Hammer of God: A Vivid and Dazzling Collection by Joseph Sale

Aria Ligi’s poetry collection, Hammer of God (which is in two parts, Hammer of God and Ballet in Poesy, when available from the publisher Poetic Justice, and one in one volume everywhere else)is a vivid and dazzling collection wrought with emotion, violence, profundity, and spirituality. Ligi draws on classical imagery and themes in her work, and reflects this in her rich vocabulary, yet the way she draws the characters and scenes she observes feels intensely modern.
 
Stylistically, the poetry has a dark beauty. She treads a line between the profane, almost cult-like acts of depravity, prejudice and sin, with the holy and sacred. Most impressive is her use of form and meter, rhyme and assonance, in surprising and often unanticipated ways. These moments of sudden para-rhyme, where the words connect in sound, gives way to real poetic resonance and meaning. For example, in the conclusion to her poem ‘Delivery Seal’, featured in Hammer of God:
 
Hushed in whispers shrouded in screams-
 
Where to be, a woman was to be prey,
To voice dissent was only a dream.
 
The surprising rhyme, connecting ‘scream’ with ‘dream’, reveals the oxymoronically frustrated nature of a woman’s battle against oppressive forces.
 
The second half of the collection, Ballet in Poesy, features some more uplifting verse:
 
In raining, shower the equipage,
Complete each fairway and byway,
The road to evermore.
 
One is reminded of the optimistic travelling poetry of Tolkien: ‘The road goes ever on and on’, yet there is something spiritual and eternal suggested in Aria Ligi’s final line, the sense of a greater journey beyond death. Coupled with her spirituality, is also a sexual energy that runs throughout in poems such as Poet Pen and Corn Queen.
 
Finally, Ligi’s poetry is contemporaneous and relevant to our times, especially as she explores themes of inequality, unseen crimes against fellow humanity, and of corruption at the highest level. In her poem, ‘Dividing Stain’, she briefly alludes to ‘black boy’s bodies on parade’ before then cutting us with an astonishing quatrain:
 
Do their corpses float, unbent-unbroken
Above our field of plan.
Whispering raining, softly the silent shrieks,
Then no more the pain.
 
This is outstanding poetry that is at once classical and contemporary. I cannot recommend Hammer of God enough.

Joseph Sale, Author and Editor, and author of Beyond the Black Gate

Highland Girl

(c) National Trust, Cragside; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

O’ Highland girl where art thou
Out within the meadow, dancing in kilt and corn
A flowering maiden ner forlorn.
 
O’ Highland girl, brightest dower.
Ye tore a blaze
A perihelion slicing thru the maze.
 
And netted verse, Plato er Milton
Descending into sweetest Italian.
A conversazione at first recondite.
A meteor sparking and daubing the air
Then dipping the sheets with thyr polemic fare.
 
O’ Highland girl the corn in the meadow
Woven kilt adorned,
Thou art a praeternatural Phenom.
 
O’ Highland girl Ye art a Literal balm!
Flush the fields,
Animate and wield the horn o’ the poet’s invincible song!
 
Copyright © 2014 Aria Ligi from Volume II of the Romantic Series, Commemorating Life, Poems for Samuel Taylor Coleridge published in October Hill’s Winter Issue 2019
 

I.C.U

His fingers read my body like Braille, skimming the epidermis
Along the fine downy trail
We are on a scarlet sea
His hands in my mouth, my teeth in his bones,
Spitting the marrow out.
 
It hurts that he cannot see the curve, the words; the colors in me.
We chew like dogs on each other’s skin,
Hair and mucus, between the gums.
We claw and devour like rat infested ghetto women,
Noisy and messy, and full of need.

Blood, Bone, and Stone, Copyright © 2013 Aria Ligi published in VLP, Far From Home