Review By Jarad Johnson
This profound poetry collection offers not only a mixture of personal reflection and societal commentary, but it also reads as a memoir. The author examines and dissects significant moments from his life, and through this we live his experiences, know his emotions and passions, as well as his torment. By the end, you almost come to know the author on a personal level. I at least learned a great deal about him and, no doubt myself, through the pages. In that way, it shows that some experiences are universal, no matter who they happen to. I also feel that the author didn’t make the mistake of aggrandizing his work, which is something that I find in a lot of poetry, where the passion is obscured and hidden behind rhymes, structure and flippant language. This is not that. Mostly, the emotion is raw, intense, and irreverent. You will find no fluff here.
One of the pieces that I want to discuss is called, “Splinter Under the Fingernail,” which is one of my favorites from the first section. It is essentially the author’s commentary on the degradation of news and politics, which is something that is extremely relevant right now. For me, this piece is spot on in describing what has been happening in the last six months, pointing out how distracted the public has been while, “Those perverts in D.C are gang-raping the Bill of Rights.” And of course, it’s true, sadly; the public has been distracted and apathetic for too long. You hear it all the time when someone says, “I just don’t care about politics,” and it was proven when an average of forty percent of people didn’t vote. Even the news, our supposed source of information, is also distracted, he says.
You can feel the frustration and the absolute disillusionment with the government in his writing that is now permeating the majority of the American public when he writes, “Can you smell the filth?” In the last couple of lines, he warns of a proverbial avalanche coming, and that people may wake up too late before it gets here. “Quit making the talentless rich with your terrible taste.”
While I think that this poem can be interpreted in many ways, for me, it summed up the disgust, revulsion, and embarrassment that has become part of everyone’s daily lives since January. I, like many people, can smell the filth. And as much as I try to escape it, it oozes through every crack available and gets stronger by the day.
At one time or another, most people have used the excuse of car trouble to justify being late. In this poem titled with that common explanation, the author exposes his heartache over a recent breakup. It is a raw and unfiltered glimpse at someone who has had their heart broken. It almost feels like you’re intruding on a private moment when you read this, because it’s so intimate and personal. The author is so deeply affected by this that he cannot even bring himself to pass a café where his ex-girlfriend used to work, which makes him fifteen minutes late for work every day. There is a sense of bitterness laced throughout the poem, especially in the last stanzas, when he talks of her feet. When you’re in love with someone, you love every part of them, even their feet. However, when you fall out of love, sometimes you hate everything about them, “Those, ugly, calloused feet.”
Sometimes I found this collection funny, and that was definitely the case with, “Beehive.” It details the authors friend, Zach, who wants to be a professional photographer, but who loathes them and their moustaches at the same time. He’s intently taking pictures of a beehive, which he thinks will rival their pictures of tulips. Of course, he gets too close and steps on the hive, and he quite suddenly has a swarm of bees chasing him half-naked into traffic, which is the most hilarious thing that I’ve heard for some tim. I suppose that there is a broader message there, pride cometh before the fall and all that, but honestly, I love this poem because it made me laugh, and it somehow makes me hope that one of my friends happens upon a beehive one day.
Overall, I found that the author’s voice was well defined and relatable. I liked that his approach to poetry was somewhat unique, using a more raw, stream of consciousness approach rather than a carefully structured format. The author's unique style couples with his intensely emotional self-reflection and spot-on social commentary, mark this book as one that has something for everyone. Any reader, young or old, can enjoy this book for what it is: an example of good writing.
Jarad attends Middle Tennessee State University, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad is majoring in English. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!