesn’t love me/ with the pages of the book he sees from./ He makes love through his syllabic ink, a salted thunder,/leaves me to my own delirium tremens.”  Who has not felt the lapse, the tremble of love, followed by a collapse in the heart/mind, a turbulence any relationship may offer.  King develops a stunning tension, “in the hunger of how, the thirst of why…” she energetically and inexhaustibly investigates the embodiment, that untarnished commitment to language that flows through synapses of the body’s musculature so that the very “orb of fire passing between our lips,” that shared experience of poetry, is felt not only by the conjuring of the poet, but released upon the reader, wherein the experience of emotion as language is consequently absorbed and remains ever transformative.  Greater than any nutrient or ale. King’s poems line after exquisite line allow readers to “Open the can, let the dragon win.”   Tipping a hat to Rilke’s “you must change your life,” King writes: “Such a lovely cross to wear, not one place that does not see you: you must return to life” dispelling the illusion that life is a nihilistic journey, an obstacle to be overcome, a tangible to be reformed, or an operatic which is drama worthy.  Instead, King depicts an extraordinary, unique existence in a unsullied universe, “the last grain of light on a planet in dusk,” a throbbing consciousness in which “we alone face our time;” compelled as we are to embrace the making of our own reality—

“Until, grooming and mewing
we birth the baby wren,
full of downy coos,
the tiniest nest within
our mouths’ open bellies
thinning now, we love.”

Indeed, King’s collection is highly love worthy.


 Maureen Alsop




Maureen Alsop is an Associate Poetry Editor for Poemeleon.