The Skin of Meaning by Keith Flynn

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By Lynette G. Esposito
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The Skin of Meaning by Keith Flynn published by Red Hen Press, Pasadena California is, according to Quincy Troupe, author of Ghost Voices Keith Flynn is a brilliant, bodacious poet at the top of his sonic, linguistic game in his new volume of poetry The Skin of Meaning with poems that dance of the page in arpeggio of light, gripping the reader’s imagination, and taking American poetry in a new exhilarating direction. This is high praise, but this volume of poetry delivers.
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In one hundred and eighty-one pages, Flynn covers themes of faith, violence, the justice system and more.  He unafraid to be frank and clear in his images and message. In his poem Climate Change on page fifty-three, he discusses what God sees when she observes what is happening.
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                           If you want to know
                          what God thinks about
                          Wealth, then closely
                          observe the people
                          She decides to give to us.
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He proceeds in the ten-stanza poem filled with color and image to show how the premise works. In the seventh stanza he speaks of a scorpion necklace and in the final stanza of a polar bear seeking a berm of ice to rest its skinny fur on. The expanse of the poem is broad and inclusive with references to nature in its many states.  His skill with linguistics and suggestion is successful.
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On page one hundred and seven, Flynn expores the theme of Stylish Violence.
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                         Into this life I am poured
                         a trip wire, and the tears
                         I shed yesterday, whose
                         circumference are everywhere
                         have become rain.
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He is speaking of the conflict of the poet to create lasting beauty and what this entails. He uses situation and image to reveal what poet goes through mentioning witches and beach walks, a long arm around how a writer is affected. His final stanza brings closer:
                    ……….
                     No one is immune to the drive=by,
                     the random spree, the knock at the door,
                     and the stranger, straddling the original
                     choice, with a whirl-wind for a voice.
Flynn captures the wide boundaries and internal demands the poet faces when he creates.
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Flynn also shows violence in the too common occurrence when a deer is hit on the road in his poem The Long Black Road on page one hundred and thirty. The poem has seventeen stanzas that are all couplets.  He opens the poem with:
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                   Having been chased into the roar and clash,
                   trapped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike,
                   even the 10-point buck, agile as he was,
                   could not escape, no way to fudge this.
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Flynn has set time and place clearly with a situation that can only end in a negative manner.  It does.  The buck is shot in the head to put it out of its misery, The couplets go through the steps of the buck going down and on-lookers and responders dealing with what has happened.  The final couplets are vivid.
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                  One wrong move from death’s certain broom
                  Damn things ought to learn, the trooper said,
                  and turned his back on the night.  All the drivers
steered past, thankfully trapped behind their steel
                  and glass, their futures fixed and their suitcase
                  packed, right foot firmly planted on the gas.
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The tragedy of the buck and the lack of emotion by those passing by gives the reader a death chill the image is so poetically cold.
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This is a wonderful book of poetry.  It is well worth more than one read.
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The Skin of Meaning is available from https://redhen.org/book/the-skin-of-meaning/
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
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