Monday, March 21, 2011
The Mojave Road And Other Journeys by Bruce Williams
Tebot Bach, Huntington Beach CA
Copyright © 2010 by Bruce Williams
Softbound, 67 pgs, $15
Review by Zvi A. Sesling
On my recent trip to San Diego I found myself in the chapel of
a Lutheran church in Pebble Beach where they hold a poetry reading
the second Sunday of each month.
On this particular day Bruce Williams was the featured reader. Standing
in front of a mosaic window of Jesus clad in elegant robes, Williams was
dressed in boots, baggy jeans, a T-shirt that had some printed writing, the
last word of which was evil and over that a brown leather vest.
Williams is probably in his 60s, short, bald with some gray hair and a gray beard and moustache. When he reads he rhythmically bend forward like an Orthodox Jew and recites what is on the printed page in a strong clear voice. It is the voice that you will also find in his book: clear and strong. It is also personal, reflecting on his prostate cancer, his wife’s illness and death, and nature.
In Williams’ poetry, nature is intertwined with life and death and his beloved jeep is the vehicle for his journey through life and nature. The mountains, the desert are metaphors for the rocky road of his experiences – and for his spiritual reawakening.
After his wife is cremated Williams poem AFTER HE BRINGS HER ASHES HOME
gathers his frail emotions in seven lines:
on the mantle,
her cedar box.
In another poem he recalls his childhood and how the simple became complicated:
I loved Kit Carson
when I was a boy
because he was small
before I knew
of burning fruit
heard of Canyon de Chelly-
when the Navajo were the rugs
on Grandfather’s floor,
the silver on his hand.
All in all I was fascinated by Williams’ journeys, his metaphors,
his sensitivity, his self-insight and most of all his confrontation
with the death of others and his own mortality.
Williams is close to nature as he was (and still is) to his wife, and
growing up in Colorado has given him a perspective of nature not
unlike other poets, yet with more human meaning.
Having said all this, this book is Willliams’ first full length book of
poetry, following four chapbooks.
The owner of two jeeps he tries to explore the desert at every opportunity
and readers should explore his 42 poems (and the end notes) at every chance.
They confront optimism, fear, love (and what comes after love). Highly recommended.