WC79 – Dan Vera’s The Space Between Our Danger & Delight

Rvu_VERA The Space Between
Our Danger and Delight

By Dan Vera

Beothuk Books $15.00
ISBN 97806152538

Reviewed by Collin Kelley

Dan Vera’s debut collection, The Space Between Our Danger and Delight is just like the cover image — full of sparks. And also like the sparkler, the 37 poems crackle and burn long after you close the covers on this slim volume. Vera embraces an economy of words, wasting none of his lines or fussing with complicated metaphors. This is a straightforward collection that reminded me of Ted Kooser, but also the whimsy often found in the work of our poetry grandfather, Walt Whitman.

Pop culture and Bush/Iraq-era politics are on display, and the Whitmanesque vibe clearly shows through as Vera writes about Washington D.C. with both exaltation for its beauty and despair for the president who has ruled as a despot for the last eight years behind the beautiful walls of the White House.

Perhaps the strongest section is the set of poems about growing up Gay and Latino in South Texas: Finding his emotions as a young barrio boy watching Disney’s Old Yeller, his family’s assimilation into American life, his brother’s reaction to his coming out as a Gay man. While those subjects might seem specific, these poems contain multitudes.

There is a folksiness in the opening poems, full of romping dogs, cuddling up to a loving partner and playful curiosities about the “chemical” and “elemental principles” of delight and how we as humans measure it. Perhaps the collection’s strongest piece — although it’s a tough call with all the delights on offer here — is Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam, a fantasia about the poet leaving her Amherst attic, catching a train to Boston and laying down three minutes so perfect that it cures illnesses, causes power outages and turns hair white on those who witness it. That one poem is worth the price of admission alone, but I decided to choose another piece that spoke to me just as strongly.

Father’s Day for Gay Boys by Dan Vera

One beside another – brothers

Seven diviners

of what lies beyond the truths we have uncovered.

One make three, then four, then more

until we move beyond mere numbers.

There is thunder over the city tonight

and of the million hearts we may never see

here in the circle we make commitments

we push the limits of earthly loving.

Electricity visits again

and the black skies pulse with light –

currents of power by some capillary action.

Sons kiss their fathers.

Sons kiss their fathers to sleep

and the rose-eyed boy remembers himself again.

We are not the sons they ordered

with their patriotic dreaming.

We are not the sons they expected to come down the line.

But we unfold

beyond such kind paternal ignorance.

We unfold within the measure of our time.

And we make peace with the fathers inside of us.

And we give birth to a hidden, long-carried joy within.

 

Collin Kelley is a poet, author, editor, community organizer and advocate for the arts. 
He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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your friends who could use some wisdom!  If there's an article listed
above that was not excerpted online, copies of this issue are available
for purchase.  Contact us at editors@gaywisdom.org

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