The poetry in Kirk Patrick Thornton’s collection Chaos’ Children delivers an original and often unexpected reading experience.
The visual form of the poems is consistent throughout; four-line stanzas with the second and fourth lines indented, which creates a wave-like pattern. This super-structure fits well with the hypnotic, shivery syntax that carries throughout the book, as in the poem “Never Would She…,” which mixes visual imagery with a dream-like stutter: “WarmerMoreIntenseYellowDesires DrawHim Towards… / A DifferentSource; Where…Did…That…There… / GoThere…YesYesYesYesYes…As HePlunges into Cold- / DarkDarkness; WonderingIfEvers; and WhatIf-“
While some of the titles seem vague and mawkish, such as “Dreaming Through Illusions” and “Weeping,” others are specific and enjoyably surprising, such as “Cybernetic Christs,” “Owl Clever,” and “Psyche Down.”
One of the major pleasures of Thornton’s style is his plentiful use of kinesthetic and kinetic imagery, as in “So-Dancing,” which contains both human and other kinds of movement: “Discarded-Lost in this no-regret frenzy-fray; a whirl-whirl stop- / Hold, then A She-Gathering in an Arm-Surround with a / Wrapped Through Spirit-KissKissing back-forth; a winding / Harmony-Frolic in a growing-knowing; and…So-“
The atmosphere throughout the collection is mystical and loosely allusive to the god-worlds of the ancient Norse, Greek, Roman, and Christian. The poem “Night Walk,” for example, captures awe and a process of perception: “More SkyBolts arrive only to OakDie; but NotBefore an Idea- / Nurturing; an AmazeFrieze in the face of this Shadow- / Starlight World’s WondrouslyTerrifying Revelations Seen- / Thought-Seen, heardThoughtheard and feltThoughtfelt…”
Thornton has achieved something unique with Chaos’ Children. Readers who can embrace a syntactical adventure, and don’t mind a bit of gothic-esque melodrama and monotony of form, may find this book intriguing and occasionally even mind-bending.
Also available in hardcover.