The Glimmering Room
by Cynthia Cruz
Cynthia Cruz's second collection, The Glimmering Room, beckons readers down into
the young speakers' dark underworld, and because we are seduced by Cruz's
startling imagery and language rich with "Death's outrageous music," we follow
willingly. The poems wander in and out of their own American
wastelands—strip malls, bus stations, state psychiatric hospitals, "the
Starver's Ward // With the other almost-girls"—with a loneliness "so
brutal / It is beautiful." Peopled with "ambassadors from the
Netherworld"—the orphaned and abused, the lost and addicted—Cruz
leads us through this "traveling minstrel show / Called girlhood—" which
is at once tragic and magical.
From “Strange Gospels” to stark, entrancing dispatches from inside the hospital walls, these poems give voice to the voiceless in the face of poverty, addiction, war, and consumerism. “I am diseased with this / Recurring dream that is / My life,” one speaker declares, and we are devastated not by a godless world, but by a world rife with the “God of gas station bathrooms / And of girls held hostage / Inside their own bedrooms,” a God who “does not keep/ The demons back.” Relentless in its descent into “the mind's outrageous factory," the book's redemption lies not in pulling us—the readers or the speakers—back from the edge, but in its refusal to look away or to let us forget: “memory // That warm slop of honey, / seeping. No way to stop it / And its gorgeous hurricane of bees.”
“Cruz's characters—coerced, lonely, drugged, abused, desperate, abandoned,
sick—are perpetually on the edge of oblivion. Only the intensity and
sympathy of Cruz's attention keeps them from passing over into disaster. No one
seen this clearly and known this perfectly can ever truly be lost from the
world—or forgotten by the reader.”
“Would that this book-as-gun shot mere blanks. No. Rather, its deadly content offers
sky-burnt formulas, medicated rituals, sly lies that turn into bare truths
uglier than any you ever knew or came across. Yes. Intelligence marries pain.
Yet, to read these poems is to continually plummet. Diagnosed, feverish,
starving, malevolent, and startlingly to the point ('You ask why I starve
myself, why / my friends are all dead.'), the speaker of these poems is an
onslaught of her own making. The Glimmering Room is a savage and
stunningly coherent collection that turns the so-called 'post-confessional'
mode on its head.”
I got my dream pills.
They're wrapped in tin foil
And it's going to be alright.
I got sweet Billy with me
And he's still breathing and
It's beautiful, what they're telling us.
Got my enzymes, a nickel bag of
Electrolytes. My entire life,
I've been waiting for this.
I got my radio on.
I've got it hooked into a chip
And lodged inside a suburb of thought
In my brain, somehow.
And it's weird, how it's wired.
I can hear the fires.
I can hear the daisies
As they fell the desert.
Pretty machete like
Paper Mache confetti of
Dropped cluster bombs and now
I can hear the Black
Hawks wild in their swarm and
I've got my horses and
I'm holding beautiful Billy in my arms.
It's like a song.
about the author
Cynthia Cruz was born in Germany and raised in Northern California. She is the author of Ruin (Alice James Books) and the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and a Hodder Fellowship. Her poems have been published in the New Yorker, The Paris Review, Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review and others. She lives in Brooklyn.
author photo: Steven Page