By Vernon Ng
Stone Buddhas. Metal Buddhas. "Undigested bits of plastic." The lines of a poem in a single sweep: "demitasse / caviar / absinthe / bouillon / silver / spoon / washboard / & jug.” An obsession with material things so grossly pervades Adamantine that one nearly misses how necessary they are to these beautiful poems. Objects exist here to mark time, so that inner states — meanness, kindness, altruism — might be expressed through them. The collection’s best poems have the appropriately glossy luster suggested by their book’s title — a lament of surfaces perhaps, a reveling in the paradox of sacredness. The poems are most successful when they reside in tentativeness and enact alienation; they are less successful when they moralize hot topics in current events. As a whole, Adamantine is a testament to the notion that meditation is not merely an emptying of the mind, but an active cultivation of being by being among things — because in these mortal bodies, “we could travel no / further than that.” The collection helps the reader to cultivate a thoughtful pose, which certainly is the foundation for an ethically lived existence.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!