“Aux Arc Trypt Ich”: Darkly Beautiful and Sensory-Rich

Poetry, by virtue of being poetry, has its own internal music. The sway and beat, the rhyme, even punctuation helps to mold the poem into its unique sound. The poetry in Cody-Rose Clevidence’s new collection, Aux Arc Trypt Ich: Poppycock and Assphodel; Winter; A Night of Dark Trees, is a symphony and a secret language at once. It’s challenging at first, but once you fall into the ebb and flow of ‘th’, ‘thy’ and ‘ther’ mixed with ‘dude’ and ‘lol’ hanging on cliffs of spaces, it gives a rolling, bubbling sense of movement. 

Such can be heard in their poem “HOLY SPIRIT GTFO” when they write: “who has split the soft lip of fog at dawn / who has spoken words into my mouth who has put / their tongue against the salty eyelids of morning, / curséd tongue, sweet tongue, mouth of corn-silk, / one snake, dumb tongue of morning– / cursed the genitals between the legs—holy / spirit– who has begged forgiveness / from th small birds / just now starting in th trees around–” The trips and pauses they create with their punctuation add a sense of percussion, while also giving somewhere for the reader to pause before sliding into the next line.

The poems in Aux Arc Trypt Ich are visceral and full of intense imagery, in which nature is a glowing highlight; namely that of Arkansas, but also of the Earth, as a religion — as rapture — as experience for experience’s sake. Nature as an enigma, yet one that doesn’t need to be solved — one that is solved already inside you. They write in “GR]APES OF TH OPP]OSITE OF WRATH   :BEND ]OVERBEND] BACK”: “where it goes / when it goes / in April goes it full / and fill me up on green the southern sun so hard it / hits the leaves my skin / the rushing creek the sky a / beating down // each leaf darkening to an even / darker shine & darker greenness I sayeth & I hold it / can I hold it / can I keep it / it grows it flows / through me but it flows out of me / and I let it go.” Such means that you are nature and nature is you, and so is myth, and religion, and love, and grief — as much as you are summer and winter, as much as you are spring and human. Nature and humanity are mirrors of one another — both beautiful and dark, and darkly beautiful.

This piece, while being a tribute to Arkansas’ beauty, is also a tribute to language itself and how beauty sits in the sounds, as well as the mouthfeel, of words, as in the poem [NOPE] where Clevidence writes: “-I’ll not / thinly consummate / unbroken maw or, tongue / soft, I’ll not, hard th’ fold, dew / or dew not I’ll not / know, I’ll unknot, untongue / unknow, unclimb th’ tree, moon / cover me, now, limb I, limb I, unlimb, un-tie,  thrush I / thrush eye / unthrust know no thirst I’ll not / unknow a sing / -gle thing / I swear- // or, curse-” Not only are such lines aesthetically pleasing and offer a superb mouthfeel, but Clevidence alludes to the mouth several times over with ‘maw, untongue, tongue, and thirst’ creating a series of captivating images, while also developing the book’s overall sensory experience.

Though as much of an adventure as Aux Arc Trypt Ich is, it is a book that demands time and analysis. The sheer amount of formatting will present an obstacle to some audiences: how the text itself jumps and dips, breaks and folds together is not the easiest to read, but the shock melts away the further you get in the collection, pulling you in deeper and deeper. 

Overall, Aux Arc Trypt Ich is a sensory experience. It is filled with color and taste, the smell of the damp, dark earth, but also of the stars and the bitter of berries ripened in the shade. It is the smell of dew on the grass and a thunderstorm brewing, baptizing the land in lightning. It is a collision of confusion and beauty that proves challenging at times, in the actual reading and comprehension of it, but even so it is well worth a first, second, and third read. 

Aux Arc Trypt Ich
By Cody-Rose Clevidence 
Nightboat Books 
Published November 9th, 2021