Thursday, September 06, 2012

War All The Time John Bennett

War All The Time
John Bennett
Vagabond Press
605 E. 5th Avenue
Ellensburg, WA  98926

Review by Rene Schwiesow

In a 2011 interview, David Hoenigman, described John Bennett in this way:  “. . .John Bennett has always stood up for what's right and wrong in us, this country, the world. Big heart. Loud voice. Immense mission—to get it all down. For you to see what he sees. Like it or not. Think about it.”  In “Contact is How We Know We’re alive” Bennett punches it home.  And though “War All the Time” (part of a trilogy that includes “The Theory of Creation and “The Birth of Road Rage”) is copyrighted 2005, the words ring as true today:

Rugby, football and war.  Freeway carnage,
beaten wives, drunk drivers.  Elementary –
school shootouts, industry gone berserk in the
Congo – contact is how we know we’re alive.

Peace is for pansies.  Give us drill teams and frat
houses.  Sumo wrestlers, drive-bys and Mike
Tyson.  Bite the ears off of Jesus, cop a plea.  Talk
shows where we give vent to our grievance.

The face in the mirror turns its back.  We
shatter into a lifetime of bad luck.

Yeah.  “The truth,” Bennett says in “Drugs & Wars,” “claws at our backs like a woman in the throes of a climax” and then, “Historians dip their quills into blood” (“Flat-Line Reptilian Brains”).

You get the point, Bennett doesn’t wrap the ugly up in a bow.

Throughout the work he alludes to great writers, texts and individuals and each time the allusions jump from the page and grab you in the intellect, ask you to consider or re-consider the original thoughts.  For example, “Every child is Moses in a basket made of reeds that we bulldoze to make room for urban sprawl.”

He ends a work entitled “Pax Americana” with:

Are we having fun yet?  Good.  Now raise that
flag and snap to.  Mass graves full of children.
Tall buildings in rubble.  Genocide with a smiley
face.  You get the picture.

Myths to live by.

The hero’s journey.

It’s likely that Joseph Campbell did not have the above in mind when he told us to “follow your bliss.” 

Two last thoughts, read the book for the rest:

On a 10:00 am Sunday morning, church bells ring
whole families out into their cars, and just
outside the atmosphere, a huge bat circles the
earth, casting a shadow that covers whole
continents.  We call it stormy weather and
build solariums in the rain.  Giant buildings
come crashing down. . .

And we do not wish to pay attention, grasp the dire situation for ourselves, then for the children:

Our town.  Two kids sitting on a ledge, a boy
and a girl with white holes for eyes, untouched
by anything, kicking their feet in a world where
the clocks have stopped ticking, dreaming the
impossible dream, waiting for good things to

*****Rene Schwiesow is a poet/writer/reviewer/editor and co-host of the wildly popular South Shore venue, The Art of Words, in Plymouth, MA.

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