You Are the Battery
Black Square Editions, 2019
Cover art by Joy Feasley
Available September from Small Press Distribution
When you read a Devaney poem, he is fully “there,” although to himself he is “now.” He takes you into his observations, common enough subjects of contemplation, and makes them subtle as he turns them around for you in the light of his attention. Voilà, the uncommon, the camouflage reality wears. He offers a perfectly finished narrative puzzle (“How to Keep Alive”), a mental collage that really works (“The Pileup”), a wry down-to-earth Irish nostalgia without false sentiment (“One of Those Songs”). He can make a head-bending perception seem simple through care of construction (“When I Felt Free”). Exactness and restraint. Born-to-tell stuff. You Are the Battery and me, we got engaged. You’ll read this book a few times over. And come back.
Thomas Devaney’s You Are The Battery is an intimate address to poetry, friendship, and the culture we attend to and relish in to define a sense of the inner life. His poems are “right where I was looking,” but didn’t realize I was until his poem called my attention to how the “views are miraculous,” or to his “genuine voice,” which I can’t help thinking about. His voice is embedded in the collective and stunning articulation of unfettered feelings. He builds descriptions that have a quotidian enchantment, exploring their nuanced feelings: “Our spirits ceased to brood, but the scent of the wet dog stayed on.”
“All poems begin as love poems”—Thomas Devaney reminds me of this truth, and I needed to be reminded. Now I hear the keening of love in these poems of lost habitations, crooked chairs, frozen cables, corkscrewed memories, poems that have the vista of dead mountains and the intensity of dreams.