Control Bird Alt Delete
by Alexandria Peary
by Christina M. Rau
About Christina M. Rau
Christina M. Rau is the author of the poetry chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Founder of Poets In Nassau, a reading circuit on Long Island, NY, her poetry has appeared on gallery walls in The Ekphrastic Poster Show, on car magnets for The Living Poetry Project, and most recently in the journals Crony, Redheaded Stepchild and The Main Street Rag. In her non-writing life, she practices yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions. Find her links on http://alifeofwe.blogspot.com.Facebook | Twitter
July 10, 2015
Control + Alt + Delete has become a mantra for those who have PC issues and need to restart their computers; this hot button command does the trick. Here, Alexandria Peary places a bird into the mix, and what ensues is a journey that wanders indoors and outdoors through mazes of nostalgia and dreams. Control Bird Alt Delete, the winner of the 2013 Iowa Poetry Prize, delivers a collection filled with imagistic wordplay that creates a curious landscape.
The tension between outside and inside begins with the first poems where the first of many “cellar hole[s]” appears within a rundown landscape. In “Fridge,” indoor appliances appear outside in disarray and in “Like That,” “An enormous snow-covered branch / is threatening the living room.” This contrast continues throughout many poems, expressing the way technology pulls us inside and the wonder of nature pulls us outside. In “In hallways made of dashes,” this technology becomes a maze “because those streets had been brought inside, / in a labyrinth carved out of nostalgia.”
This nostalgia and reoccurring struggle between worlds creates a lonely tone. The idea of the outsider appears, especially in a later poem, “The Coil.” Here, a litany of groups appears in a section about a shopping mall: “the packs, colonies, swarms, flocks, / the congress, troop, gang, congregation, / the mob, cast, brood, nest, / school, company, bevy, horde and covey, / all great & small” in contrast to “a Toyota Corolla & ¼ of a shopping mall,” a very lonely place. Often, the objects in these poems are static in places where movement could be. In “A Strip of Woods at the Back of the Mind,” the forest becomes the setting, as in many of the verses, but this natural setting has very little of the action the natural world should hold. This verse speaks of “Glued-on trees” and “strips of bricks” and sets them “in a woods in a box when the room of the mind / has an easy chair and 3 large trees.” The diction often includes lists of objects without verbs or the stagnant verb “to be,” so that everything simply exists.
Repetition and rhythm reinforce the cohesion of the poems, and without those, the collection seems scattered. “Lawn Ornaments, Robins, Ode to Clocks” begins, “The musical sentences / of soft blue and orange letters / blow across the yard,” but that is not the only place musicality comes through. “Bird Pattern” calls back to earlier poems in the collection and then alludes to bird songs, perhaps the original Jazz. Within this bird sequence, the speaker observes a “puzzle of sounds.” Some poems are more musical than others in which repetition really revs up as in “Oh, Massachusetts,” as it parallels the landscape with the a strumming beat, the speaker revealing, “I am only a mile from my heart.”
The journey picks up speed towards the end of the collection, taking on a narrative slant in some places. The scenes become populated with people who have names in addition to the objects and empty places. Movement appears in “Q&A” with “You leapt over the rock wall. Yes, repeatedly.” The introduction of “you” creates a more familiar and less lonely tone.
Overall, the scattered sense of organization is a drawback, but the intriguing balance of worlds combined with the mystery of mazes and memory offer insight into how humans live in today’s world.