Waiting for the Wave
Robert Walton. Pighog Press, 2012
Number 2 in their Passport Series
Pighog Press has done a marvelous job presenting Waiting for the Wave, Robert Walton’s new collection of poetry. The book is just the right size to slip into the breast pocket of your sport coat once you find your seat on the train, and you will withdraw it time and again to be transported by the poetry. Walton opens his book with a quote (though he uses the original French) from the internationally known The Little Prince:
“I always loved the desert.
It sits on a sand dune.
It is nothing. Means nothing.
And however something radiates in silence…”
These are the words used to engage the reader’s mind as an epigraph for Waiting for the Wave, and references to the senses of a pilot alone over the desert simmer off the page in the poem “Pillbox.” Walton utilizes the verbs ‘watched,’ ‘spotted,’ ‘heard,’ ‘glimpsed,’ ‘waited,’ and ‘listening’ in the 5 tercets of this evocative poem, and lines like these can come but from a poet that has spent a good portion of time bathing in long periods of warm solitude. The next poem, “Triangulation,” is a tri-part work complete with introduction. A poet’s job is to write well enough for images to rise like bread from the oven of a reader’s chest, and in the second section of the poem “Swingbridge,” I can see, I can hear
“…carriages clattering, wagons and drays rolling,
the clunk of horses and livestock,
the clutter of jetty lumber and chandlery –….”
I can even smell the sense of place rendered by Walton. “Underfall Sluice” has more than enough references to being below the surface of water to help me feel sure the poet is dabbling in his unconscious. Denser poetry would be opaque, but Robert leaves enough of a crack in his oak door stanzas to let light shine into the room. For those who look, rewards abound. “Surf” provides the title (buried at the end of the first section) of the book, but the word-processor gymnastics provided me with little more than confusion. Form and unity are Walton’s strengths, and though these tab exercises can be all the rage for some (I refer to the empty-calorie poetry regularly churned out on this side of the Atlantic), I still look to the words on the page, and this poem’s words left me wanting. In his notes, Walton writes that “Surf” is a poem written for performance with music, and I imagine that would greatly help the work’s cohesion. The balance of pronouns he uses in the quatrains of “Coastal” nicely juxtapose with the deliberate imbalance of the subject matter, and “Up the Bluebirds!,” the exquisite poem Walton dedicates to his father, was as tender a portrayal of father-son relationships as I’ve read. It’s only a writer in touch with his inner life, and I can assure you Mr. Walton is, that can depict how he acknowledges his father’s passions without having to identify with them. “Up the Bluebirds!” ends rhapsodically:
“Somewhere in a wardrobe in my house
a Bluebirds scarf, bought years ago outside
the ground, lies folded in the dark.”
These lines describe the vicarious pleasure of sports fan(atics) everywhere. The numerous allusions to the life of Antoine de St. Exupery in the poem ‘Nomad ‘64” sent me scurrying to the library for a biography of his life, and this sprawling work brings the chapbook full circle.
The Sebaldian meandering that inhabits Robert Walton’s Waiting for the Wave is just the passport we need to explore new lands without ever boarding a plane.
available from Pighog Press