More than Watchmen At Daybreak
Poems by Cyrus Cassells -
Praise be to More than Watchmen at Daybreak.
Cyrus Cassells’ title derives from Psalm 130. The line before? “My soul is longing for the Lord.” These twelve poems log time Cassells spent in silence in a hermitage with the Benedictine Brothers at the Christ in the Desert monastery. Georgia O´Keefe’s ranch is across the street from the Brothers, and one feels her palette cured into these lines—a pewter river and a brindled roan enter the poems. “What you look hard at seems to look hard at you,” Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in his journal. Truly these poems watch us, watch the poet. Cassells waited for these poems, listening patiently for their deep harmonies, probing their quiet revelations. Written in couplets, Cassells couples one dialectic after the other: the human and the divine, the land with the stars, the secular with the religious. Throughout there is a clear strain of praise and belief, unabashed and unapologetic. The last poem ends with a “burgeoning dawn”—a promise of more after this geyser of sound. What distilled magical mysterious poems! They come out of the depth of a man having worked in his craft for forty years. His head bent over his monastery desk suddenly caused him to turn emphatically to the sky. The rapid explosion and extravaganza of sound one feels almost gave this poet whiplash as he turned to the heavens. Joyful, extravagant, lyrically-packed, strange, memorable, hear this voice. The line after in Psalm 130: “for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him there is plenteous redemption.” Mercy and redemption are in short supply these days, it is a lovely thing to have Cassells as our watchman, reminding us of the promises that can come with faith —“Bless me with celestial prayers,” Cassells writes. Bless these psalms.
—Spencer Reece, author of The Clerk´s Tale and The Road to Emmaus