Keep

Chapbook, Deborah Poe,  above/ground press, abovegroundpress.blogspot.com, $4

Twice in this collection, Deborah Poe  finds herself in conversation with Zen  Master Dogen (1200-1253). It’s a fitting  backdrop for Keep — a set of poems that  reads like a meditation. Poe’s focus is on the brain, mind,  memory and the senses — how they’re  intertwined, how they’re different, and  how much of their nature is reducible  to tangible measurements. She divides  dreams into “memory units.” She  condenses the act of keeping a memory  to “scattered thunderstorms” of frontal  lobe fibers in a “sky mind,” where  the retrieval of memories depends  on efficient vs. inefficient memory  components. She pulls back the curtain  on sensations to reveal the frontal  cortex analyzing sensory inputs and the  brain filling in gaps: “beings bridge the  distance between bodies and tree.” This has all been done before, of  course, but Poe manages the balancing  act between science and mystery with  a deft hand, leaning — suspiciously too  far, it seems — towards science holding  the winning hand. Her insistence leaves  you feeling like she purposefully pushed  too hard in one direction, in order to  trick you into going the other. Anyone who enjoyed Jon  Paul Fiorentino’s collection of  pharmaceutical verse,  Hello Serotonin,  will fnd something to like in  Keep.  (Scott Bryson)

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