Tuesday, December 16, 2008



baring more than soul by Remé A. Grefalda
(Dorrance Publishing, Pittsburgh, 1997)


It sings like a song, and “a song can last long after the events and the people in it are dust and dreams and gone,” as Neil Gaiman said. baring more than soul is Grefalda at her most unguarded. At first glance, the poems read like a journal, all untitled. At the bottom of each poem, indicated in parentheses, is the year it was written, from the turbulent ‘60s to the roaring ‘90s. On second glance, the rhythmic elements pop out -- bluesy, strophic, Cole Porter-lyrical.
Us two
on the head of a pin

the separateness

the fall of liquid seconds
into endless time

look away

for I may never leave
your gaze

nor stop
the sense of wonder
in my heart

from gathering you

The slow tempo is complemented by clever lines; the tonality, intimate and informal.
in boogie time
on salamander shoes
I soar

on some light
fantastic morn

cappucino sweets
entwined in drowsy
scents of you

who loves me
babe who loves me

I backpack queries
all day
gathering and waiting

sunlit starlit ebony folds
unfurl a bright
and searing stillness

boogie time lost
in welcome womb
welcome full
and rushing empty

rushing madly to
welcome You

The 31 poems in this collection entice so subtly we are a little taken aback when the tension builds and breaks paroxysmally. The verses speak of love in all its complex and syncopated forms, of echoes of vulnerability at its most profound.
                  when you said
            get up and walk
we couldn’t

awed as we all were

(why was it so hard
            to take that
                  first step)

It took your touch

the warmth to lift
the hold to pull
my stubborn foot
out of the clutch

awed as I was (and still am)
I never thanked you

I simply walked away

There is no emotional uncertainty. Every line is essential. The poet is unrepentantly bared, having explored love and loss and the rhymes and un-reasons of it.
Play me
Set me once more
Sum apart

Nonetheless. There is an element in the 'baring' that still covers something basic and mercurial. She both seduces and keeps at a distance that which she seduced. “I rest within the nomad callings / of my soul. I amble loose, / My bearing undefined,” she says. Did she deflect it successfully, the ache (that which begins it All)? by “simply [walking] away”? Why “pause / before red doors”? Because it prevents as much as it allows both access and escape? She “[reenters] shadows,” anyway. Her buoyant soul, “Not to be held, / but to be absorbed. / Not to be gazed upon, / but to be savored …”

And more than soul? Her disembodied self? Did piecing it together into something material and eventual, suffice? On the other hand, babe, you shine … You’re a Berlin ballad. lose you to a song? / absurd.


Aileen Ibardaloza’s works have appreared in various online and print media, including The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys by Eileen Tabios (BlazeVOX, New York, 2008) and A Taste of Home edited by Ed Maranan and Len Maranan-Goldstein (Anvil, Manila, 2008).

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