Those familiar with the spiritual poetry of Gordon Walmsley know that he writes like an angel. This does not mean sweetness and light. Rather, this means a voice, or voices, which use words as DNA fragments: alive; runic; beautiful; unprotected; on a quest – parallel, or not, to the poet’s own quest. Companions, certainly, words and the poet. Risk, without a trace of stress. ‘Braille’ here implicates sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. The book is in fact not a collection, it is one continuous poem. Elements expand and contract, interpenetrate translucently: vastness and detail (‘an Irish blanket makes the chair better’); I, you, he, she, it, they. Flashes, too, of other poets (are they really there?): the pre-Socratics, Vaughan, Dickinson, others. Other flashes, of 2018: ‘terrorists’, ‘money.’ The poet urges his listeners (who are they? himself? the reader? the sea? death?) to concentrate, because voices, whether internal or external, are only aids to the heart. And this is a book of the heart:
Concentration means to encircle
and tighten. Like a coil you
pull in. Or a rope.
A press to squeeze lemons.
Richard W. Halperin