Tuesday, January 23, 2018


There, demons, demagogue,
Through, alizarin, tongues,
Slither, my, boy, comes,

With, voice, with, blood,
Spasms, mercurial, frenulum,
That, tastes, so, good. 

From Luis H. Francia's Introduction to Doveglion: Collected Poems by José Garcia Villa:
...in 1949, in which Villa introduced his “comma poems.” In them, as he puts it, “the commas are an integral and essential part of the medium: regulating the poem’s verbal density and time movement: enabling each word to attain a fuller tonal value, and the line movement to become more measured.” The result, he says, is a “lineal pace of quiet dignity and movement,” with the comma demanding to be, as it were, read between the words. It would be a mistake therefore to think the poems read the same way sans commas—a mistake predicated on the notion that only words can constitute a poem. ... To prove his point, Villa included comma-less versions of two poems. Here is the first stanza of one poem, with and without commas: 
My,dark,hero. His,under,is,pure, 
Lightning. His,under,is,the,socket, [130] 

Much beauty is less than the face of 
My dark hero. His under is pure 
Lightning. His under is the socket [(130)] 

The poet Richard Eberhart endorsed this unorthodox use of the comma, writing Villa on June 26, 1949: 
The arbitrary and perfectionist technique (so that not once does the machinery not click or work) of the comma is somehow, I don’t know how, enlivening; it is a trick that refreshes, you know it is a trick and accept it, and in spite of yourself you read right through the commas, so to speak…You do not employ trickery for trickery’s sake, in verbal play, but your tricks are a delight to the eye and to the senses: plenty of sense to back up the startlingness.

Nick Carbó is the author of four volumes of poetry, the most recent being Chinese, Japanese, What Are These (Pecan Grove Press, 2009).