BY CHARLES RAMMELKAMP
Author: Eric Greinke
2014, Presa Press Books
Filed Under: Poetry
Containing a selection of poems spanning five decades, Eric Greinke’s new book, For the Living Dead is a sort of “greatest hits” collection chosen by the poet himself. Across the years, his work embraces many of the same themes, concerns and styles , a playful but serious meditation on the universe around us, both the natural and supernatural. Take “The Insomniac,” written in 1973 when Greinke was twenty-five.
I lie awake
where the river bends:
the jams of logs,
the broken, confused
rocks, (heads of frightened
bathers), deep funeral places.
I breathe the murky shadows.
I float incessantly
above the weeds. I suck
the black muck. Every morning
I am killed by the hot passing sun.
Compare this with “Cold Oceans” written thirty-eight years later.
I sit by my open window.
A lake breeze brings the outside in.
The white pine tree makes its green stand
Between me & the foggy lake..
It grows taller with each season,
But I do not.
My height has eroded since my age increased.
Even the Rockies re half the size
Which they were a million years ago.
The wind brings the scent of the lake to me.
It blows my countless blessings
Beyond cold oceans.
Both poems have the same cadence, the same pace (“I lie awake…”; “I sit by my open window…”). But more than that, both are solidly grounded in the natural world, the world we take in through our senses. But equally we are taken beyond our perceptions to contemplate the “murky shadows’ and the “foggy lake,” what is hidden from us. This dual action is present throughout Greinke’s work, at times flying off to post-apocalyptic speculation and surreal imagery. Continue reading