Hosho McCreesh appeared recently on the Crow Poetry Hour (link to August 13 show) and I had an opportunity to not only hear him read, but also discuss some of his work and views on a few small press topics. You can hear the discussion in the Crow Radio archives, which will be linked additionally on our Audio Page. Back to the eChap: McCreesh’s “Glowing, Smoldering” is a new digital offering by Right Hand Pointing, which has evolved into a pretty cool site featuring great work by a diverse assortment of writers and artists. Some of his photographic images are included as well, and the reader is taken through the poetry collection in steps: you click the pointing hand to proceed, sequentially.
McCreesh begins with the “last meal” before an execution, considering what passes for “mercy”. Do such comforts make the reality of these hours to come any easier, any better? Certainly not. What makes one’s inevitable death palatable? It is, after all, inevitable for all of us. What kind of mercy do we find ourselves pursuing?
It is short, to the point, the reader is then forced to consider the roles: who is doing the hanging, and who partakes of the gratuitous comfort? For what end, on either side? McCreesh won’t give you answers, but he asks a lot of questions in these poems. He zooms out, taking a broad view on humans at large, then he steps back in, close again, moving from clustered “hordes” to individuals:
each / indulging their / madness in / personal and / specific / ways
Personal and specific? How unique is the madness of a man when you really get down to it? Sure, we want to believe in the novelty of our own suffering, but for the most part a group of people in traffic are hollering about their inability to control a situation, it becomes less about a situation and more about ourselves with each passing moment. It frustrates, it brings out the inner brat like nothing else, indulging in madness-yes. Far too often.
Individuals, collectively, live against the meter, stepping together toward death, “meted out / polite, civil, and / woefully / unobtrusive. Death is the lifespan, extended, broken down into moments, each bringing us closer to the completed expanse, what happens in that expanse is subject to our own notions and for some, spiritual speculations.In the end, like a car stuck in traffic, control is a delusion. You have little to say about the nature of things.
Like all poetry, you take certain things that resonate with you and you neglect other aspects. With McCreesh, I admit to a tendency to fixate on a bit of the philosophical, I tend to go there. That will not be true for everyone, of course.
These are not poems about existential angst, they are not even poems about meaning, at times they are poems about the capacity for meaning and to understand that as a context for our lives, our sense of meaning so often elusive.
Where is happiness in all this? The poet tells us that happiness is found in what remains when we give up on everything- one could say that McCreesh has gone a bit zen here, or more directly, nihilist. Beyond giving up, we have to come to realize that it did not matter much in the first place, giving up is more acknowledging the indifference of the universe to your sense of purpose.
Just as “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, McCreesh has adopted some spiritual reductionism in the pursuit of “a point”. Happiness might not be “meaning”, but if you consider the relationship between stripped down happiness and more hedonistic views on meaning, perhaps what we can come away with here is the sense that in these poems, they are inextricably linked.
Just as the forest hungers for the flame in “Tired Of Rot”, we are driven to proceed through the moments of death “meted”, we have no choice. But the flame can be an enticing way to go- perhaps taking a more hedonistic view adds the excitement of an accelerant.
“Tired Of Rot” stands out, despite being a relatively short poem. The full title is longer than the piece, a “McCreesh Quirk”. For me, one of my favorite poems, not just in this collection, but in general:
And They’ll Ask Us
And we’ll say
“because it’s pure,
because it loves and hates
takes kingdoms and
trades beauty for ash,
because it is fair,
because it is just,”
we’ll say as we hang,
Later, he wonders why we don’t just get on with it, dispense with pretending to care about saving the world while doing nothing. Why? Like I said, McCreesh is about questions…he already has his answer, I suspect. And I suspect that his answer is only a word or two longer than a two word title.
Read them, in sequence, in one sitting if you can, at Right Hand Pointing. Then, look up his other stuff: He has art and poetry in print, audio, and online. Chapbooks available from Bottle of Smoke Press, sunnyoutside, Orange Alert Press, and Propaganda Press; broadsides available from 10pt Press.