‘lapping water’ by Dan Flore III

-Reviewed by Ian Chung

lapping water is Dan Flore III’s self-published first collection of poetry, with cover art and illustrations by Andrew Amuso. However, the fact that this is a self-published work should not put anyone off from exploring Flore’s work, as there are some good poems to be found here. Opening poem ‘tap water’ announces the aquatic imagery that recurs in many of the subsequent poems, as well as showing that Flore can present us with a striking image: ‘I am only the dash / between years on the tombstone / a fear tumour’. Fittingly, water imagery in this collection flows between different associations. It can be playful and tactile, as it is at the end of ‘I would like to wake up in the ocean’: ‘I’d just like to be a wave / climbing up her thigh’. Or it may invoke water’s traditionally expiatory function, like in ‘to Red’ (‘may I wash my blood from your feet / so you could dance / through the years between us?’) or ‘upon seeing my father’s blood’ (‘the rain can only wash away what it can touch’).

That last poem also points to another subject that crops up several times in the collection, that of the poet’s father, which in turn provides a link to the Christian idea of God the Father. Lines from this poem like ‘the tide moans stories about my mother / songs of my father abandoning her / I have been swimming in that current too long’ find resolution later in ‘press 1 to speak to your father’, where the speaker is able to declare, ‘I am predivorce me again’, and thus finds some sort of peace: ‘I will no longer pray to the bags under my dad’s eyes / they are the worry of this dead lighter earth / I want to pop them like I tried to when I was a child’. There is an arch humour contained in that final line, which also shines through in a short poem like ‘after pumping his gas…’:

he buys a box of condoms
so he can look into the assuming eyes of the gas station attendant
to feel for that one moment
like there really is some Tracy or Elizabeth or Sandra

Ultimately, the most compelling feature of lapping water is its intimacy. The danger for the lyric ‘I’ to lapse into solipsism is averted in Flore’s collection because his poems frequently reach out to draw a ‘you’ into their imaginative space. While several poems are addressed to family and friends, [‘pick a shape to form me (letter to my mother)’, ‘little note to Rob’, ‘letter to my father’], Flore is equally happy to write a poem ‘to the woman smiling at me from her car’, celebrating the momentary connection that even strangers can share: ‘I am in love with your smile / how you look at me / pleased with what you see’. Barring the occasional confusion of ‘it’s’ versus ‘its’, I dare say that lapping water contains poetry that is on a level with that of pamphlets and chapbooks from the presses, deserving of a readership.