Monday, December 27, 2010

Where Once by Sally Allen McNall

Where Once
Sally Allen McNall
Main Street Rag Publishing Co.
ISBN 978-1-59948-263-7
2010 $14.00

…"It is tender where I cannot go.
Baghdad, where once gardens.
A shore where once wild strawberries this small…"

McNall's poetry is a conversation with her readers. We are placed into
situations and places we might otherwise not be:

"…watch a child die of hunger.
Go onstage howling and high.
Collect enough debris and ice to reflect light. Then orbit.

Be the mountain mudhouse in the earthquake.
Descend the fallopian tube.
Be the forest canopy as it ignites."

The poems are reaffirmations of the poet, the poets fundamental stance,
placing McNall as the narrator who muses about her surroundings, her life,
her time and her images are images from any century, except the poet
lets us see in minute detail the this moment's effect:

…"In that first nest, first dark burrowing, you learned
to love because you had to, to survive. You knew this, then.
Now there are other questions of survival before you.
There is anger everywhere in the world and sorrow
following. Even the Buddha would not tell you to forget
this, while you are busy remembering the bobolink,
snow-cricket, brown bat, peony, honeysuckle."

Some of the poems are political because of the presence of this particular
time and particular war raging, one against another, again. In one poem,
"Goodbye to Byzantium" the poet reiterates the empires reign and conflicts
that ensure with any powers that be, fighting for land, ideology and how it
effects one human being, one plant, one place, one animal. McNall brings
it all into her poems. She is an accomplished write.

"…Please hold the ladder once again
whilei reach for something I want
for you, the weight not yet in my fingers.
Its ripeness will let it go easily into my hand."

Irene Koronas
Poetry Editor:
Wilderness House Literary Review

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