Sky Harbor, by Miles Waggener.
Pinyon Publishing, 2011.
Review by Debrah Lechner
Sky Harbor is the poetic name of the massive international airport in Phoenix, Arizona. However, “Harbor” is not always the equivalent of “haven,” as Waggener suggests in one poem. This book of poetry is about hellos and goodbyes, departures and arrivals, but is not really about coming home. In this poetry, the restlessness of the culture we live in, our always changing and unstable social environment, meets the landscape of the undeniable, immanent desert in this flight of memory and vision of days to come.
The sky is never far away in the imagery in this volume of poetry―whether the sky is the location of the poet, viewing horses from an airplane; a medium for birds to move through; a partner to the sun, or the very meaning of the horizon. The entire collection leans toward the sky like a plant seeking light, and there is a craving for the release and quest of flight that, hominids that we are, is never quite answered by travel.
From “Bird in a Box:”
from the arc of its name, call it
a stray, a spool of thread through
thicket, of searing line,
to indigo fluting through tears, from
the glyph’s load that is too much,
to a hand that a larger hand
may―if it stops shaking―
close around, distance no more
than a crescent in the sky and the wish
to replace distance
with proximity, and then take it.
The poetry in this volume is eminently readable and re-readable. It inspires the reader’s own memory and insight, and my hope is that it will be experienced by a wide audience.
A word about the book and its cover before ending this review. I love it. I love the color, the jet stream of words, the galaxy--like opening in the night sky--, the city lights. I think the cover and the very shape of the book is witty, reminiscent of airplane magazines. Pack it to enjoy on your next flight.
Miles Waggener is also the author of Phoenix Suites, which won the Washington Prize. Sky Harbor can be acquired at Amazon.com and from most other booksellers.