A Cluster of Noisy Planets by Charles Rafferty. Rochester, NY, BOA Editions, Ltd. 2001, 80 pages. $17.00, paperback.
A Cluster of Noisy Planets by Charles Rafferty is an account of the melancholic passing of time, expressed through lovely observations of our world. Reading these prose poems aloud, one can sense the soft drumming of Rafferty’s carefully constructed sentences. He is a true syntactical master at work: the rhythm—generated with simple commas and full stops—magnifies the tender, slow beauty of this close attention. Not only do these words, spoken aloud, create intimacy, they create quiet. One poem from the collection that comes to mind is named, “The Satin Lining of the Casket Reminds Me of a Jewelry Box,” in which the speaker addresses the odd objects that are often buried with the dead; yet, as peculiar as the subject of this poem may sound, the last two sentences are magnificent in their scope and beautification of the mundane: “We pack them in like we’re burying pharaohs, like there’s a pyramid of grief above them. And there is—only smaller, and made of dirt, in a land that won’t stop raining” (Rafferty 17). This short quote, two of the many wonderful sentences from this collection, recalls another aspect of this poetry collection worth mentioning: the role of objects and monuments. Rafferty fixates on the various artifacts which have withstood time, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, The Roman Colosseum, and the Moon. Above all, these prose poems show the ongoing, continual movements of the human imagination, exemplified by an excellent poet who writes these love letters from his corner of the world.
—Lucas Clark, MAR