Light in All Directions
poems by Brandon Cesmat
Published by Poetic Matrix Press
93 pages, price $16.00
Winner, 2010 San Diego Book Award
"Light in All Directions is a remarkable piece of writing written as it
is with an amazing closeness to death. Sometimes, as in 'Tongues of Dust,' it is
from right inside death. 'At the wake, they won't stop saying my name. / That's
the point, I guess, to keep me from drifting too far.' Sometimes it is the death
caused by fire or bitterness or loss. But as you read, it does not harm you, instead
you are fearful for him, for how far he has entered places we should not go. Brandon's
writing is so sure and so honest you are willing to go where he takes you knowing
he will leave you with something of value, difficult though it is.
"Brandon Cesmat writes in these engaging poems about the peril of family values
and of Ronald Reagan sitting up in his casket to salute his victims. A pacifist
well aware of the dollars that float on the currents of blood, he is a man who sees
the comic irony in shooting space creatures on his son's X-box and who honors the
Lion of perpetual compassion as he recalls the impoverished braceros of his youth
and eulogizes the last Channel Island fox, Alameda whipsnake and leatherback sea
turtle. These are poems that shed light in all directions."
— Steve Kowit
Brandon Cesmat teaches literature and writing at several colleges in Southern California.
His first book Driven into the Shade received a San Diego Book Award. His
short story collection When Pigs Fall in Love & Other Stories is from
Caernarvon Press. He is an active teaching artist in California Poets in the Schools
(CPITS) and an active member in Teaching Artists Organize (TAO).
Cesmat harvests brush every summer with his wife and their three sons at their home
just above Paradise Creek in Valley Center, California.
From Light in All Directions:
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Flow Between Storms
Now that I have died
and the electricity of my mind has quieted,
I can see the spaces between atoms.
The solitude of my world has spread:
the skin over my hand,
the boulder in the shade
It no longer hurts to stare at the sun.
I cannot see the living except as smears.
Their breath the color of August grass
swirls through mouths and nostrils,
seeps into outlines of musculature,
disintegrates in green sparkles.
By their heights and postures, I recognize my family.
They move together, embrace and blur.
I reach as if they were a blanket I could wrap around me,
but my fingers cannot find the edge.
My wife's mind ripples in the wind of her ideas.
I place my ear to her lips,
but her voice passes through me.
Outside our backdoor, I sift into the boulder
resonating with old sound waves.
I silence myself to hear my family speak,
but only my words roll past again
when I am at last ready to listen.
A note from a guitar is a raindrop
that falls from the guitarist's mind,
falls from the electrical storms of
two gray clouds colliding behind the eyes,
through branches of fingertips, fretboard and
strings to splash on someone's eardrum.
A note is a seed with memory
of a limb's sustained reach for sunlight
and a root's grind through dirt to
grasp its fractal: another root.
The rain flows beneath the earth then up through sky.
Songs are trees shaped by the nearest wind and shade.
Listen to the diversity of songs,
the dense tone from a forest-born guitar compared
to open ring of the lone maple in the field.
Guitars are seeds exploding up and across the shell of sky.
The wood grain swirls in remembrance of earth's elements,
resonates with the woodcutter's saw, the crash of its own fall
and the luthier's touch, these fingerprints
fragments of evidence from making music,
a few drops from the storms.