I love the way poetry can compress and sum up time:

sun-up /
            the brilliance of the day
                                                       / sun-down

and the way we can reflect on its processes through the work itself:

with each new poem
I slip into something
less comfortable

These lines remind me of Julia Kristeva’s claim that poetry must be disruptive (see her book Revolution in poetic language). 

And I like the tolerance rather than judgment shown towards the art and craft debate:

words ‘art’ & ‘craft’
are alive when each
is lived within
each other’s scope

Loney spends quite a lot of time in this sequence recycling clichés, one stanza tackling the ‘devil you know’:

better the demons
                              than those
                                            at the door

His admissions are refreshing, for example:

                              are you afraid of
                death – no, I am frightened
of being alive

and it’s followed by some lovely, deadpan humour.

The work again celebrates its own process and, indirectly, the creative act, concluding:

the search for
is not a valid

The assertion that magazines are a place where poems go to die is another wistful addition to this kind of resigned logic. We might contend with it, but I’m sure many poets will have had a similar feeling. 

Some of Loney’s fragmentary observations are close to, or could be said to constitute, haiku; this one for example, could easily be submitted to a haiku journal:

leaf by leaf
   the bodies fall

Others might be construed as Gendai haiku. This terms literally means something like ‘new-style’, but in practice veers towards the surreal. For me this further example of cliché recycling re Jung is minimalist Gendai:

the cloud of

It’s interesting to see the Hindu reference to ‘kalpas’ (the ‘day of Brahma’, equal to 4 billion years) and the laconic lines that follow it reiterate the detachment and perspective of aging. The writing also suggests that attention to the details of the environment – which Loney is accomplished at – is transitory, despite being captivating, because perception is so subjective. 

Another recycled cliché continues to assert an alternative way of looking, which is surely fundamental to poetry (evoking and disrupting Wordsworth’s dictum):

a life
in tumult

Is it cynical? Occasionally, the writing can seem to veer that way, but its sense of connection between observations, including found material, and humorous visual plays regularly lightens and leavens the more challenging ideas. Loney has always enjoyed word play for its own sake, and any seeming insistence on ideas is soon undermined. The title of this sequence is especially apt because splinters get under your skin, but it doesn’t take too long to get them out (unless your eye sight’s fading). It’s great to see Loney’s work as sharp as ever.