Monday, December 26, 2011

Fast and Soon: Poems, Drawings, and Stories By Bryan Bingham , Danielle Laura Blumstein, Emily Blumstein, Richard P. Keeshan , J. “Max,” Ruschak

Fast and Soon: Poems, Drawings, and Stories

By Bryan Bingham

Danielle Laura Blumstein

Emily Blumstein

Richard P. Keeshan

J. “Max” Ruschak

packhyderm press


Review by Dennis Daly

A disembodied arm and hand, seemingly attached to an oddly perched hat, reached across a table at the Au Bon Pain in Somerville Mass and handed me a thin red chapbook by five authors and artists entitled Fast and Soon: Poems, Drawings, and Stories. I must have looked dubious because the hand momentarily withdrew the booklet—a tease?—before proffering it again.

I grabbed it, caressed it, and read through it carefully. Many years ago I was included in a chapbook published by a local university with two other poets. We each contributed ten poems. The other two poets were much better than I. My pieces were especially raw and in some cases immature. Five out of the ten I now dislike. That experience colors my readings of younger writer and poet groups for good or ill. That said, sifting out the coarse sand, you can occasionally find a gold nugget or two.

So coming across Danielle Laura Blumstein’s well-wrought poem, Crossing Lake Pontchartrain, delighted me more than a little. The poem is a sharp metaphor. A bridge connects the outside world to the poet’s internal life. The internal life is threatened by devastation. A hurricane perhaps.

In the center, you could believe

the world was no longer standing

and the bridge was taking you

into the truth of your life,

or the devastation of your home and family.

In this same poem there are two elegant and interesting images. The first one describes the bridge,

The bridge is slung on the lake

spun and stretched like a thread of molten sugar.

Then the poem nicely reverses the image,

The lake is slung on the bridge

spun and stretched like a thread of molten glass.

A few pages further on the reader will find a short story by Richard P Keeshan, called Champagne. The characterization here could be from an O. Henry collection; it is that good. It pairs up dental work and life into an unusual dance. In the early going there is this scene:

…”You, my friend, have not been taking care of your teeth.”

He liked the way she said the word friend. He imagined them as neighbors, borrowing salt and pepper and detergents from one another. Sharing recipes and wishing each other a good morning as they passed on their way to their respective jobs. Friends. Just like she said. She reprimanded him on proper dental care and how bad teeth can lead to heart attacks and bad breath and practically the whole world coming undone.

The writer goes on to portray lost love and life’s apathy. It has a harsh undercurrent, but at the end I got up and walked away thinking about people and smiling.

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