Review: Cleaning the Duck by Tsaurah Litzky


Review by Steve Dalachinsky


Tsaurah Litzky claims in one of her poems that it is “the lowlife” in her that got her where she is today. Well that’s pretty high up there overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge sharing her apartment with the spirit of Hart Crane. Writing as he did her words about the torturous paradise we call the here and now. This book is about a world “where at least sometimes the light pierces the darkness.”  It tells us that “the arrow is the soul” and shows us that the soul of a poem lies within its honesty, its desire to question and provoke. From doing yoga to cleaning toilets. From her imagined relationship with William Blake (like hanging out together on Brighton Beach, one of her favorite haunts) or giving us a true and dramatic look into the soul of another all embracing poet, now sadly gone, Enid Dame, or poignantly telling us of her love for her father we are led from one world to another knowing all the time as Litzky herself puts it, that the beauty of this book is, in part, the way the poems, though mixed up, are somehow sequentially quilted together. This is due, in part to the fact that they are all one world, Tsaurah’s world, a world of warmth, (dis)comfort, intimacy and an intricacy of texture that can only come from a mature, intelligent mind and full/filled vision of the creative process, through which we are filled with new experiences, inspiration, breath, beams of light, headstands and the “seed” of Litzky “bursting” our “skins”. Her words light up and (en)lighten the mind as she “contemplates the marriage of sea and sky,” or speaks of how her “father’s world has gotten smaller… and that  “Outside the two windows he can see a tree, a patch of grass and a piece of today’s gray winter sky.”

Her elegies as well as all her pieces about people she’s known or only imagined knowing make you feel as if you knew them as well and as intimately as she has. These poems exude love, pathos, disappointment, honesty, joy, forgiveness, solitude, battles with and insights into the aging process. They are presented to us with both heightened poetical senses and exquisite taste that only experience can bring. They are, in other words, like a bottle of fine vintage wine.

Litzky states that she wants to write like she thinks, feels and comes, with “a heart that can” both “dance” and “love” and her eagerness to “fly on the wings” of poetry will make you eager for more good “wine.” She tells us that “there’s a bird in her bathroom singing its heart out… singing a rhapsody to somebody and” that “that somebody is” her. Well I tell you that there is a bird within these pages and that bird is Tsaurah Litzky and she’s singing a multitude of rhapsodies just for us.