McDaniel has a delicate touch. He creates the mood and the moments but seldom gives us too much. For instance, for one poem, "Maker," the gloss in the table of contents tells us that "garden and the gardener are the same." I imagine, although I might be wrong, that "violet," the assassin, has taken on the task of gardener in the abbey's garden. She cuts an apple with the sensual precision of a trained assassin: "knife into the apple . . . droplets of water beaded on its flesh a bit scary and bit erotic. This is the kind of thing that does indeed build by accretion. And it allows a different kind of statement to rise up suddenly and almost overwhelm the reader who has entered the world of this book. In another fragment, McDaniel writes, "do not underestimate the value / of salvation that appears from nowhere."
Raymond McDaniel reads from Murder (a Violet) at Shaman Drum Bookshop on Thursday, October 7.
[Originally published in October, 2004.]