And If You Don't Go Crazy I'll Meet You Here Tomorrow
by Filip Marinovich
On the Far Side of Truth
A review by Ian Bodkin
We are not stable where we stand. Whether by a tweet or a twit, pop-up or pop-out, podcast, feed, or alert, we are aware the earth is in flux, a constant of revolution. Just as innumerable permutations hang behind a thought, tune, or Internet search, the poems of And If You Don't Go Crazy I'll Meet You Here Tomorrow by Filip Marinovich take us into the conscience of the new-new-neoteric. From Belgrade to Manhattan, Kandahar to your local ashram, he is the nomad with his eye on our world. The poems bring us in through the poet's eye along the nerve to where neurons twist, twirl, bend, and fire by the disarray created in a memory. As chaos is the natural state of the universe, And If You Don't Go Crazy I'll Meet You Here Tomorrow illuminates and maps the reflective state in humanity.
The pace and rhythm with which Marinovich directs the reader makes for some of the more striking features in this collection. In the first poem, "Kalemegdan," we are given a speaker in transition, attempting to accept loss. He has returned to New York City, haunted by the death of his grandfather: "I want to be the machine you take apart so I can stop fearing / pain and joy of seeing you in dreams and feel your flesh / but you're all ashes now in an urn in Belgrade I return to only in sleep." The words themselves are mainly monosyllables commanding us to swallow each in rapid succession. However, with the absence of typical punctuation, Marinovich makes us read and then re-read so that the hard snap of each word is felt.
Throughout the collection, Marinovich moves from a patient introspective voice to that of a man trying to name the world. With each image, he depicts the manifestations of the self as he ponders the deeper mysteries of relationships from the banal or more immediate desires to the finer connections of deep love. On the canvas of many poems, we see the languages of pop, utility, and ceremony converge. In the poem "Sanguis," Marinovich creates a meditation through the elements of the body and the movement of cultural reference:
A modern-day amalgamation of the blues song and the biblical writer, this John sits down in a most nondescript setting to begin his apocalypse. Yet, just as Marinovich brings us to this climactic moment, the poet's hand goes up, and we are reminded of a basic bodily function; in chaos and a possible end of times, we are given cover.
at orange Naugahyde
diner booth in his cave
for dictation WAIT
B r e a t h e
Marinovich is not a poet to exchange pleasantries. He is not going to ask about the weather, though it may be mentioned. He will not lead the reader down through the circles as Vergil to Dante, yet he may take a path parallel. In "The Cathedral of St. John the Divine," he does give "you cunnilingus in a dark alcove / while poets took turns reciting 'The Inferno' / in the Poet's corner. It was your turn." He goes on to express the conflicting memories of a relationship and the moment it breaks. The lurid or risque nature with which some scenes are depicted in And If You Don't Go Crazy I'll Meet You Here Tomorrow are not seeking sensationalism. Marinovich reprocesses the words, captures their vulgarity, and employs them in a way that the reader confronts their implications.
Along with being a book driven by language, And If You Don't Go Crazy I'll Meet You Here Tomorrow is a collection framed in ritual and reflection. A later poem, "Light Around a Pilot," is set in seven parts as Marinovich returns to the loss of his grandfather. The first section, in which he runs the Slovenian translation down the left hand margin, superseding the English, gives us "wolves in the verbs," but later in section "V. Instrumentalities," we stand with the poet as he addresses himself, "Fil / artifact is ash / ash is artifact." Throughout the collection a constant confrontation is made between death and the art or remains of humanity.
In the longest and final poem of the collection, "Bodhisattva Graphomania," Marinovich brings together all the churning symbols of Zen, ceremony, movement, self, and death. We learn with the speaker as he communes with himself and his Roshi, or teacher. It is in this poem that Marinovich makes the most use of white space and the way the words are presented on the page. In one section we see the image of a Bhodi tree and in the next what seems to symbolize a river. Still, along with the symbolic word structure, Marinovich also captures us in the meanings behind them:
I paused before
With this last poem, the journey of the book is made clear as we step from the grief and the hodgepodge of our modern world into mediation and artifact, the art left behind.
That's where you bow
In the end, it is the aspect of art and what traces remain with us when we leave that carries the strongest voice in these poems. And If You Don't Go Crazy I'll Meet You Here Tomorrow is a collection that challenges its reader without apology. However, through the conscious hand of Filip Marinovich, we are taken from (and in some cases through) the world's distractions to come out the other side to a place we once called truth.
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