“Elder’s Alphabet: On Reading Gilgamesh At The Bellagio” by Philip Dacey


Karl Elder, Gilgamesh at the Bellagio

The National Poetry Review Press




Ask Karl Elder for a dime and you can

bet he’ll give you a dollar, given the

cold cash of his lines, a bankful of gifts

designed like bills for long currency, his

every reader thankful, the realm’s coin’s

fevered economy of words hot to

grace the ear as fingers count–call it a

hootenanny of vowels and consonants,

ignition by ignis fabulous, sparks

jiving their way home like deep pockets that

“know how far to go too far” (Cocteau)–no

less than everything his purview and

more, the plus ultra of his dreaming tongue,

non-stop surprises like manna landing

on your head, in it, gold visions that yet

play havoc with pomp, poetry as the

quintessence of sublime slapstick, language

revved to revelation, top hat goal of

snowballs syllabically thrown, money

trail that melts into its permanent place,

ultimate vault, the pole a kind of music

voracious in veracity that buys

whole worlds of wonder, never without an

X-factor, source of mystery that says

yes to you-name-it, so give like bucks a

zillion cheers: we’re all richer for this verse.




Philip Dacey is the author of nine full-length books of poems, the latest The New York Postcard Sonnets: A Midwesterner Moves to Manhattan (Rain Mountain Press, 2007), and numerous chapbooks. Two books of his poems appeared in 1999, The Deathbed Playboy (East. Wash. U. Press) and The Paramour of the Moving Air (Quarterly Rev. of Lit.). Previous books of poetry include The Boy Under the Bed (Johns Hopkins, 1981), How I Escaped From the Labyrinth and Other Poems (Carnegie-Mellon, 1977), and Night Shift at the Crucifix Factory (Iowa , 1991).  He has also published books of poems about the painter Thomas Eakins (2004) and the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1982).











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