Adam Tedesco’s Ablaza poems walk that razor thin line between the accessibility of imagery and the complete restructuring of how words can interact with each other. Poem after poem feels like a heated mescaline fever-state, but one where you’re just aware enough to keep going, keep walking, taking in each flash and fury of this kaleidoscope existence.
In the first and second poems, Tedesco offers two of my favorite lines, respectively: “Beyond the trees there’s a road where lights string out in slow lines of whip” and “Truth in life a narrow band of frequencies in each breath maybe one part per million”. It’s like driving through the desert and catching snippets of stream-of-consciousness whispering on the radio, white stripes passing in the headlight beams, all alone on a vision quest featuring “elk walk and fire trail,” rock piles and half dead yucca.
The collection is made more a slipstream journey by not adding any titles to the individual poems (although the first lines are cataloged in a table of contents) and the deeper you go the more consumed you become by the spirit of Ablaza, a near religion by the end, “the one true golden eagle” as Tedesco explains it. The pieces become a whole, like the canopy of individual trees making a forest, sheltering you from guiding stars. There’s a rumble of danger and possibility in the poems, an addictiveness I enjoyed.
When I first encountered Tedesco at a reading of Reality Beach poets (he is the founding editor of that indie publishing house), it was very apparent that image, sound, and experimentalism play major roles in the work he published, and the same traits are featured in his own poems, but he hits that sweet accessible spot, as I noted earlier. This is the kind of experimental poetry that doesn’t drive you away scratching your head, but instead invites you in, asking questions, taking another step deeper to find out what this means, what that means, drawn in by the wordplay, drawn into the darkness toward the distant fire. Keep going. You’ll get there, and Tedesco will be waiting, dancing around the flames, singing Ablaza and enticing you to do the same.
Ablaza isavailable from Lithic Press, and it’s collection only a fool would miss.
- James H