Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Custom House by Dennis Daly

The Custom House
© 2012 Dennis Daly
Ibbetson Street Press
Somerville MA
ISBN  978-0-9846614-1-1
Sofbound, $12.95, 105 pages

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Dennis Daly has been there, done that and the poetry in Custom House takes you there: ancient foreign lands you have dreamed about, places of the heart where we all want to be and the love-hate relationship with work place. Daly is a master artist painting portraits of places and people, telling stories and in the end revealing himself as a sensitive soul whose poetry we will not only enjoy, but ultimately associate with and let enter our hearts.

That is what I wrote for a blurb of Dennis Daly’s book of poetry and a second reading has not changed my opinion. In fact, it may have reinforced my feelings about his poetic prowess.  This is a book one can thoroughly enjoy for the images they conjure, for the imagination they ignite.

Take for example the title poem which could be a movie scene, but is poetry that brings you to the moment of action:

Another age: our greed-governed ancestors
Venture forth, significant super cargoes
Compelling the twins: speed and economy
They bounded oceans

We watch for their return with telescope
Of brass: pennants streaming, hull stowed with teas
And silks.  We dream them into our harbors.

Long doldrumed – their ships in need of repair:
Sails split and rotting, spars sprung.

There is also The Dogs of Mazar-I-Sharif where you are taken to a place where past and present converge in a picture of present into modern horror in the last two stanzas:

…They ordered blood-barbarity

Against Mongol Hazareas. The outrage began
As door to door they slaughtered them where they stood,
Dragging them into the street like firewood
and there they remained by decree. No Afghan
Could touch the on pain of execution.
The starved city-dogs came out and feasted.
The howling that I’d heard was the cry of those cheated
Animals, recalling their lost fortune

In The Violinist shows musical insight and how music plays on the heart:

The action of our hearts
In your instrument’s fire,
Sounding in soulful parts
Celestial: a string choir

The examples exhibit just a bit of Daly’s depth and breadth of observation, imagination and poetic reportage.  His book is well worth a read, but be warned,
reading between the lines or rereading lines or stanzas yields even more satisfaction.  Highly recommended.

Zvi A. Sesling
Author, King of the Jungle and  Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7

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