Greg Gregory’s intriguing poetry collection, Blue Tin Sky, focuses on the radiance that attention gives ordinary things.
The poems in this volume involve a “search for things luminous,” and Gregory’s insights give such prosaic things as tumbleweeds a wonderful significance that reverberates beyond the poem’s end: “Valley tumbleweeds/ black from months of wetness, hunch twisted,/ their coils caught against fences/ in the barbed wire/ their darkness a resonance/ in the cool pearl light.”
Gregory’s voice is sometimes rueful (“Come lunch in baskets of regrets”), sometimes nostalgic. His topics deal with memories, choices and the ways we try to make sense of our lives.
The poet has a superb ability to see things afresh, conjuring new ways of looking at things. Thus, in “Afterimage,” desert owls swoop down for a meal, then “disgorge owl pellets,/ reliquaries for packrat bones,/ canopic jars/ for the lives of small/ sentient beings.” In a vacant house, the speaker watches the play of light in which “a parallelogram of sun creeps across a carpet/ stretches itself in a chair.” In “Treefrogs in the Spa,” the speaker describes the transparent look of two frogs discovered in a covered spa, where they have rested dormant for months: “…their skin turned almost albino, faint lines still left/ seeming like patterns of tall, thin mountains/ that I saw once in a Chinese painting./ A monk was climbing the mountain through images of snakes, birds and butterflies.”
Despite the poet’s obvious skill, some offerings are little more than tone pieces that fail to move beyond the setting or metaphor. Gregory also occasionally resorts to abstracts that can be puzzling; for example, he has Don Quixote ride off into “the insubstantial light invincible as an/ imaginary number.” Elsewhere, a loon cries “like a void in ripples of stars.”
Regardless of such moments, poetry readers will find a wealth of insight and surprising imagery in Blue Tin Sky—enough luminous instances to make it well worth the read.