Thursday, June 26, 2008
by Holly Guran
Poets Corner Press
ISBN 978-0-9798594-1-0 $12.00
review by Steve Glines
Each of us is a collection of stories, poems and portraits. Our lives alternate between being utterly dull and being the source of the most profound inspiration. It’s the use of language that makes the ordinary, extraordinary and the mundane, profound.
The rapper Eminem drew thoughtful inspiration from a less than ordinary industrial slum south of a road called eight mile in Detroit Michigan. He wrote and sang about it in the movie by that name. The movie made eight mile road intriguing and when I was in Detroit I carefully drove down this great divide drawing my own inspiration. To the north are the tony sanitized suburbs of middle class utopia where life mimics the art of Barbie and Ken. No bugs here. To the south are the leftovers. To Eminem, life began at eight mile road and progressed south. I understand. There passion where the Great Depression never left. There are rows upon rows of abandoned factories, abandoned houses, abandoned cars, abandoned lives. It is the detritus sloughed off the Great American Dream. It is inspiration by contrast and I don’t want to go there but I am compelled to look. I drive down dead end streets in my new shiny rental car, make mental notes and back out quickly.
River Tracks draws its inspiration from the mundane as well. Buttercups, wind, a rumbling train carrying commuters home, everyday life in a city, the suburbs and on the farm serve as a backdrop on which to tell a story:
They took jewelery, small things
you care about, never
touched the typewriter,
but touched the clothes
inside the drawers,
inside the closets.
The police, too busy to come,
took your report over the phone.
The landlord nailed a board over the hollow
where they knocked the window out. You spoke
of new locks. He fell silent like your apartment.
After you folded the scattered cloths
and laid them in the drawers,
after you put your son to bed,
you opened the typewriter,
stared at the gleaming keys
and wed your fingers to their light.
The world does not always loom large. Life is not always as big as eight mile street.
Sometimes we need to look at the little things and draw small joys from whatever we find. River Tracks tells of the small stories that brighten and sadden a life. The largest among us sometimes need to be reminded that in the larger universe our lives are indeed very small. It’s a quick and pleasant read.