Hard-Edged and Childlike
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Hard-Edged and Childlike
… a shouting culture…
I work in a medium of whispers,
though the voice in my head, which rises
from my heart like a column of volcanic fire,
cries out with the cry of a newborn.
Passing it, not through an amped mike
and multiple dumb loudspeakers,
but my quiet mind, I modulate it
through many modes of sound and sense.
I put it out in the room, to be received
by people using their minds to reach their hearts.
I believe, under the raised noise, whispers
can be heard, like dolphins’ signals in water.
Stretching far into October this year –
dahlias blooming in the luxurious, shirt-sleeve air –
Indian summer plays the delightful deceiver.
Insouciant, a charmer, its treachery foreknown,
it is a false, or at least fickle, friend,
ready, at any moment, without scruple, to flee
and throw us over to winter.
But it is as welcome as a young girl
breezing into a retirement home –
welcome to the old men and women
facing their own winters.
Welcome to the men as faint stirrings of desire,
to the women as dahlias in their hair.
Welcome every minute she wants to stay.
Song of War
There is war in our future
hell, there is war in our present
continuous war, year after year war
fighting on other people’s shore
and on our own
There is war in our lore
world war, great war, Mexican, Indian
radio, video, movies, porno of gore
hardcore metaphors for war
oh yes, for us there is war in store
There is war brought from afar
and war we incubate, water, export
baby war, grown-up war, war on anybody
Irakis Iranians Yemenis You-namees
there is no bar to war
There is great rage among us
blind, hurt, fueled by panic rage
no money for jobs or wages
but never say we can’t afford war
rage hungering-for-enemies rage
But what’s all this squawk about war
got to do with poetry or art or song?
It isn’t personal except it is, massively personal
every man woman child killed maimed made mad
is a part of me the self-centered me
The me loving life
Praise for Hard-Edged and Childlike
“OMG. The poet somehow gets to the core of it all.”
“America’s poetry is hard-edged and childlike;
it is passion with critical intelligence –
it is poetry of the spirit.”
I’ve quoted the last three lines of the last poem in Llyn Clague’s latest book for a reason, because every word preceding them proves that final point. Brilliantly, he carefully constructs each memory and metaphor with heart and spirit. The results are sassy, sexy, sardonic, and sumptuous.
The poems here are intense and intimate as Clague contrasts ancient and modern sorrows – such as endless cycles of unimaginable poverty and greedy elitists – or casts a critical eye at war, politicians, hypocrites, and himself. For example: “God Resigns” is satirical humor at its best; “America and World Were One” is a sad, nostalgic view of life as it has become; and “The Checkout Girl” is a modern litany of struggle and determination.
Clague pulls no punches here. He poetically pokes and nags at politicians, rips and tears at human foibles large and small, and happily besmirches iconic idols of our day. While reading, my spirit alternately wept and laughed, raged and sighed in tandem with Clague’s. This is a modern commentary that poetry lovers will appreciate on many levels. Highly recommended.
-Review by Laurel Johnson, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review