In his Poetry Notebook (Liveright, 2014), Clive James says that “Man on the Moon” by Australian poet Stephen Edgar is “a perfect poem”—though he admits he’d rather not use that adjective. “The word,” he writes, “just doesn’t convey enough meaning to cover, or even approach, the integrity of the manufacture.”
Is it perfect? I dunno. James does make a convincing case. What I can tell you is that it absolutely wrecked me when I read it this morning. And re-read it—half a dozen times.
Elsewhere in the book, James writes about “a lightning strike of an idea that goes beyond thought and perception and into the area of metaphorical transformation.”
Yup. That happened.