Hammer of God, News that Stays News

Lucrezia Borgia, Bernadino di Beto, 1492-1494, location unknown, public domain

Hammer of God
Aria Ligi
Poetic Justice Books, 2018, 76 pages
Reviewed by Jeffrey Perso
 
A novelist, I read almost as much poetry as I do fiction. I find that poetry’s compression, clarity of language and strong imagery not only helps with the composition of prose sentences, it also helps clear my head, like drinking from a cool, clean stream. Lately, I have been clearing my head with the poems of Aria Ligi, particularly her impressive and well-received collection, Hammer of God.
In “Asphodel, That Greenery Flower,” William Carlos Williams wrote
it is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there
 
Along similar lines, Ezra Pound wrote that literature is “news that stays news.”
 
It is safe to say that Aria Ligi brings the reader news from across the spectrum of human existence. In “Blackened at Birth” she brings news of the questioning self.
 
My existence was a mistake,
Pondered on in the empty hours
And under fingers that clutch the grave.
 
My existence puzzled the purity of faith.
 
And in “Charlotte Dreaming”
 
Cattails swaying between my mother’s knees and womb.
 
I was a curse unnamed on their name, on being,
Of what was expected
 
In the title poem, “Hammer of God,” Ligi broadens her focus on the news uncovered by the questing self to show us how such investigations can lead to realizing that forces greater than ourselves often interfere with the pursuit of truth.
 
Why don’t you let the hammer of god rain down on me;
The gibbet tied tightly in your bloodied fists-
……………………………………………..
To think is absolute freedom-
To question is to shine.
These things professed as unmitigated truth,
Now rot and twist are stamped divine-
……………………………………………….
In the blaspheme, in the sour bilious breeze,
The hammer sounds, the tree is felled—I am free.
 
For such sentiments, (and this is not a criticism but rather a compliment), it is safe to say that if Aria Ligi had been born in the Middle Ages, she would have no doubt been burned at the stake, a fate she faces ferociously.
 
It is not just from the realm of religion, or the reflecting self that Ligi brings us news. She also casts her talents towards contemporary events. In “Absolute Stain” she turns her eye toward the current crisis specific to the USA.
 
Good morning America, do you hear my cry;
The unborn epiphanies never to arise.
This mouth nakedly open could swallow you-
Who lie blinded and wounded by your hand,
Filtering for coins in the burnt and mildewed lands.
 
 And in the section titled “Simple Blind,” Ligi takes on the national disgrace occasioned by the murders of African-American males. Dedicated to teenaged Trayvon Martin, shot to death in Florida by a self-appointed vigilante, the poem, “Divided Stain,” in its entirety reads
 
It is not with a blade-tipped-nor abased,
This masquerade of black boy’s bodies on parade.
 
Do their corpses float, unbent-unbroken
Above our field of plane,
Whispering raining, softly the silent shrieks,
Then no more pain.
 
Illustrated with color and black and white plates, including Paul Delaroche’s “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey,” and Jan van Eyck’s “The Virgin with Chancellor Rolin Luber,” Hammer of God is a collection that “brings news that stays news,” and helps clear the reader’s head and quenches the thirst for fresh language as well. A gifted, fearless writer, Aria Ligi is a poet whose work deserves space on the national bookshelf.
 
An award-winning journalist and university professor, Jeff Perso‘s novel, Water Bodies, is published by Black Rose Writing.
 

 
 


In “Asphodel, That Greenery Flower,” William Carlos Williams wrote
it is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there
 
Along similar lines, Ezra Pound wrote that literature is “news that stays news.”
 
It is safe to say that Aria Ligi brings the reader news from across the spectrum of human existence. In “Blackened at Birth” she brings news of the questioning self.
 
My existence was a mistake,
Pondered on in the empty hours
And under fingers that clutch the grave.
 
My existence puzzled the purity of faith.
 
And in “Charlotte Dreaming”
 
Cattails swaying between my mother’s knees and womb.
 
I was a curse unnamed on their name, on being,
Of what was expected
 
In the title poem, “Hammer of God,” Ligi broadens her focus on the news uncovered by the questing self to show us how such investigations can lead to realizing that forces greater than ourselves often interfere with the pursuit of truth.
 
Why don’t you let the hammer of god rain down on me;
The gibbet tied tightly in your bloodied fists-
……………………………………………..
To think is absolute freedom-
To question is to shine.
These things professed as unmitigated truth,
Now rot and twist are stamped divine-
……………………………………………….
In the blaspheme, in the sour bilious breeze,
The hammer sounds, the tree is felled—I am free.
 
For such sentiments, (and this is not a criticism but rather a compliment), it is safe to say that if Aria Ligi had been born in the Middle Ages, she would have no doubt been burned at the stake, a fate she faces ferociously.
 
It is not just from the realm of religion, or the reflecting self that Ligi brings us news. She also casts her talents towards contemporary events. In “Absolute Stain” she turns her eye toward the current crisis specific to the USA.
 
Good morning America, do you hear my cry;
The unborn epiphanies never to arise.
This mouth nakedly open could swallow you-
Who lie blinded and wounded by your hand,
Filtering for coins in the burnt and mildewed lands.
 
 And in the section titled “Simple Blind,” Ligi takes on the national disgrace occasioned by the murders of African-American males. Dedicated to teenaged Trayvon Martin, shot to death in Florida by a self-appointed vigilante, the poem, “Divided Stain,” in its entirety reads
 
It is not with a blade-tipped-nor abased,
This masquerade of black boy’s bodies on parade.
 
Do their corpses float, unbent-unbroken
Above our field of plane,
Whispering raining, softly the silent shrieks,
Then no more pain.
 
Illustrated with color and black and white plates, including Paul Delaroche’s “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey,” and Jan van Eyck’s “The Virgin with Chancellor Rolin Luber,” Hammer of God is a collection that “brings news that stays news,” and helps clear the reader’s head and quenches the thirst for fresh language as well. A gifted, fearless writer, Aria Ligi is a poet whose work deserves space on the national bookshelf.
 
An award-winning journalist and university professor, Jeff Perso‘s novel, Water Bodies, is published by Black Rose Writing.
 

 
 

4 Replies to “Hammer of God, News that Stays News”

  1. Excellent review that places Ligi’s revelatory work within the context of a very fine & rich American literary/ poetic tradition.

  2. Aria Ligi’s Hammer Of God will touch your heart. She gets down to the deepest parts of your soul and makes you strangely excited to feel dark emotions. She is awakening you to your higher self with all the pain, brutality and truth of Hammer Of God. Aria is an honest poet; Aria is everything an artist should embody.

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