Jimenez, Joe. “Rattlesnake Allegory”, Red Hen , 2019.
Solitary and Manhood
Human emotions seem to have no permanent form and they are varied among all of us. It would seem that we are familiar with joy but it also has its variations. Joe Jimenez looks at human emotions in “Rattlesnake Allegory” and thematically these poems are about “the moment inside the body / when joy is not born as much as it is made out of anything / the rest of the world doesn’t want.”
We explore aloneness and manhood as articulations of want, desire and loss after transformative experiences. Jimenez writes personal poetry and how he got to know his body and “recognizing a queer brown body inextricably belonging to lineages of loss, and then realizing that some new body has emerged from where the old parts were lost or taken”. “Lechuza Sketches” is a sequence of four poems that close the collection in which the poet speaker manifests the Tex-Mexican folkloric figure of a lechuza, the human-owl hybrid said to inhabit parts of South Texas and the Northern Mexican border. While this may not seem clear to you in this review, when you read the collection, everything will fall into place.
One summary review I read said that this is a collection of poems “about more deeply engaging with one’s queerness, one’s brownness, and understanding that there are parts inside us we never knew existed”. I would go a step further and say that these poems are about marginalization in a world that chooses not to see us as part of it. This can based upon skin color, sexuality, religion or anything that makes us feel different. “In the world, some part of us is often / unseen / & not glorious. / But what if we are? / Glorious. Seen.”
I have always felt that desire and loneliness go hand in hand and the longing that comes from these keeps us longing for love and acceptance. As I read here, my eyes often filled with tears and my skin itched as if to tell me that this is what wanting to be accepted is like. It should be no surprise that these is a sense of sensuosity here as well.
“The clock has whittled itself down to a minute,
& so it is time for this moment I am sharing
with you to end, which means you & I—
we are no longer alone.”
Jiménez’s poetic skill and use of repetition gives his poems a feeling of deep intensity and sincerity., to the often-surprising and sparkling imagery. His imagery is powerful and his poems are brilliant and beautiful. Unfortunately, these poems may only be known to a select few who know him and his publisher. It is difficult to make people aware of new poets. I want people to read Jimenez so tell your friends about him. Jimenez writes what we feel.
“in a world, some part of us is often
& not glorious.
But what if we are?