Sunday, April 22, 2012

Unguarded Crossing by Bob Brooks

Unguarded Crossing

Bob Brooks

Antrim House


Review by Rene Schwiesow

“Unguarded Crossing” is Brooks’ first full-length collection of poetry. However Brooks is no stranger to the written word or to publishing his work. From the nineties on, Brooks’ work has appeared in magazines such as “The Beloit Poetry Journal, “Mudfish Poetry,” “Poetry Northwest,” “Prairie Schooner,” and many others. He has also been published in three previous chapbooks: “Still in Here Someplace” by Pudding House Publications; “A Story Anyone Could Stick To” through Finishing Line Press; and “Three-season Views” also through Finishing Line Press.

Brooks began his post-Harvard life as an army translator, followed by a long-term career as an editor at a computer systems company before entering the writing/publishing arena. “Unguarded Crossing” has received praise from fellow poets, including Massachusetts born Susan Donnelly: “The poetry of Bob Brooks is both startling and inviting. . .”

After perusing Brooks’ Prologue poems and grinning over “One Reason,” a work that gives us an inkling as to why cats may not write poetry, I tumbled into section II, Closed Circle, to be met with one of my favorite sensory experiences, chocolate, in “Her Body Delectable.”

Like chocolate –

it’s so delicious,

I envy it.

My mind made the leap in those opening lines to Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric:” “This is the female form,/a divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot.” What else is chocolate if not divine? Brooks continues to play on the sensory later in the work with:

tongue to lips,

thinking, “These are her lips” or

“This is her tongue,”

and the delicious experience of licking chocolate from one’s lips like relishing the sweet taste of a lover brings a welcome sigh.

Brooks addresses many human themes. Taking leave of sexuality we also find love, conflict, loss and addiction. He deftly compares addiction to the apple Eve offered Adam in “What I Can’t.”

do is, I

can’t pick up

that first drink.

That’s it. Like

what God said

to Adam:

“Of every

tree may you

freely eat

but this one. . .

And loss in “For the Memorial:”

. . .pulling apart

till only their fingers

touch at the tips

to show the sky

empty, and the dark


There are many more wonderful poetic experiences in “Unguarded Crossing,” making this book well worth experiencing.

Rene Schwiesow co-hosts the popular South Shore poetry venue, The Art of Words in Plymouth and currently writes a monthly column on the arts, which appears in The Old Colony Memorial.

1 comment:

  1. Denise Provost9:17 AM

    Lots of good stuff in this collection. One of my personal favorites is "Our Young Mr. Eliot," with its triple dry humor.