Rob Carney’s This Is One Sexy Planet (2005)

Over the next few weeks or months, I will post all my reviews (“Tom’s Celebrations”) that appeared in Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose (formerly Redactions: Poetry & Poetics) up to and including issue 12. After that, my reviews appeared here (The Line Break) before appearing in the journal. This review first appeared in issue 6/7, which was published circa mid-2006.


Rob Carney's – This Is One Sexy PlanetThe earth is beautiful, or was before war, greed, money, & the homogenous creations of the business world, & the earth still can be beautiful. This is an early premise of Rob Carney’s This Is One Sexy Planet (Frank Cat Press) [out of print], a premise sustained through the collection of poems.

In the opening poem, “Six Verses in Search of a Church,” we see this:

   For fingers came first, before grubbing after money,
         and our fingers speak the language of Guitar;

   for our minds weren’t ignited by gunpowder
         or factory assembled
         but remember the ocean,
         think like the wind;


   so it was and always will be
         that our lives arrive from music,
         Living in our bodies and loving is our song.

For the speaker of these poems, this is where the sexiness of the earth is. The sexiness is in the ability to present the urge to create through love or sex or artistic creation. But so what? Most of us have come to realize this, right? Yea, we have, but in this book, the poems with the mythic tones of original energy weave through the more conversationally toned poems of a contemporary man who enjoys nature & going to bars. And it is through this man that we understand & come to believe that the original creative energies are still in us & possible. The speaker is the manifestation of the mythic possibilities, & he lives the mythic possibilities through the allegories of the mythic poems. He is our possibility to create.

The weaving begins in the second poem, “If She Read It,”

   she’d like “Last Gods,”
         a poem by Galway Kinnell
                about sex on a rock in a river.

In the next poem, “Late at Night, When I Hear Some Distant Train,” we encounter the man living in the uncertainties of the allegories. In the opening poem, “Six Verses in Search of a Church,” a relationship was established with ocean & memory & with wind & thinking, but in the first five lines of “Late at Night, When I Hear Some Distant Train,” he is not sure whether he is in memory or in returning thought (the difference being that memory is experientially based, while returning thought is intellectually based).

   I half remember how the ocean sounds
   and half remember driftwood, scattered rain.

   Maybe it’s the desert – air so thin
   that things keep echoing and echoing

   up the canyons, out across the dark.

But eventually there is a resolution, an understanding in the second section of the poem:

   It’s like I’m half and looking for the rest.
   Or where there should be ocean, there’s a lake.

   Or maybe what’s past is only gone not lost
   and always washes up again, comes back

   taking the waves’ slow way around. Why not? –

A little later on in “If the Language of the Night Isn’t Sex,” he gets deliberately into the natural urge to create.
After pondering the title’s question for 14 lines & then assuming for argument’s sake that the language of night isn’t sex:

   so much of the night sky is empty
   we have to fill it with something. . . .

   What do you say we go make a constellation?
   What do you say we make two?

And in that ellipsis & stanza break he hears the title of poem & he recalls the previous poem’s (“This Is One Sexy Planet”) penultimate stanza:

   Or that yesterday dances with tomorrow
         and we’re all of us moving
               through the spaces in between. . . .

and realizes in the emptiness, the aloneness, that there is the human need to create, even if it is not sex. (It is a realization an erotic existentialist (if such a person exists) might have — if sex doesn’t exist, you still have to create.)

After a few more poems, we get to one of my favorite poems written in our new millennium — the seven-page poem,
“The Mother of the Mountains.” In this poem, all the weavings of myth & the contemporary, the thinking & the memory
& the ability to create come together. It is in this masterful poem where comparisons between nature & humans are revealed.

   It is here, in this dreaming, that the Mother of the Mountains
   is like us: full of love and aloneness.

It is in this poem that he & we learn that the union between humans & nature is possible, that we can communicate with nature, that memory & thinking can be one, & that creation is of importance. The poem & book ends:

   When people remember what counts most,
   they measure time by their children.


   tell the Mother of the Mountains something new.

   Tell her your story if you have to,
   but make it tie the river to the wind

   and lift up the green smell of moss
   and the memory of someone’s body

   you never got to touch
   and the jumping drum of your heart. . . .

   If one day you see a heron – a long blue stillness
   at the water’s edge, or a blue impossible flying –

   then the Mother of the Mountains did listen.
   And her answer is yes.




Carney, Rob. This Is One Sexy Planet. Grand Junction, CO: Frank Cat Press, 2005.//

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