A poet of Kyle Schlesinger’s
caliber might find a comparison between his recent work and the classic arcade game Donkey Kong offensive. As tenuous as such a comparison might seem, I encounter Schlesinger’s poetry in much the same way I play Donkey Kong: moving from line to line, knowing that meaning will develop as a particular pattern of tumbling, cascading moments. Each line is a girder, each epiphany a barrel. In both cases the notion of a splintered whole (the line ended prematurely, the girder architecturally compromised) expresses a sensibility akin to the aesthetic of cracked vases: in minimal ruin one can approach the object with tenderness, a strong desire to impart meaning, and then walk away to a world changed by the subject’s altered epistemology.
By the time we’re through to the end of the stanza, we’re not just on a physical journey together — we’ve entered into a kind of community over time, bound to the distant past and the future. As we read on, it becomes clear that we are bound in this community less by the experience of a shared journey than by the experience of common texts or stories.