Lynette G. Esposito

Refuse by Julian Randall

refuse

By Lynette G. Esposito

.

In Refuse published by the University of Pittsburgh Press Pitt Poetry Series, Julian Randall, as many poets do, explores the tortured vision of the self as he makes his way through an unsettled world exposing biases and rules which a person attempts to fit into.  In the eighty-five pages of introspective and sometimes raw poetry, themes of self- examination; sorrow and parental connections are presented in various lengths and forms.
.
In his poem, Elegy for the Winter After Taina was Cancelled on page thirteen, he uses images of photographs, even if they aren’t real, to depict his relationship to his mother, her skin color and children at play.
.
                         In the photograph     which never existed
                         I am roughly 7
                         on a block somewhere
                         near Michigan Ave.
.
                                                                           It is worth noting
                                                                           that even in the photographs
                                                                          I look exactly like my mother                                                                        
                                                                         except for the skin
.
Randall adjusts the form of the poem to represent what is there and not there using indentations and spacings in a suggestive way to fit his narrative and skillfully presents a time and place where things are connected and disconnected at the same.  He speaks of the white children playing Bestial with joy.  It is a complicated poem open to many interpretations but has a light touch in tone, situation and place.
.
In his poem On the Night I Fear Coming Out to My Parents on page forty-one, Randall weighs the pros and cons of his parental reactions.  He not only has concern for himself but also for the ones he cares about.  It is a one-stanza prose poem concerning self- reflection.
.
                        I am afraid of something I am and have never named.  My tongue
                       is a refuge for secrets. How does one fear banishment if they were
                       born in exile?
.
The poem succeeds in posing outcomes of unmasking yourself and its consequences.  It also shows Randall’s skill in writing a variety of poetic forms.
.
On page seventy-five, Randall presents a Tanka for the 4th of July. Again, Randall shows his skillful poetic control and raw commentary. He gives this poem time and place independent of the holiday mentioned in the title. The narrator is not explicit in meaning but the tone suggests a resiliency of the narrator on a day that celebrates freedom.
.
                                         I will spend the day
                                         surviving which is the most
                                         un-American
                                         use of my body since I
                                         spat loose a bullet and laughed.
.
This tome is not for everyone.  The poem’s subjects can be raw and direct.  I like the book because of the sincere clarity of the narrator’s voice that shows both vulnerability and strength in being. Randall is a talented writer with a broad range.
.

The book is available from www.upress.pitt.edu

.
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.
.
.
.

Journeyman’s Suitcase by Mike James

journey
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
In Journeyman’s Suitcase by Mike James, published by Luchador Press, clear questions and observations open a literary window of perspective and viewpoint. The fifty-two pages of this short tome are mostly one-stanza experiences that read like someone’s notebook as the writer interprets representative images into logical conclusions.
 .
For example, in the poem False Confessions on page three, James presents things that never happened in a one-stanza truncated sentence form.
. 
                   The time you panhandled for tattoos. The monthly
                   payments for transcendence.  All the famous people waived at or
                   had orgies with.  The time you found the burnt wreckage
                   of flaming shoes.  Childhood spent tossing pennies behind the
                   Red Dirt Cabaret.  The mother who worked as both a nun and a
                   stripper. The medical journal contribution about aspirin as a
                   cure for love sick penguins.  How you were the first o capitalize
                   and conjugate KAPOW.  That ability to translate any fairy
                   language into Yiddish.  The parakeets who sang duets while
                   you scrambled and re-scrambled the eggs from the plain white
                   chickens you raised. The prize-winning rooster from Borneo.
.
The choices of the false confessions suggest bravado and humor as well as serving a good dose of how our memory works and what we are willing to confess to even if there is little truth in it.
.
James uses this same tone and technique in the poem, She Could Have been a Seller of Indulgences on page twenty-one This poem shows a perception of time as it controls and/or influences one’s choices.  The poem is presented in a two–stanza format.
.
                        It was never easy for her especially on Tuesdays, as we know
                        how Tuesdays are with their leftover promises from the start
                        from the start of the week and the day before.  It’s probably not enough
                        that every third day she wore a sun dress to keep the sun
                        interested and nearby.
.
The reader is introduced to the she of the poem by what she wears and on what day. she wears it.  There is a certain tonal sorrow for this SHE as the unnamed person who seems to be holding on by the thread of a perhaps unneeded sun dress on a specific day of the week. The answer the narrator gives is to keep the sun near and interested. This is almost like a Don Quixote scene without windmills.  In its place is the sun.
.
The second stanza gives details of her life and the dry chardonnay she shares at her dining room court with her nail technicians and everyone else.  It is like a short story without unnecessary details.
.
In part two of this volume, the journey continues as James explores the everyday symbols that define everyday life. The image of a map is used in Too Far on page thirty-nine.
.
                               A map keeps you from too far.
                               That’s a map’s job.
 .
                               The best map would reflect stars.
.
This poem like so many of the poems in this book, suggest in a direct way the meaning, both literal and figurative, of everyday objects that guide us.
.
James demonstrates his prowess in observing and analyzing poetically how the world works.  The book is a pleasure to read and quick paced.
.
.
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.
.
.
.

Library Rain by Rustin Larson

library
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
Rustin Larson’s poetry volume, Library Rain, has 50 pages of poems that vary in length, style and subject matter. Many of the poems have been previously published in a wide variety of literary journals and other publications.   This volume has a good mix of Larson’s tightly focused and innovative images and literary skill.
.
Larson, in his poem Man of The Future on pages four and five and first published in Saranac Review, focuses on a narrator who observes riders on a transit bus and gives them nicknames. One is named The Man of the Future and another is named Mrs. Rabbit. The two sit next to each other their thighs touching. Then, suddenly, they avoid each other. Larson ends this two-page seven stanza poem with:
.
                                 I’m no genius. I’ve made plenty
                                 Of  mistakes.  If life gives you something,
                                 You take it, and you don’t ask any questions,
                                 And then when life takes it away
                                 Again,  then what?  There is no elegant way
                                 to put this.  If we’ve lived this far,
                                 We’ve become the future we once thought was distant.
.
Life on the bus translates in figurative form, to a truth of gain and loss and time unexpectedly bringing the future to us too quickly.  Larson’s choice of place, a bus that carries people back and forth to work, also encapsulates the repetitive rhythm of a pentameter keeping time even as it moves forward.
.
John Peterson of Wapsipinicon  Almanac says “Larson writes like an angel, but one who’s willing to work both sides of the street.” This can be seen in Larson’s poem Summer Vacation (The Iowa Source) on pages twenty-eight and twenty-nine. It is like many of Larson’s poems, a vignette in poetry. A young boy has his first sexual encounter with a girl and it is more fantasy than reality as others in the poem both congratulate and condemn the experience. The narrator of the poem presents the idea of someone who is there but not there as a reality check.  The following lines suggest our involvement in our own life plot.
.
                              The miracle is that we each live a story
                              That really isn’t about us at all.
.
The narrator comments that this is the plotline for every thing .I find this is a little on the negative side but also I hear the ring of truth to it.
.
Many of Larson’s poems have this double edge to them with the common settings and place suggesting much more.  On page fifty, the poem, A Yet to Be Determined Painting, (Briar Cliff Review) has beautiful imagery but underneath the beauty, is broken machinery.
.
                        Maple sees flickered down from the branches.
                       “We are replacements for butterflies,”
                        they said with their illusion of two wings.
                        They struck the boards of the deck
                        and then they just lay there broken machinery,
                        done, the pilot green, the current strong.
.
These strong images encourage the reader to take a second look at nature and how it reflects on how one imagines life.
.
The poems in this book are a pleasure to read and give the reader insight into the world around them. Larson’s complex inter mix of ideas and form work well throughout the book.
.
.
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.

The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku – Selected Tercets 1996-2019 by Eileen R. Tabios

hay
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
Marsh Hawk Press has released The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku  Selected Tercets 1996-2019 a comprehensive tome of poetry by Eileen R. Tabios  The collection is a blend of long, skinny poems with amazing forms, concepts and images in 233 pages.
The comments on Tabios’ work are many. One that catches the unique quality of this collection is from kultureflash. In kultureflash:  Headlines from London: —enormous tonal range in her poetry. A breathless intensity may be her most characteristic mode. While tonal is a subjective reaction by the reader to poetic work, this comment works.
.
For example, on page eighty-nine:
.
     
                                              Girl Singing
                                              39
                                             Girl singing day when “I”
.
                                             is a Verb, the leaf beyond
                                             my bedroom window becomes
                                             a universe of contemplation
.
                                            rather than a mere fragment
 .                                           at the mercy of a faint breeze.
.
The switch from an intellectual comment to the power of nature symbolically represented by a leaf and a breeze shows tremendous poetic skill. The revelation beyond one’s constrained space combined with the change of a pronoun into an action (verb) is an amazing transition into contemplating the universe and the self within it. The tone is both calm and direct.
.
This same technique of mixing conceptual suggestions with interpretive imagery can be seen on page 138 in the poem La Loca.
.
                                      In the green
                                      morning I
                                      wanted
.
                                      to be a
                                      heart. A
                                      heart.
.
                                     And at evening’s
                                     end, I
                                    wanted
.
                                     to be my
                                     voice
                                     a nightingale.
                                             — LO(R)CA
.
The ninety-two stanza poem creates, both in form and image, a sense of self in relationship to time and place. Each stanza is in three lines (tercet) and extends over nine pages. Although long, the poem is well controlled and a pleasure to read.
,
Another poem that demonstrates Tabios’ unique poetic abilities is The Ineffability of Mushrooms (A Novella in Verse) on page 192 to196, which tells a storywith the time being prior to war. Tabios uses numbers in groupings of tercets to indicate chapters.
.
                                           1
                                          The porcini appeared
                                          under right
                                          conditions:
                                          after heavy rain
                                          soaked warn
                                         earth–
.
                                          this desired combination
                                         lovingly labeled
                                         “smoke.”
.
The first three stanzas represent the first of five numbered chapters using the tercet stanza form  and intermingling conceptual images with reader interpretations. The poem snakes down  the page setting up time, place and situation. A symbol enjoying delicious mushrooms ends with a shock. The shock uses the timing of receiving a bag of mushrooms for the last time and the out break of war. The association with a gift and the outbreak of conflict is interesting. Tabios is very skilled.
.
                                   …Later in
                                        London, I
                                        received
.
                                        each Autumn one
                                        precious, single
                                        bag
.
                                        of dried mushrooms
                                        and memories
                                        then
.
                                        lingering like smoke.
                                        The last
                                        arrived
.
                                         In 1939, shortly
                                        after the
                                        outbreak
.
                                        of war
.
This poem successfully leads to London and the big changes coming to that city in 1939.
.
The book is well organized and the subjects are broad but spring from specific symbols that work both logically and figuratively. Poems vary from three lines to many pages. There is good variety, a little instruction and much to be discussed in this prism of poems that shares so much light
.
.

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.

.

.

The Bear by Andrew Krivak

bear
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
In a short poem, Robert Frost posed the question, how will the world end–in fire or ice?Dylan Thomas in his famous villanelle Do Not Go Gentle in That Good Night called for us to rage against the dying of the light. Andrew Krivak, in his novel, The Bear, published by Bellevue Literary Press (released February 2020) suggests the end of human beings is not the end of the world but more a natural cycle of events: not fire, nor ice nor rage but almost like going to sleep.  He blends mythological understandings with the quiet natural extinction of a species.
.
The story reads like an epic poem with images both literal and figurative leading the reader along the path returning everything to nature before humans existed.
.
He begins his novel with: The last two were a girl and her father who lived along the old eastern range on the side of a mountain they called the mountain that stands alone.  The setting, the human relationship and the naming of the mountain are all gently symbolic of the storyline. Krivak focuses on how the father teaches his daughter survival techniques handed down from one generation to another interlaced with legendary tales of a bear.  The father begins the training before the young girl is five as if he has a premonition of things to come.  The father is right.
.
The father and daughter are well drawn through the educational and protective concerns for the daughter by the father. Krivak’s presentation through the father’s understanding of how to clean and tan a hide, how to weight an arrow, how to make shoes from animal skins and other skills are believable.  When the father is teaching his daughter, he is also teaching the reader these forgotten skills once so important.
.
Krivak writes clearly and effectively of a girl’s journey away from and back to the only home she has known. Along the way, a mythical bear serves as her guide even while he is in winter hibernation.  If the reader allows suspension of disbelief to work, the reality of the fable becomes plausible and the storyline more pleasurable.
.
The novel is made up of 223 pages and is well paced.   Krivak refreshes an old theme of the end of human existence and its consequences.   The last chapter begins:
.
                  In her final years, the old woman spoke to all the living things of the
                  earth between the mountain and the lakeshore, for they came to
                  her without fear or dominion,,,
.
The fiction presents a clear appreciation for nature and all life.  The mythological bear works well as a literary device and symbol of continuousness.
 .
Krivak’s is well skilled in using universal themes such as the symbol of  an animal guide, the journey home, the last one, and belief in all nature’s living things  This is a very enjoyable read.
.
Andrew Krivak is the author of two previous novels, The Signal Flame, and The Sojourn., a National Book Award Finalist and winner of both the Chautauqua Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize    He lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Massachusetts.
.
The Bear is available from Consortium Book Sakes and distribution: www.cbsdcom and http://www.blpress.org
.
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.

Pain Studies by Lisa Olstein

pain
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
Are you in pain?  Its 2020 and maybe there is a need for a qualified author to discuss this issue.  Pain Studies by Lisa Olstein and published by Bellevue Press does just that. Olstein redefines the understanding of pain through an extended lyrical essay that includes poetry, conversation and perceptions of pain.
.
The opening chapter begins with:
.
                            All pain is simple.  And all pain complex. You’re in it and
                            you want to get out.  How can the ocean be not beautiful
                            today?
.
                            Pain is pain:  vivid even in its opacity, vague even in its
                            precision.  Pain reduces and expands, diminishes and
                            amplifies, bears down upon us, wells up within us, goes by
                            the as often as by my, and only rarely by our. 
.
The next paragraph uses the words: “Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck as Olstein begins to describe the birthing of her child.  This honesty about birth pain alerts the reader that this is a no holds bared author and the discussion of pain will be real. Starkly refreshing, this honesty brings the reader close to the writer as well as to the subject of pain in an intimate way women have with other women who have given birth and endured the choices of how to give birth and how to handle the pain.  Her style of writing is crystal clear and although the subject is pain, it is like watching a rider and horse jumping rope:  fascinating.
.
In thirty-eight short chapters comprising 181 pages, Olstein explores the notion of pain with a variety of writing styles. Her creative nonfiction employs personal revelations such as her birthing experience, conversations about pain and poetic techniques.  In chapter thirteen she refers to Antiphon the Sophist in the late fifth-century B.C. who suggests people should not fear dreams and was criticized for this philosophy.  He is believed to have written a treatise The Art of Freedom from Pain.  Olstein explores the surviving fragments of Antiphon’s discussions and expands the discussion into chapter fourteen discussing the language used by Antiphon and other Sophists concerning pain. In chapter fifteen she brings the reader into the present with her neurologist attempting to define migraine pain.  Pain is old, pain is new, pain is present she seems to observe.  She explores how we are trying to avoid it as well as understand it. Some of the interpretations read like poetry; some like analysis, and some like a conversation with a therapist.
.
 On page 151, Olstein talks about perception and how it affects us in attempting to make sense of the world.  She quotes Jonah Lehrer a science writer and one-time lab technician who suggests that the brain is redefining cellular forecasts.  The wide scope of her references opens the discussion of pain to a broad spectrum…perhaps too broad.
She ends the book with a poem on hearing voices.  This technique to end a full-length creative nonfiction essay this way is a little risky to bring the discussion to closure.  If the intent was to leave the discussion at an open door, I think this technique succeeds.
.                                                                                   
 Olstein teaches at the University of Texas at Austin and has authored four award-winning poetry collections published by Copper Canyon Press.  She is a member of the poetry faculty at the University of Texas at Austin where she teaches in the New Writers Project and Michener Center for Writers MFA programs.  She also serves as an associate editor for Topeka Quarterly.  Pain Studies is her first book of creative nonfiction. For further reference, the author’s website is LISA OLSTEIN

Pain Studies is available in March 2020 from Consortium Book Sales and Distribution www.cbsd.com or www.blpress.org

.

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.

.

.

Cesare by Jerome Charyn

ceas
.
By Lynette G. Espositio
.
Just in time for 2020 reading, Jerome Charyn gives us a novel of war-torn Berlin and a love story extraordinaire.  Published by Bellevue Literary Press and just released this month, Charyn takes the reader back to a World War II timeline and the dangers and complexities of war intrigues, plot twists and character revelations.
.
Before the novel’s first chapter begins, Charyn uses several literary techniques to prepare the reader.  He presents a list of major and minor characters; a glossary of definitions, and a dated letter to set up time, place and situational attitudes.  I like these techniques because it helps the reader have more intimacy with the storyline.  The letter in particular sets the time and situation:  February 11, 1943 from the desk of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Berlin.  The reader is ready for war.
.
The 367 pages of intrigue presented in seven chapters moves at a quick but controlled pace.  The reader is introduced to Erik (Cesare) in a Jewish orphanage sent there by a council of whores who, according to the narrator, sent their “little wolf” there for a better life.  The whores subsidize the orphanage.  War changes this.
.
So the main character is in an orphanage going hungry, is Jewish and alone in World War II  Germany.  How can the plot twists turn to positivism?  An uncle saves him, his mother reappears, the Nazi movement flourishes.  Great reading as the characters reveal themselves and their survival techniques in troubled times.
.
One of techniques Charyn uses to reveal who a character is involves common stress relievers that an average person might employ when dealing with poor solution scenarios.
.
One of techniques Charyn uses to reveal who a character is involves common stress relievers that an average person might employ when dealing with poor solution scenarios.
.
                              Erik went on fewer missions.  He’d walk the streets
                              at night in his black leather coat, but he could not save
                              the Jews of his own district.
.
In a later section he reveals
.
                               He’d kill himself, fall under a moving truck, if he had
                               to follow the admiral’s prescriptions.  He’d save entire
                               families or no one at all.
.

It is easy to perceive Erik’s anguish and frustration and for the reader to identify with the character and his situation.  But yet, for all his self conflict and remuneration, Erik  survives.

Charyn  presents the journey of Cesare, rescued by a conflicted Nazi, as he finds his way from his Jewish childhood, the loss of his father at two, the disappearance of his mother, to the life of a Bavarian aristocracy through his sister’s brother and to so much more.  The search for self as the self is changed and changed again is clear and well presented.

Cesare who was Erik seems to be living the preverbal nine lives.

There is a love story that propels the storyline forward.  Joyce Carol Oates says of Charyn in a New York Times Review. “Among Charyn’s writerly gifts is dazzling energy—a highly inflected rapid-fire prose that pulls us along like a pony cart over rough terrain.”

I agree. The prose keeps the reader aware and interested throughout the novel. The storyline shows how love does not conquer all but at least gives life meaning.  Cesare is a well-crafted book and well worth reading.

Cesare is available from www.b.press.org and www.cbsd.com

.

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.

We Are Beat, National Poetry Festival Anthology

beat

By Lynette G. Esposito

Beat poetry is defined as poetry that has no conventional form and which is unencumbered by conventional rules. The We Are Beat National Poetry Festival Anthology published by Local Gems, a small press in Long Island New York and edited by James P. Wagner (Ishwa) is a gem of 267 pages of delicious verse written by poets from many walks of life from firefighters to engineers to lawyers to teachers to spoken word artists both national and international.  The poetry is as varied and interesting as the poets themselves.

The authors are presented alphabetically by authors’ last names.  The poems proceed in no other order or credential and are standalone pieces of art.  The authors’ credentials follow each poem.  When the reader dives into this river of poetry, the water is very inviting all through the anthology.  For example, on page 23.Carolyn Chatham presents We Will Drink From Broken Cups. The poem begins:

.

                                        We will drink from broken cups
                                        This bitter brew
                                        A country scene of trees and cows and grass
                                        and lads and lasses dallying together
                                        adorn its rim

.

This is such a sweet scene but the poem twists to an explanation of climate change and unanswerable explanations of a world we slew.

On page 168, Juan Perez writes Eyes Closed and Dancing.

.

                                        I close my eyes and I am dancing
                                       At the senior prom, in 1987
                                       With a smoking hot brunette
                                       Things are great so far….

.

The sixty-six line ten-stanza poem details life after the amazing dance and the amazing life that follows.   Perez uses images that are common to most readers, marriage children old age and the realization of mortality.  He answers the question of what happens when we close our eyes and look back over our life when we are about to leave.

Ron Whitehead speaks of Shootin’Up Poetry in New Orleans on page 254.  It is a narrative poem in prose form that successfully explores the loss of poetic inspiration and its successful return.  It begins in Algiers and ends in The Howlin’ Wolf Club in New Orleans. The narrator laments I’m feeling burnt out, tired to the bone.  The narrator calls on previous poets such as Jack Kerouac for help.  When inspiration hits, the narrator says:

.

                                  The word sets us free.
                                  And I think of Allen Ginsberg
                                 And what he said about taking someone’s hand
                                 Cause we’re all in this together.
                                 We’re pullin’.  We ain’t pushin’
                                 We’re lettin’ it be.
                                 We realize that when one is lifted up
                                 We’re all lifted up
                                And I realize that Poetry is life
                                And life is poetry

.

Outside the Howlin’ Wolf Club all is well.  The 48 hour INSOMNIACATHON will go on and be a success.  There is a full smilin’ moon in New Orleans. The intensity of  the resolution leaves the reader with relief like finding your Rolex  in the lost and found.

Many fresh voices from many different countries can be heard in this anthology.   It is a pleasure to read.

Local Gems Poetry Press is a small Long Island, New York based poetry press.  It has published over150 titles.  Local Gems can be reached at www.localgemspoetrypress.com

.
Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review, Bindweed Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, That Literary Review, The Remembered Arts Journal, and other literary magazines.

Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor by Mike James

jump

By Lynette G. Esposito

Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor by Mike James reads like notes to a friend.  The sixty-four pages of poems are vignette paragraph stanzas that reveal an analytical mind parading images across the page for the reader to interpret.

Divided into five sections, the tome, published by Blue Horse Press of Redondo, California, covers cross dressing, body types and other observations with dry sardonic wit that pokes at traditional conventions and judgments.  On page one, My Wife’s Shoes reveals that the narrator’s wife and he can interchange their foot wear.  The poem opens with:  Thankfully, my feet are small or hers are large….  The narrator observes that his wife looks like a British banker in my wingtips and he says I clean room after room in her flats.   The image of reversing roles is successfully captured in the trading back and forth with the seemingly genderless use of the shoes while their original gender intention is kept in tact.

When one looks at the poem, Wonderland on page seventeen, James explores the metaphor of Alice and the proverbial rabbit hole.  Within the seven- line one-stanza poem, the narrator of the poem suggests some rabbit holes are meant to be covered. If all is uncovered, the poem suggests it will be no more magic than the average garbage man out there collecting his stars.  The paradox of revealing kills the magic. In Grace Jones on page nineteen, a similar theme is presented. The poem says, Smile at all the secrets you wish to possess.

James takes presumed ideas such as the association with balloons and children to present a fresh perspective.  In his poem Frank the Balloon Man on page thirty-nine, Frank loves balloons but children, not so much.
.
                                Honestly, he hated children.  Hated their laughs and the miniature
                                gaps of their smiles. Hated the clutching need of their fingers.
.
What Frank loved, which begins the second stanza, was balloons.
.
                                What he loved were the balloons. The feel of each on his
                                 hands, on his fingers.  He loved the squeaks as he twisted
                                 shapes into intentions.
.
James has successfully presented a clear understanding of the old concept of judging a book by its cover. To see Frank with the balloons, one would assume the adult was working with them to please children.  The assumption here is proven false.

James accomplishes the views of what is and what is not through his many poems that perceive the world in a realistic way.  Why should Frank love children because he loved balloons?  Why can’t a husband raid his wife’s shoe closet?

On page sixty-three, That Last Ferryman, suggests the boat ride on the river of forgetfulness.  He begins the poem:
.
                                  The Ferryman’s patience is as endless as his river.
.
After the narrator states the rules of the ferry, he ends the poem:
.
                                   And you certainly must not look back and wave at those disappearing
                                   on the shore while shouting, “See you soon!”
.
The narrator has a suggested image of crossing from one life plane to another and what it is like in a way most readers can visualize and appreciate. James successfully presents poems in a clear direct form that encourages the reader to contemplate the subtleties that lie beneath the images.  The book is a good read and worthy of reading more than once.
.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Jumping-Drawbridges-Technicolor-Mike-James/dp/0578465817

.

Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review, Bindweed Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, That Literary Review, The Remembered Arts Journal, and other literary magazines.

.