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twilight of the male ego, klipschutz

Reviewed by Gene Doty

twilight of the male ego

Tsunami Press
Walla Walla
Washington. 2002. 
$12 US
Tsunami, Inc.
PO Box 100
Walla Walla, WA 99362-0033

First off, this book is physically solid: trade paperback, sewn binding, four-color cover on heavy stock. Layout and typography are impeccable. I mention these things because one never knows what a small-press will turn out to be.

Granted, garbage can be beautifully packaged. However, with twilight of the male ego , we have a quality package with quality content.

klip has contributed ghazals to The Ghazal Page .

The poems in twilight have more free verse poems than ghazals, but its eight ghazals are striking. klip’s free verse has a strong sense of line and stanza, by the way. Some of them are also hilarious.

This review will talk mostly about the ghazals in twilight. The eight ghazals are gathered in their own section.

Apothygms, epigrams, wisecracks. Sets of couplets to decouple the familiar from the already known. To propel the reader into a new and exotic realm–daily life.

The titles of these ghazals set a field for the disparate sentences that follow, sentences filled with oblique comment, aperçus, images of contemporary life. The titles, from another angle, function as koans, as enigmatic statements to which the poems are the solutions–and, of course, the poems do not resolve rationally, analytically. Instead, the poem resolves its title with a slightly giddy wit.

As a for-instance, take “Ghazal of the Café La Bohème. Here is an ambiance of go-players, philosophical/artistic chit-chat, with an abrupt shift to a Sufi aperçu–the fourth couplet begins

Life hits us with the Answer Stick.
reminiscent of Rumi’s
The world is the mountain,
and each action, the shout that echoes back,

Rumi, as translated by Camille and Kabir Helminske, in Rumi: Daylight

The next couplet quotes “the sage of the corner of 24th and Lithium.” And the ghazal ends with an extra line of one syllable:

Parents are not your enemies, they just have their own agenda.
Sad + Sad = Whoa Nellie. Sunshine of your love? All in favor say

klipschutz places each word like a go stone, surrounding the territory where the reader’s awareness hides.

The opening couplete of “The Ghazal of the Phantom Pleasure” illustrates klip’s wit and turn of image:

Two doppelgängers walk into a bar, and with their eyes
sweet-talk the pants off the shadow of the cocktail waitress.

After this narrative feint, the rest of the ghazal touches on various facets of Self and Other, ending The first farewell is free.” For this reader, at least, that clause focuses entire areas of sorrow and hope.

I don’t want to end this review without a comment on some of the other poems in Twilight of the Male Ego. klipschutz’s wit rings changes on affairs, friendships, politics, cats . . .

The beginning of A Cinematic Affair”:

The lighting was film noir–
smokey close-ups,
narrow, moody streets,
every color in the rainbow of grey.
`From “My House Is Your House and So Is Yours”:
excuse me but we have mutual friends
who speak of you often and not without
gaping veneration
(Anti-friendship, actually, in this poem, which ends,
perhaps you can whip up a quick sermon in the blender
to keep the hounds of hell at bay just a bit longer.)
He addresses Ezra Pound’s anti-semitism in
Dear Ezra, You died. Class dismissed. All that noise.
Well, the Jews they’re still with us–
one of ’em’s my worst enemy:

He continues to mock Pound’s flaws, including the phrases, you / may be a bit of a Jew yourself” and Your schoolgirl crush on Mussolini.”

And much more. I recommend you buy this book and read it.

About larrygates

Web developer of Ghazal Page. Sometime pseudonymous ghazalkar.