Rough around the edges, this poetry collection reflects its raw slam poetry roots without the benefit of editing or reworking to confirm that there’s sense and context to the sounds and beats laid down. Like an REM song, the sounds maybe be pleasant, but that doesn’t always translate to coherence. It’s more akin to a Facebook rant that one agrees with, but which doesn’t enlighten us.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some lines, verses and poems rising above the non-specific and idiomatic. There are–such as in “Donald Trump’s Huge New Erection” which shows the poet’s appreciation and understanding of Ginsberg’s Howl:
. . . Money is the mean little shit
who burned the wings off butterflies
aged eleven holding mirrors
up towards the sun,
who called his father a bastard
for simply standing up to him . . .
. . .Money is metal,
the acidic taste of hangovers
your mother never mentioned,
the tears of seventeen-year-olds
volunteered for war
now showered with brains
as bullets hit the skulls
of their commanding officers . . .
Unfortunately, what works at the mike doesn’t always translate to the page. Then, a rare gem will shine with the promise of energy-infused poems hiding out deeper into the collection. The opening lines of “The Fusion of Music and Movement” are breath-takingly simple and beautiful: “She’s always an illusion / a confusing fusion / of music and movement,” but then seem compromised if not undermined by the over-reliance of wordplay and rhyme in the lines that immediately follow: “where every chord / should be explored, / and I can’t afford / to lose her . . .”
One strong poem is “The Boy in the Picture” that takes the time to narrow its scope and hone its message about a vintage WWII photograph:
He could’ve been anyone,
so he was everyone,
every murdered son
on the Western Front,
and every bullet
from every gun;
. . . there’s something sinister and brooding
and when you’re steeped in sepia
it’s easier to believe in meaning . . .
The best poem in the collection, “Beneath the War Memorial,” is exquisite. The humble voice contrasts with the bulk of the collection as it zeroes in on the universal theme of trying to find meaning in the inexplicable. It’s closing lines are contemplative and , perhaps, perfect: “Search for truth and wisdom; / search for subtlety / beneath the linden tree; / place your hand / on my thigh– / the birds will melt / in snowy silence.”