Glory and Dissolution – Invisible Strings by Jim Moore

Invisible Strings

Invisible Strings
BY Jim Moore
(Graywolf Press, 2011)

The poems in Jim Moore’s Invisible Strings inhabit a realm of diminishing expectations, where aging and loss gradually and inexorably shrink the world. However, as the physical world contracts, that which is unseen — thought and emotion — expands, becoming more genuine than anything corporeal. This expanded inner place has its dangers too; to quote from “All That Talk of the Moon,” “Sometimes regret is simply all there is” (p. 17), and in “Sleeping with Mona Lisa,” “the light da Vinci loved” is “the blue light of ambulances at night” (p. 31). Moore writes of what brings us closer, and of those accidental encounters that trigger the emotions. Age and gravity scrape away the superficial, leaving the bare essences of what makes us human.

“Triumphs” begins with this melancholy confession: “The triumphs in his life / were so quiet, he should be ashamed” (p. 32). This opening line is typical of the poems in this book — they invite the reader immediately into the speaker’s psyche. And truly, with a line this subtle and skillful, no introduction is needed. Aren’t we all, at some point in our lives, a little ashamed of how little we have accomplished? Have the dreams of youth even approached the mundane realities we find ourselves in? For example, just staying asleep, once so easy, is now a struggle:

That the sight of the dog sleeping mattered
was a triumph
not just anyone
could understand. Or the thought
of sleep itself and its rose
pillowcase, or leaving it behind
at 4 A.M., sitting
at that dark window,
wide awake for no reason.

— p. 32

Although it starts with self-deprecation, “Triumphs” ends up showing the reader that in the end, it’s enough to still be here, like the “remaining leaves on October trees, / all glory and dissolution” (p. 33).

The poems of Invisible Strings are about more than aging and loss — many are place poems, swinging between the author’s two homes in Spoleto, Italy and St. Paul, Minnesota. It is hard to imagine two more disparate places, but Moore is equally confident in either locale. Indeed, staid, wintry Minnesota and playful, sunny Spoleto seem to mirror the two sides of Moore’s poetic personality.

In “Tuesday,” he pokes fun at the fact that his “new chestnut-colored shoes / with the red laces” seem “demure” in Italy, but in Minnesota “give off the faint whiff / of a clown gone overboard” (p. 27). However, in “The Four Stages of Love,” is this evocation of St. Paul:

Driving the December road to St. Paul

in winter sunlight,
Bill Evans on the radio. Maybe
this is actually paradise,
you said, and on we went
from there

— p. 39

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