In honor of National Poetry Month, I pulled Michael Gilmore’s Restless Astronomy off of my bookshelf and gave it the readthrough that it deserved. Admittedly, I am not an expert on poetry. Although, when I find poets that I do enjoy, like Saul Williams and Miguel Pinero, I dig in. Gilmore’s collection gave me plenty to underline and ponder on. Gilmore has a knack for speaking beautifully about mundane things like getting drunk or appreciated a barista who knows your drink.
Restless Astronomy is a collection of free verse (I think), both previously published and new. Subjects range from history to lust to world travels to “Deleted Scene Now Included on DVD”. Gilmore’s biography makes it clear he has lived around the world and has loved several women in his life. The book benefits from his experiences.
Particularly memorable is “On Koshinga’s Island”, which is several pages long and details a day lived abroad. The poem includes some silly cultural misunderstandings about the gravity of his Chinese nickname.
Another of my favorite poems in the collection was also narrative in nature. Gilmore was in the U.S. military in the 1970s, and “Thirty Six Hours” tells the story of a weekend on leave in Monterey, California. In a few lines, he shows you what it was like to be young, drunk, wandering the streets, and looking for a warm body.
As far as I know, Gilmore currently lives in the Austin area. I appreciated some of his poems that were inspired around town, including “After Curfew on Mount Bonnell”. An excerpt:
Beneath a full moon
the city sprawls before us
and its lights
are laid like gemstones
loose and random on a cutter’s table.
I reach to touch you as you turn
cup breast instead of shoulder
humor is a guarded window.
As you can tell, I am splashing around in the kiddie pool when it comes to poetry. What I can say is that I enjoyed reading through Restless Astronomy. If you can pick it up at Half Price Books, it’s worth the $3 for “On Koshinga’s Island” alone.