John Tritica


How Rain
Its Alphabet


112 pages

6x8 inches

ISBN: 1-888809-09-4



John Tritica’s poetry extends from that place where “context meets cortex” in the joyous “practice of observing outside”. With the compression of haiku, his poems reveal, with gestural clarity, the sensual lushness of the world in its ongoing stream. “The cosmos flower bleeds burgundy into light/ Driest July in years/ August, now September, torrential…” Ego suffused, if not replaced, by a loving magnanimity, we feel the poet’s own continuous temptation to kiss a dahlia or “locate the intersection of possible and actual”. And in this saturation and crossroads, location happens as a tension existing inside the music of language. The metamorphic beauties of what words are—concrete qualities as well as aphoristic playfulness, where layers and layers of detail add up, meaningfully, into a larger emotion of steadfast pleasure. These are poems, indeed, from the garden of real life: car alarm, compost, leaking roofs, Chianti, marigolds, equinox and the myriad particularities of “motion, pattern and aroma”. Tritica paints his residency in the high desert landscape using invisible truths gathered from “bees feeding in the datura/ just popped open”. The “pollen thick on their legs” stated precisely, the basic surrealism of sunlight and flowers known.

Recalling at times the densely textured orchestrations of Hart Crane, Robert Duncan, or Clark Coolidge, Tritica’s poetry ultimately stakes out its own territory, adding something of high value to the 20th-century tradition of experimental lyricism.

—Stephen-Paul Martin

Reverence pervades this engagement ‘in visual alphabet,’ replete with the Tao of high desert, discovered, restated (“Primrose can take the whole/ the desert over”, “Desert can overtake the whole/ bed’s primrose”; “To overtake the whole primrose bed/ the desert flees/ a dense scrutiny”). The liberal, beautiful facts for the senses to touch and equate to form splayed punctuation of human intention (“Woke with a car alarm scraping my ears”). Residence means breathing among, thus in context, and sometimes with eyes (closed). John Tritica is fluent in miracles often unnoticed. He watches the smells as the colors are sung (sing themselves). And form nourishment that punctuates a life. Part of residing is worshipping blends of the holy and common (“How rain records its alphabet”), aware that they switch roles and places (“birds comma the slight wind”; “mushrooms kiss the rotted trees”). This work finds nourishment by juxtaposing human habit and its sister industry of bees, branches, rain evolving into spirit toward “Stillness, an intense act.”

—Sheila E. Murphy

John Tritica studied at the University of California, San Diego, Lund University in Sweden, and Miami University, which culminated in a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico and a dissertation on Kenneth Rexroth. While in Sweden, he met the poet Niklas Törnlund whose work he translated—All Things Measure Time (published by The Landlocked Press.) Tritica’s reviews, essays, and poems have been published extensively in literary magazines for years. He lives with his family in Albuquerque.