Earth Is Best
Author: Peter O'Leary
Publisher: The Cultural Society (2019)
In a time of ecological crisis, Peter O'Leary finds in mushrooms "an elaborate pattern," a circulation of energy, a strange Kingdom with the power to alter consciousness. From the opening line "Earth is best," each proposition takes root in the terroir of soils, in the woods and meadows of the Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest. On each foray, we find hidden systems bearing fruit, "crowning from the duff of white pines / and birch trees," extending upward from "loam's rich undying gloom." Equally, these poems bloom from a rich mulch of linguistic inheritance, a compost of ancient texts and esoteric knowledge, searching out old words of exquisite exactitude and resonance. As readers, our attention quickens as we join the hunt, discovering elemental pleasures on every page, sometimes with the prickling onset of psychedelic consciousness. And like fungi, these poems work to break down false oppositions, returning us to a reciprocity between death and life, panic and joy, anxiety and euphoria, tocsin and cure.