The last line of A.F. Moritz’s poem celebrating spring, “Baltimore May 2015,” reads “in the orgy of imagination.” This is a perfect description of the book itself which visits a variety of themes and subjects in poems that are consistently well-crafted and constructed.
There is an apocalyptic streak in the poetry of A.F. Moritz, one composed of moments when he adopts the raiment of a prophet and comments upon our course in the world. This habit is welcome, as one of the functions of the poet is to interrogate our personal and collective means of being. But in this case, Moritz writes an interlocking poem that asks “What way should we proceed?” and, here, answers in terms of the cyclical.
This is a poem of opposites, of counterings, and it begins with an opposite: the table, where people eat and talk and enjoy their lives, and the grave, where people do their grieving. Moritz commingles the two words: the “they” of the poem do not know “whether to grieve or celebrate”, suggesting that both practices happen in both locales, table and grave, borrowing a trick of the elegy to mix the potent ingredients and create an effect that is complicated catharsis. The next pairing comes with “noon” and “dusk”; again, Moritz says that the two are sequential, or cyclical. The worth of either option is not rated; like seasons, these opposites turn into one another. Moritz then comments literally upon our century’s militarism and industrialism with the vowel-rich “locked stockade of heavy machines” but contrasts this dull and “heavy” line with an airborne blue heron–the poet, perhaps, surveying all?–which finds its own way and goes “farther on.” Thus the dead, deadening, grounded aspects of our society are contrasted to a coloured, living, aloft being. At this point, there are two things that are finding their way: the pronoun “they”, which the poem suggests is “us”, and the heron. But where are they headed?