“We Call Them Beautiful” * KC Trommer

by Scott Hightower  ·  February 25, 2020

Diode Editions, 2019, 978-1-939728-29-6.

Poetry is itself a trick, an illusion of survival. With a title like
“We Call Them Beautiful” one has to get past two un-tethered
pronouns to reach the magic of the high aesthetic. The poems
of KC Trommer are inhabited, art-informed, and artful.

“We” and “them” innocently sets up what will become a painful
binary… the voice of being born into a binding circle of affection,
only to pass into the false start of a booby trap (where one begins
to ask “What is it you want from me?”), to pass out into yet another
binding circle of love-aligned, injured but wise survivors and innocents. Best avoid the gravity of the predators and cruel.

Trommer’s poetry is approachable and clear…. but emotionally not
easy. Prayers give way to laws, mirrors to windows, and purring wonder to howls of sobering, embattled responsibilities. Even hair brushes have teeth; some kisses have secret pinching claws. One is “made to pay attention to geometry” and kitchen gas leaks.

She is not afraid to take on the voice of the cast out, the loss of gravity, the foraging mother elephant. Times I want a tuck, she sprawls; times I just want a pentimento, she goes for the woman screaming, resisting erasure, in the pulse of want; a woman shouting “I will not be appeased!”; evokes a whole “warship crawling through the Pacific, / eluding radar, barreling along and full of men / ready to strike.” (It is a subtle salute to the artist Lee Bontecou.)

Trommer winds us by a bench-like statue by Noguchi, the celebrated, monumental 1961 piece by Lee Bontecou. She wishes she could just listen to the Spoons. But there are keys to keep up with, a dead phone to replace, the living and the dying to take care of, a son to train (She can herself remember when she sank mother
lobsters back into the cold water of Nova Scotia, “This is how we
trained them to trust the traps”), and––luckily for us––she had/ has poems to write. Lots of personal libraries (readers) are waiting for this book.