Omissionary by Stephen James Dvorak
Not So Subjective
by María Mendoza Cervantes
The poems gathered in Omissionary (Back 2 Print, 2014) take you through a four-part journey in which Stephen James Dvorak’s use of irony, repetition, and colloquial wit slowly strips our world of our subjectivity. Dvorak challenges the reader to see their world as it truly is and accept this world whole heartedly.
In the piece, “This Is Not a Depressing Poem,” you can feel that Dvorak is trying to demystify his world. By stating what he is or is not doing, he is questioning the notion of subjectivity. He works out his reality on paper, and while at times this can be confusing, the feeling of confusion is deliberate. It makes the reader think about the deceptively simple actions Dvorak is taking. This action on our part becomes a practice that helps us understand the meaning behind his transformative-style repetition.
Has anyone supposed that not every man has a beard?
I’m not thinking of this as I’m walking to the gas station.
Or I’m not driving there—
I swear I won’t mention Florida in this poem.
By the window there is light;
light that is not coming from men.
I am sitting by the open window and exuding
because if people knew what I am talking about
they are thinking of beards that shed human light.
The light is contemplated and found in different places, like a candle or a window. The poems suggest that this light is nothing more than just light, but it starts to feel like maybe there is something that Dvorak can to see that we can’t. Not yet.
In the piece, “Blessed are the Sick” Dvorak has come to see that the only truth in “spiritual signs” is that they are not real. Dvorak helps us understand that what is presented at face value is not without meaning as subjective mystical believers may teach us to believe. He teaches us as the readers how to be spiritual without being dogmatic.
Regret the day you were born all you want, a bird
circling overhead cannot make good these promises.
A population of meaning has no symbol with which
it can reveal itself to you…
Think of a phrase or a sentence, think of it over and over
again in your head, this is how we can stop time,
take a deep breath, this is what it means to pray.
Also in "Blessed are the Sick," Dvorak writes about Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s relationship. Dvorak’s colloquial style really helps distinguish what he wants us to take from the relationship of this 19th century couple while simultaneously wrapping together the point of his book.
He, a Christian, did not believe that dreams held meaning, but Mary Todd was freaked out. . . . Even though everyone thought Mary Todd was a crazy bitch, Abraham Lincoln loved her, and he had the endless patience of Christ, if others just knew her the way he did . . .
Dvorak’s idiosyncrasies and diction help push his message of self-acceptance. By omitting metaphorical subjectivisms, he helps us think about the world as a whole without being convoluted. He helps us embrace people and things as they really are.
Omissonary is available on iBooks and hard copies are available at the following locations:
Quimby's Book Store: 1854 W. North Ave. Chicago, IL 60622
City Lit Books: 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd. Chicago, IL 60647
Uncharted Books: 2620 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL, 60647
Women and Children First Bookstore: 5233 N Clark St. Chicago, IL 60640
G-Mart Comics: 2641 N Kedzie Ave. Chicago, IL 60647