Demolition in the Tropics by Rogan Kelly: A Review by Ayesha F. Hamid

Rogan Kelly’s Demolition in the Tropics is a magnificent read – Within the book’s pages, one finds a world of love, gratitude, and beauty. Kelly observes subjects closely and with care. Rich in unique associations and original descriptions, Kelly’s prose poems show us the beauty in the everyday. Whether he describes stopping in at a diner for breakfast or completing his tasks for a job, the poet successfully encapsulates worlds within paragraphs. Though he is good at describing everyday events, Kelly’s work is anything but mundane. His poems are complex and evocative, and a superficial read will not be sufficient to understand the depth of the work. Upon close examination, the reader understands that although Kelly may be describing what appears to be ordinary, he understands that everyday moments simultaneously contain a multitude of possibility as well as nothingness. While being fully immersed in the text, the reader learns to appreciate the beauty in Kelly’s poems, but with poignant turns, Kelly cautions against trying to possess what is ephemeral. 

Whether it is the wonder of a far away city like Alexandria, Egypt or the perfection of another person, Kelly examines the  subject matter in his poems with a reverence that often eludes contemporary art, reminding the reader of greats like Dante or Petrach. Reading Demolition in the Tropics teaches us that wonder, love, and beauty surround us at all times if we only take the time to observe. At the same time, we are reminded that change is the only constant, which is why we must appreciate every moment. As a poet and reader, I highly recommend Demolition in the Tropics. It is a great study in writing, poetry, as well as the specific form of prose poetry. Demolition in the Tropics is available now through Seven Kitchen’s Press.

“Violent Game” by Ayesha F. Hamid

Cursed earth, always at war,
a field for violence and pain.
The poor, dead and buried
in shrouds the same
as what was worn
for nights and days
with no choice for change.
No one for these deaths
ashamed, except the powerless
always expected to have shame.

The earth trembles for so many lives
that the heavens can’t partake,
yet humanity stands with its
unflinching gaze
as lives extinguish
coming to ground,
bodies black, white, and brown
all reddening the ground as they fall.

The good earth screams,
beware this treading over sacred lines
and of this doing with no shame,
leading to an irreversible idling of being
and the return to the
primitive part of the brain
which revels in violent games.

“Escape, 2020” by Ayesha F. Hamid

A woman scribbles with movement of her pen
is able to change what’s unpleasant
describes only water dripping below
birds singing above
a melody forcing her ear to pay homage
as she writes of sun rays lighting
earth with yellow, green, blue
all the while avoiding thoughts of the virus
raging outside or asking if pandemic
will bring humanity to its knees

“Saved from Summer” by Ayesha F. Hamid

She welcomed the end of summer’s oppression,
the pressure under, over, everywhere
having cooked her from within.

In summer, the sun weighed down
disheartening dreams,
while the wandering, distracted mind meandered
wished to be someplace else,
wished to be free
somewhere else
where she was listened to, was esteemed,
someplace else where she never had to fear
being suspect for being something less than ideal
a place she wanted to welcome on hot skin
like a perfectly cool breeze.