RUMMY PARK by REBECCA LU KIERNANFIONNA DONEY SIMMONDS Reviews
Rummy Park by Rebecca Lu Kiernan
(E-Published by www.deaddrunkdublin.com, 2006)
A Grand Passion
I love Rebecca Lu Kiernan’s poetry. It is passionate, raw, honest and strong. I imagine her after each poem either sitting back exhausted or striding joyously along the beach with her head thrown back, filled with exhilaration at the unloading of her creative soul and throwing sticks for her puppy as far as her superhuman feeling will allow her. In Rummy Park, Kiernan’s collection of poems and images offers one a journey into a no-holds barred relationship. Each of her poems in the series read as a love letter: to herself, to her former lover, to her present lover, to the future. This is poetry that aches with the legendary Grand Passion. Surreal images of ‘giant’ balloons, mannequins in buses, statues of angels and photographs of neighbourhoods at night work to create a basis from which the fictional Rummy Park springs. Rebecca Lu Kiernan’s words do the rest. Each image adds extra meaning to the poems, drawing just an ounce more out of the words and vice versa.
The up and down journey of this Grand Passion tells of the poet’s surrender to her emotions and instinct, of these being tempered by her memories and the fear her past relationship has not been wholly laid to rest, and of her struggle to remain herself. This surrender and fear are felt with every word.
Will you be my winter love?
Will you stay through spring?
Will you tell the other angels goodbye
And thanks for everything?
--2. Other Angels
The simplicity of this final stanza is childlike. She doesn’t demand, she asks. Humility and insecurity haunt every word. Images crop up again and again throughout this collection; the grey dog, suitcases, X, celestial beings: and each ties the poems together.
I was unbreakable before that night,
A kiss so unexpected and so kind.
I was safe, angelically certain
In the secret sanctuary of my
The universe spinning,
Stars raining down.
The green sea was a new voice calling.
You could not swim.
You crossed your arms.
My darling, I kept falling
Into the pedestrian green sea,
Calm, a silence that never spoke to me.
Or, is it that I could not hear
Until your wings thrashed so unwishingly near?
I find Kiernan to be a chameleon with her poetry. She can write the softest most melancholy of lines but then a wicked sharpness is also part of her style. Kiernan’s words can slash across the page. Personally, I cannot get enough of her poetry. I can read it again and again, and I do. Kiernan holds nothing back. She abides by no rules. Take the poem "Say You Will", for example, the detail is excruciatingly precise. I didn’t know what my perineum was until I fell pregnant!
I have no right to ask.
You’ll maul me like the creature of my dream.
You’ll come in my hair on my wedding day
Deflowering the baby’s breath
In my tight French twist.
You’ll spill wine on my eggshell white gown.
You’ll crush my calla lily bouquet
Under your anaconda boots.
You’ll jam both my nipples into your mouth
Just as he says, “I do.”
You’ll take my panties down and spank me
With your monogrammed turquoise belt.
You’ll tongue my perineum
In the reception line.
You’ll eat smoked salmon
Out of your black cowboy hat
And fall ass backwards
Into my seven layer cake.
After I have apologized for your behaviour,
You’ll break into our honeymoon suite
And just when I
Am coming on my new husband’s face
You’ll force me to ass fuck him
With a purple strap-on cock
See how you always ruin everything?
--56. Say You Will
The fact that Kiernan has also published a book of erotica may come as no surprise. She does not shy away from anything and I love the fierce freedom with which she writes. Despite some of the more explicit of lines, these poems are more romantic than any Mills and Boon or Barbara Taylor Bradford. One emotion, one memory, and one man after another beset our vulnerable heroine, and this reader couldn’t help but envy the adventure of that love. I consider Kiernan among the very finest poets of our generation. In her poetry are the finest examples of what poetry can achieve. So it is with a sense of frustration that I once again complain about errors being made in the transference of poetry on to the web. Any site that handles poetry and other writing should be especially diligent. Deaddrunkdublin.com has let Rebecca Lu Kiernan down with some sloppy proofreading. So when Rebecca emailed me with a taster of her next collection and said she hoped to get it published in print, I was overjoyed. I only hope the wise publisher that takes her work on proves to have less margin for error. Big things lie ahead for this poet.
Fionna Doney Simmonds is the Poetry Editor for ezine Moondance.com and reviews regularly for other ezines and magazines. Passionately commited to the written word she is doing all she can to restore Poetry to its rightful place as Queen of literature.