Written by Wayne F. Burke
Review by Jarad Johnson
I read this little book of poems over breakfast one morning, and I still haven't totally worked out my opinion on it. It certainly left me thinking. After reading the first poem, I could not tell if I was going to be receptive or not. This is not a book of poetry that begs to be liked. Some of the poems are abrasive, but this seems foundational to the poet’s theme.
The poems themselves are written in a sort of stream of consciousness style, which I rather enjoyed. The poem, “Shopping,” was one of my favorites. The last couple of lines stuck with me: “I left with my bags under my arms without having connected to anyone in that place.” I too feel that way when I go to a supermarket. It feels like a bunch of people ignoring each other, and I often think that I wouldn’t want to have a conversation with them anyway. I think my favorite by far though was, “a better place.” It was real and honest and stuck with me, a distillation of the routine surrounding death, down to the cold comfort offered by the priest and the restaurant they only go to after funerals. It’s the most poignant poem in the collection, and as someone who recently went to a funeral, it is very true. There are routines to everything, even death. There are the family members you only see at funerals, there’s the funeral outfit; you may even go to eat at the same place after every funeral, all a part of the routine.
Some of the poetry felt unfinished, as if it hadn’t quite formed before being put down on paper. Some of the poet’s crude language felt as though it did not quite fit, seeming more out of place than edgy, disrupting the harmonious flow and rhythm without a focus for the confrontation, occasionally throwing me from the essence of the poem. Perhaps, as I thought when I read it, that was the intention, but ultimately, I felt that more control would have added a sharper result. The poems also had a somewhat disconnected quality and I think a more narrative approach might have helped, allowing some of the poems to flow together more easily.
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!