I had to choose between you
slowly becoming the world
or the wide world beyond you.
Then, you jumped off that bridge
with me begging you not to.
I couldn’t force you to choose solid
ground and cared too much to watch you drown.
I returned to the world before
there was nothing left in it for me
and waited with the certainty that
we will meet again on safer shore.
I look for you, lost in the carnival. Children run over popcorn-covered dirt floor and swing sticky, cotton candy hands as adult bodies push down and disregard. The carousel spins. Painted horses and unicorns move, cream, red, and white with no end in sight. A throng of clowns try to engage and elicit laughs before they move on. The carnival crowd, all of them, always the same.
Sometimes, you’re part of that crowd but radiant when you come into your own. I miss the adjoining, expansive field and shining constellation sky, searching endlessly for your smile.
I find you on the outskirts, standing in front of a porch and see a stranger kissing you and holding you as if everything about you is already known. Did you like the kiss? If so, you’re both lost and found.
Now, I face a fun-house mirror. Half of me also looks lost, the other half distorted. Unable to recognize myself, I’m forced to leave without explaining how hard it was to find you.
Life is nothing more than a burst of energy that flickers and then ends more quickly than the human mind can comprehend, so writers race against the demise of everything around them and take on the mission to try to preserve what surrounds them. Writing is an act of conservation before oblivion.
I write with the realization that the movement of my life will progress so quickly that I’ll not even be able keep a single atom of reality indefinitely. I am just one, but numerically, I can’t even be counted as one tick in the clock counting the totality of time. My body continues on the predictable path for which it was programmed, self-destruction. Like all else that is mortal, I will be gone without breath, words, or even a trace of sound.
Logic dictates that everyone I have ever loved is also finite. Living now, I grasp at memories of those treasured, trying to save them in some way. Writing enables me to spell out, to the best of my ability, the context that a photograph cannot capture. I hope earnestly that years from now, others might find my words and know what it was like, for me, to be part of the living world. Just as I am able to sit in wonder while reading about the history and life of those gone long ago, I write in the hopes that someone might read what I have written and learn something of who I was and who I loved, and in this possibility, there is some sense and reprieve in what was always meant to be a losing battle.
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.
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
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.
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
How much pressure can a spouse’s loyalty and fidelity withstand? How seriously do individuals take their vows of marriage? How many times can someone help another human being who is clearly lost and has no compass? The answer to these are explored in T. Nicole Cirone’s beautifully written novel, Nine Nails.
In the beginning of the book, things are going great for Nicole – she has a rewarding career as a teacher and has loving and close relationships with her family, including with her twelve-year old daughter. Her parents live right next door. Nicole finds love in a charming, handsome, and successful man who was once a childhood friend. The couple marries, and everything is perfect.
Though not obvious at first, a troubling pattern emerges. Nicole’s husband has episodes where depressing and destructive feelings overwhelm him. Sometimes, he locks himself in his room. He spends a lot of time at bars. He becomes abusive and calls his wife names. According to him, Nicole is the cause of his unexpected behavior, and she cannot do anything right. On the other hand, he can’t do anything wrong. Though another woman may have already ended the relationship by this point, Nicole continues to keep her marriage vows in the forefront of her mind, trying to help her spouse through addiction and turmoil. Her love for her husband abides through every imaginable test and speaks to something that is difficult to find, a fixed heart that continues to be able to withstand anything and everything to preserve the possibility of what could be. Will Nicole’s husband be able to change and keep Nicole’s love, or is the marriage doomed to fail?
Nine Nails is gripping and the author’s skilled use of pacing will keep the reader turning pages to find out what happens next. Cirone places us perfectly in scene with vivid descriptions of time and place. Her use of language is equally masterful as word choices are both meaningful and exquisite. The combination of language and craft details are sure to make Nine Nails a favorite book for readers as well as writers. Nine Nails rises to the level of great literature, transcending time and person and focusing on universal themes regarding human love and loss. It is also a cautionary tale from which much can be learned. Nine Nails is definitely a must-read.
Nine Nails is published by Serving House Books and is available on Amazon.com.