Published: April, 2009
ISBN: 1-897109-33-4 ISBN 13: 978-1897109-33-5
Price: $14.95 CDN, $12.95 US
Status: In Print
In Passenger Flight, Brian Campbell takes us on a harrowing but exhilarating ride through the heavy turbulence of the twenty-first century. This collection of free-wheeling, elegantly crafted prose poems conjures scenes of tenderness, random violence and phantasmagorical dreams evocative of the chaos of this post-911 world.
I sit on my aluminum throne. This spruce and eucalyptus-veneer table was shipped especially from Malaysia. These teak-stained tablemats, Sri Lanka. On that ersatz cherrywood shelf (Bengal), dates from Iran, mandarins from Morocco, gala apples from Chile. This neoprene book in which I draft is from Mexico; the power cord, straight from China. The robe I wear is from Taiwan.
I am the Emperor. As I cross my kitchen (five steps) to lie on my Swedish bed, I hear the murmur of voices around my head. Such gentle hands, the servants that bear me aloft! I have every reason to trust them. But I have my spies, my plants. And now I’m told of whispered connivery: plans to poison, surprise me with a dagger, a well-timed bomb.
Poison, dagger, bomb: they have been planning it night and day, for decades. They meet via satellite, speak to each other through networks in the sky. They wear fezzes, turbans, polyester neckties. They pray to the One True God. I have never seen the One True God, although I have looked everywhere, in my closets, in my drawers, among my genitals, beneath my toenails. I am told my sin is grave. They plan infernos for every single portal of my world.
But: I am the Emperor. I sit on my plastic throne. In this nine- by eleven-foot kitchen, I am surrounded by a collection of clocks. Every day, new clocks come in the mail, direct from Pakistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Venezuela. Invariably they say thirty-two seconds to … is it noon, or midnight? Invariably, I wind them back, synchronize them with the others. Clocks are crucial. Clocks are indispensable. I am the Emperor of Time: I control it from this Indonesian table, this German throne.
Everything under a thin skin of dust. In the stillness it falls like snow. Beautiful, this falling. Soon I will be a part of it: accumulate on other bodies; as they move, they’ll shed my presence. We are all shedding presences of the dead. I shake a glass globe: a flaked storm whirls and settles. Shake again: multitudes in feathery whiteness. Galaxies are inhaled and exhaled with every breath.
COMMENTS AND REVIEWS
“ These prose-poems are wonderful: smart, allusive without pretension, eloquent, varied in technique and tonal register, and, in places, wildly funny. “Fishy”, for instance, is hilarious, a piece that should spread microbially among other poets and fiction writers, much as did Clive James’s uproarious “The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered.””
“ Brian Campbell’s prose poems are epiphanies – discoveries of transcendent meaning in the context of the everyday. Herein is philosophy as play, social critique as wit, and wisdom as awe. ”
—George Elliott Clarke
“ The long and short of the prose poem is that it’s a product of deep inner contradictions. Its prose wants the freedom to wander, while its poetry wants the brevity of a few luminous words…
“ Brian Campbell’s Passenger Flight is a collection of prose poems about very contemporary concerns: the depiction of women in advertising, big-city life, sex tourism, high… >>”
“ In Passenger Flight Brian Campbell finds the boundary between music and language in a re-invention of the prose poem. The poems speak as if translated from a “Cyber Sutra,” a dream of the near future. We should listen. ”
“ In this gem of a collection, Brian Campbell uses every device available within the poet’s armamentarium—except the line break. This allows Campbell’s somewhat eccentric persona to speak with manic breathlessness as his ‘one open eye’ explores the ‘flexuous’ possibilities of the imagination. ‘The mind fills a void. It does fill. Have faith.”
“ Urbane, captivating, Brian Campbell’s images are as vertical as the city he describes and the sky overhead. Often blackly humorous, he records the frustrations and celebrations of ordinary living, juxtaposed to a time-space immensity which can only overwhelm and defeat. For Brian Campbell this overriding theme of transience and frailty is positive as well as scary. Standing grounded in his craft and his humanity, he can still startle in wonder, and his words open and lift the heart.”
[Nude bodies stacked…]
Musika de Esferas
There She Lies
V UNPAINTED CORNERS
My Oh-So-Friendly Alter Ego
Field of Gems
Behind the Eyelids
When The Music Is Not On I Hear
Reversal of Fortune
To A Writer Who Complains
The Stillness Minnow