Fetishes of the Floating World
Sometimes, it spellbinds you like an old fairy tale focussed through a spyglass that zooms in and out with meditative rhythm. Other times, it fastens your attention down firm like an electron microscope drilling into the atomic level. However you experience it, Don Domanski’s Fetishes of the Floating World serves as both mystical work of art and exploration of modern poetic consciousness.
These 18 tightly interwoven poems are based in a postmodern pastoral setting – that is, both a walk in the woods and a step outside the mind. Fetishes provides a base for the poet to play with a Whitmanesque dialogue on the universal and the particular. But Domanski’s is a Whitman for the newest century, where we are awash in and overwhelmed by information and experience.
This is complex yet primordial stuff. The lyrics flow in dense waves from the narrating poetic consciousness. The instinctive will at its centre casts for a reprieve from mortality in science, nature and religion. At the same time, it attempts to, at first subsume, then simply coexist with, the universe as it draws in and out of its surroundings, as well as in and out of itself. At one point, the poet spies, in the heart of the landscape,
“[a]n old chevy convertible lying in a ditch
two maple saplings growing up through
its frame one in the driver’s seat one
in the back the road ahead filled with
and, shortly after, will be hauled further in, towards “the place just beyond language…where the keening starts”.
At other moments, the poet abruptly backs himself out to focus on traditional muses like “the waning moon sleeved with a thin cloud” or leaps out further still to “exoplanets/and constellations” and “the scaffolding/to hang them on”.
This pulsing perspective, continually mixing subjective and objective, earthly and extraterrestrial, provides the overarching structure for the chapbook. Sometimes, the poet is transforming the scenescape into his own story; other times, he finds that he has been swallowed and tries to negotiate his way out and up again to a higher plane.
Domanski matches this constant shifting with a roiling imagery, stirring the fabulist in with the scientific (“watching/dark and votive chromosomes slowly drift/across the pond’s surface”) and the mundane with the hyper-modern (“flash mob of ants”).
Whitman, in another age, wrote about leaning, loafing, finding both the infinite and transient in blades of grass, sharing atoms, weaving the song of himself through them all, and becoming a veritable “kosmos” that contains it. Here, the 21st century bard has happily lost that battle and thrown himself into a universe where subject and object almost inextricably blend.
Float in through here.