At first, it is hard to get past the title as it is with all of Christopher Citro’s titles. They are so good in the way that they trip you up and shine back on you.
Take the title of If We Had A Lemon We’d Throw It and Call That The Sun. Lemon points to Citro’s name and its meaning, a citrus category of fruit. He also points to exuberance. The word sun points to son or to Citro as a son. It points to survival. This scene is also dismal, it is dark. If a lemon shines brightly as the sun, then this is a sunless place. Maybe a dark cedar forest. This title is desperate and makes me think of immigration or refugees who have nothing, no vitamin C.
Am I making too much of the title? Probably. It is hard to ignore its shiny reflection. I wonder where I am and wonder which side of the shadow I will go to next. I am tempted to list all his titles here, you would get lost in their stark imagery and artful sound. Teasers: “Dear Diary Where Is Everybody” and “In Small Significant Ways We’re Horses.”
In, “How We Make It Home Eventually,” Citro shows us an icy scene:
. . . lost in the Arctic . . .
leaning to eat the last of the leather from my shoes,
eyeing my friend sitting on his pack at my feet,
cupping hands to his face and trying not to cough
. . . a thin line
separating inside from out . . . ”
You have a body and you don’t have a body, the poem seems to be saying, turning over its slice of glass, its chunk of ice to look at both sides, (“The Hay Out There and the Hay In You”) both views which are in agreement and also not (“On Our Mountain Made of Crushed Mountains”).
What Citro does in these poems is make us wonder about our very existence and our inventiveness as humans. Innovation and sparks of revelation appear and disappear (another title, “At First It Buzzed And Then The Buzzing Stopped”) in each poem in this book. Every title is like a movie title and each poem a small film with you sitting inside a theater, or, are you in the film too? These poems speak to what gets invented as in American innovation inventiveness. This means they are celebratory even if what they celebrate does not bring in a patent that makes millions but are happy-to-be-alive poems. If you are reading this, I’m sure you are.
If We Had A Lemon We’d Throw It and Call That The Sun by Christopher Citro. Elixir Press, April 2021.
Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson has poems forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic. She recently participated in Paul E. Nelson’s Poetics as Cosmology course. Finishing Line Press published her book of poems, Mezzanine, in 2019, and will bring out Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast, Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, in 2021.
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