Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Red Buddha Maia Penfold

The Red Buddha
Maia Penfold
Hocolm Press
ISBN 987-0-9776783-3-4
2010   $15.00

“it leaps out
that afternoon
in saskatchewan in the brilliant sun
pedaling my bicycle over the crunch
of gravel road
the world was all around me
and i was in it i was entirely in it
and then a car approached slowing down
a man and a woman their arms out the windows
waving wildly they yelled the war is over
the war is over
they never stopped
i was stunned
to hear it...”

Penford places herself, like a cypress tree, in the middle
of a field. Each poem spot-lights her humor and the need
to poetize her view. In the poem above, “having reached
three score and ten,” the poet, Maia, takes us where we have
already been and continue to be, on a path, under the sky,
where cars approach and war is over. Where the dead names
remain engraved in stone and the world continues to battle-

“mass murder in yugoslavia in east timor
in africa killing in ireland in palestine and
the children killing children

we've landed on the moon we've got e-mails
you and I can readily fly to hong kong
or new york the world has changed
it's so much smaller than it was
when I was ten...”

This poem is about sadness, about the reality of living a long life.
The book relates in minute details, people and place, “all the men
I know have slivers in their hearts,” and the poet is able to show
us, the political stance people take, by just sitting on a chair on a porch.

“...this tiny planet looks so peaceful
so beautiful from outer space...”

Penfold is a master of her craft, the poems' revisions help
the reader to sit easy with each word, each verse flows
into us like a summer mountain stream.

“ nothing much has changed
women’s magazines continue to put
good and gooey dark chocolate cake on the cover
right next to the promise you can lose ten pounds
in time for bathing suit weather with the added
promise to reveal bedroom secrets to please
your man and how to prepare the perfect
lattice top blueberry pie how to inflame
his desire with the right perfume the right
bustier how to tempt him luscious desserts
it's still so much all about him...”

The poems unfold like a novel, a life grown straight-up
out of the rich soil of seeing and relating what the poet
experiences. There are small truths that lead to the big picture.

“i take out our maps and
I show him look I say
crow flying it's twelve miles
straight across but for us it's two
hundred miles do you realize that?
It's a two hundred mile drive through the
desert we have to loop around this
way he smiles at me he knows I can't
say no this time he smiles his smile
of sweet victory

the next day
we are driving by dome-shaped dirt-colored
hogans in the desert
we are driving through the kaibab
plateau of utah and it does look
like canada”

The Red Buddha, re-enters us into the world of poetry by being
there at the exact moment the sentence turns before the reader
realizes there is a pause but there is no pause no capital letters
there is only the promise of a poem and that is enough
for us to continue to read these wonderful poems

irene koronas
reviewer: Ibettson Street Press
poetry editor: Wilderness House Literary Review

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