When I Don’t Know What to Call This
Flowers I can’t name bloom in a pink profusion namelessly complete—if I say petal, what else have I done but make each one one and the same by giving them one name? Flowering,the tree itself has said it all already, more eloquently, the way our days together— moment by moment—once said themselves as perfectly as one could ever wish time to be said. That time now gone without our havingdiscovered what to term this time apart— minutes prolific as leaf after greeny leaf— I must come to trustthese days will say themselves as certainly as petal or stem, and that on some unknown one soon, we’ll find ourselvesdaydreaming in the fallen ring of them.
Copyright © 2018 by Stephen Kampa
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Stephen Kampa was born in Missoula, Montana, and raised in Daytona Beach, Florida. His previous books are Cracks in the Invisible (Ohio University Press, 2011), which won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and the Gold Medal in Poetry from the Florida Book Awards, and Bachelor Pad (Waywiser, 2014). His session work can be heard on Robert “Top” Thomas’s The Town Crier (WildRoot Records) and Victor Wainwright’s Boom Town (Blind Pig Records). He teaches at Flagler College.
“What first impresses and finally astounds in Stephen Kampa’s new collection is the unflagging richness of his invention and virtuosity of his execution, the way in which technical precision allows him to speak to us in an amazing variety of registers. We are privy to existential dilemmas and prone to collapsing in helpless laughter, sometimes on the same page. As was said of Ovid, Stephen does not know when to stop. Good for him and good for us.”
“Stephen Kampa’s latest collection moves crisply between registers, sounding out ‘the revelations / of rhythm’ by which a man measures his life. Whether his subject is a tropical cyclone or an overflowing toilet, Kampa renders it with precision and wit, and each poem’s intricate architecture expands or contracts to suit the occasion. Elegant, wise, and resolutely tender, these are songs of experience, and Stephen Kampa is a masterful singer.”
“Stephen Kampa’s poems can ‘count the seconds, click by weighted click, / As though they were the tumblers to a safe,’ until what has been locked away in darkness—the musings of our moral and ethical lives—is revealed. His classically poised verses make a winningly modern music, and his recurring themes (also classical!) of lust and booze, culture shocks and attenuated verities have never been fresher.”