It’s a prickly book, this new exploration of love and language by Alex Caldiero. The dedication to Alex’s wife—”for Setenay, some love”—ought to raise some questions at home, questions that find many satisfying answers in the edifying and eviscerating and life affirming and despairing and enlightening and surprising and playful poems.
Jason Francis designed the beautiful book, small enough to fit nicely in a reader’s hand and fat enough to include lots of poetry. Red and blue are the dominant colors of print (oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood) and creamy white paper alternates at intervals with blue and red pages.
Like all true love stories, this is a tragedy. Like all true love stories, this is a comedy. Like all true love stories, this is a book about language. Like all true love stories, this is an exploration of sex. Like all true love stories, this is a love story.
The epigraphs for Parts One and Four lay out two of the many possibilities: “Your eyes are beautiful—they match.” Bob Hope in Road to Utopia . . . and “If you think we’re together, you’re a poor judge of distance.” Mae West in Belle of the Nineties
A couple of poems as examples of the wit (in both senses: humor and wisdom) of the book: you are so much on my mind/you have thoughts of your own there and Her mouth on/my mouth— in old age I’ll smile and/not know why
Love is complex and frustrating: Because I was so sure/of the meaning of the word,/I didnt look it up,/but maybe I should have/because the one I heard/was not the one she spoke.
at cards/or love,/I lose at/both so/I stay home/for dinner
Love is satisfying and promising:
When my tongue/meets your tongue/it wants to play tag,/it wants to play hide-and-seek. Then fatigued,/it would lie down/in its own most bed/alone to dream in flavors.
Love is heartbreaking. Table for Two with One Chair, for instance, ends with a request: It’d be helpful/if you would return/my heart to my body.
Love moves at the speed of love in Italian as well as in English. Lovers keep telling and retelling their stories . . . della velocita of love.
Love opens up new worlds: How careful/should I be/with emotions that would unscramble/every letter in my alphabet?/Perhaps then I could learn another language.
This book unscrambles every letter in my alphabet, and for that I’m grateful.
[thanks to Tim Abbott for the title “Moving at the Speed of Love”]