The subject matter of Seasons of the Blood is straight out of Tarot, with the majority of the poems titled after suits and Arcana, and various individual cards (i.e. "The Hanged Man," "Death," "The Hermit," "The Tower"). The poems are all cast in various of the Japanese forms: mondo, katauta, sedoka, choka, tanka, somonka, waka, haiku, and senryu. The poet executes these forms with a deft hand, though Western symbolism sits uneasily in Asian poetic forms which eschew the sort of thing Turco is doing — but then, he has made them into Western forms, and they do work. Here is
Moon takes the tide where
a tide must go: Light pierces
the hardest crystal.
Stone shall be filled with water,
and dust will be filled with blood.
These poems are written in the form of dialogues, as of one seeking and being given advice by a card reader. It lends them the power that such consultative procedures can often have, as in
There is a black hole
in space, where the universe
This is what I have read.
The scientists frighten me.
Have you never heard
of the hermetic dragon?
Do not be afraid.
What disappears is not lost.
The snake is eating its tail.
Stylistically, the poems are impeccable. If they come across as cryptic, it is because they are intended to function as Oracles: not as mirrors of the truth, but as tools through which an understanding of the truth may be approached. They collaborate with the reader, rather than instruct. Let me close with
The heart is a coin
of fire. How shall we spend it?
How is the sun spent?
by Gene Van Troyer
Late Co-editor, Speculative Japan: Outstanding Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy.
NOTE: Although Seasons of the Blood is out-of-print, the whole series is available in Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007, Scottsdale, AZ: www.StarCloudPress.com, 2007. ISBN 978-1-932842-19-7, cloth; ISBN 978-1-932842-20-3, paper. Also available in a Kindle edition.