Timothy Kelly

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Toccata and Fugue

Kelly, Timothy

Last Updated: Jan-09-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)


This collection of 20 poems is inspired by the human body. In anatomical detail these poems depict the body's beauty of structure, its rhythm of movement, its versatility of metaphor. This is not surprising, perhaps, for the work of a poet who is also a physical therapist.

In "What I Know" (p. 11) the poet helps his patient across a hospital lobby into the "breezy, sun-dotted day." She struggles with her walker, as the poet visualizes her impairment in himself, in a spiritual sense "unable to move or feel my right side." And the world's more global impairment, where each day violence is visited upon the "brave peacemakers and blessedly meek." "Tongue" (pp. 16-17) builds upon the earthy glossals, glottals and trills made by the muscles of speech to celebrate the expressive beauty of song, while remembering that the tongue is "flesh . . . first and last."

Kelly sticks closely to flesh in "Surface Anatomy" (pp. 21-22), in which he draws word-portraits of bones, including the greater trochanter of the femur, vertebral spinous processes, and patella, and in "Voluptuosity" (pp. 27-28), where he thanks God for the body's curves: "The body's curving comes / to the hand like the dry fields / rise to rain. . . "

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