When the Cicadas Return






Songs for the Extinction of Winter
Rob Cook
Rain Mountain Press, 2007

It’s hard to take an art derived from a series of odd synapses in brains, crossing cultures, dissolving boundaries, touching something not previously touched, feeling the wind arise from a revenant’s hidden corner. The wind hypnotizes…and you are lost, surrounded. And as this wind moves this one in that direction, it moves another differently. Prods different steps, seeks other hideouts.

And then once in a while, comes this one guy, he’s walking kind of slow, taking it all in. Sure he feels the wind…but just a little ahead of time so he stills himself to not be afraid. He allows it to wash over and through him until it becomes part of him.

And once it’s part of him it leaks out from the splits in his seams and the holes in his pockets and the gaps between his teeth…and he must sing it or dance it or make poetry of it. And when he does, people are moved more than they are by the seduction of the muse or the insistence of the angel…as Lorca knew so well… are moved by duende.

And that guy, the one who knows how to meet the wind, the one you need to read, the one who understands. ..the man who wields surrealism like a wand to summon memories in surprise tastes, measures from poignant to bittersweet….sometimes just plain bitter, that man whose words makes your blood rush dark and furtive… that guy is Rob Cook. Just read his poem “Birthday of the Thirty-Five Geminis.”

And so the circle…the Ourorboros eats its tail.

I didn’t make the connection until a few months later, after being seduced by Cook’s lines in poems such as “Elegy for a Master in an Age Without Masters,” “Hypoglycemia,” or the series of poems named in the book’s title and find the melancholy hidden between the spaces.

Frederico Lorca married duende to surrealism, inspired by painting (Dali), who was inspired by psychoanalysis (Freud) who was inspired by his patients’ dreams. I was unnerved and shook up by the surrealists, finally “getting it” after all these years. I’d been launching my own search thanks to “The Aristos” by John Fowles and Heraclitus, Jung and Vanilla Sky and Stay, and I discovered there were many paths to the same experience….the Gnostics, Illuminati, Alchemists, Buddhists, Shamans., hallucinogenic aficionados. Each had found their own way to the center. But the Surrealists?

Not in a million years did I see them there, even though the connection was deep in my solar plexus, complex, perplexing.

Appolinaire put a name on it, Andre Breton’s spelled it out in the “Surrealist Manifesto” not quite poetic, but emphatic. And of course, it’s all there…surreal…not just a fancy title to explain melting clocks and broken swans, but just what it says…beyond the real. Beyond the mundane reality to individualistic personal to the unio manifesto.

Rob Cooke, as a surrealist poet, proves it’s not a skill like harnessing, but a release, like inviting the wind in. And when the wind and the poet become one, the duende, the deep song from the center comes alive and breathes its momentary but long lasting touch upon your soul. It’s an intuitive lyrical dance...the duende. It comes and you put yourself in its way. Rob Cook has mastered the dance. Find his poems online, find his book, wrestle an angel for it, sucker punch a muse to read it.

Gail Gray
Owner Shadow Archer Press
Editor of Fissure Magazine








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