Oyster Boy Review 18  
  Winter 2003–4
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Taping Images to Walls, by Dan Stryk

David Need

Taping Images to Walls: A Medley of Informal Sonnets.
Dan Stryk.
Pecan Grove Press, 2002.
45 pages, $11 (paperback).
ISBN: 1931247048

Dan Stryk's fifth collection of poems, Taping Images to Walls, contains thirty-two "loose" sonnets. The setting of the poems is the ex-urban America of families with high school children, of parents almost done with the long passage of raising their children, whose world is beginning to be husk. Stryk's sonnets are not so much answer as evidence that the desire to express, the desire to imbue world with value, persists long past its apparent use.

The looseness of Stryk's sonnets bears the weight of this project. The lines are long, with a voice that presses towards prose. They break awkwardly, but are faithful to the sonnet's mode of shifting, unclosed lyric diction. In all this, an architecture is provided to express the disconsolances of a reflective life that has been submerged in the prose of American family. Thus, in the title poem, Stryk asks:

What urges us, continually, to bare our souls in this way? Despite
Those tape-scars smudging, like failed thought, the walls and
Doors—like spoors of thought that's run its course through
Momentary glimmers of intrigue, to gather in heaps with no
Clear End.

Even as he tells us of his teen-age son's ridicule, even as he writes about going to the corner store, even as he tells of a gray wolf spied through trees or a pond filled with beer-bottles and tadpoles. Even as he tapes more pictures to his walls.

All this is fine, a workmanlike use of the tool of the sonnet. Still, the whole gives too much privilege to the reflective life. This is a preference, of course, but it closes the circle with the reader too swiftly, and imagines a distance that is unreal, despite the admitted wasteland of this late American life.