Tuesday, September 03, 2013

My Beautiful Ballooning Heart Poems by Janice Silverman Rebibo

My Beautiful Ballooning Heart
Poems by
Janice Silverman Rebibo
Coolidge Corner Publishing
Brookline MA
Copyright © 2013 by Janice Silverman Rebibo
142 pages, softbound, $17.95

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

One of my favorite poets is Charles Simic and I have never read anyone quite like him until I opened Janice Silverman Rebibo’s My Beautiful Ballooning Heart. Whereas with Simic one does not always know if a specific poem is about him, someone else or fiction, with Rebibo’s work it is quite clear the poems are. And for added praise, let me add James Tate and Wyslawa Szymborska as references to her poetry. Many of the poems in the first section are about loves and lovers. The choice of names are interesting. First there is Rob, is this his real name of did he steal something of hers – years, valuables, what? The second is John. Saint or sex partner? There are also a Barry, Artis and Martin and a few others tossed in. The poems provide answers, though they may not have the same meaning for you they have for her. That is the wonderful mystery of her poetry.

On several pages there are “Four Poems for Old Lovers” starting with 1) Oh My Goodness There’s an Old Lover:

Oh my goodness! There’s an old lover
sitting under the trees
on those folding chairs I hate
at the Silky Way Café.
You know, the wooden ones with slats
that might collapse or at least tip over
ungracefully on the gravel
around the round tables
that aren’t too stable. Will I say hello?
Sit down and have “a coffee”
in the local lingo. It’s been a while.
Smile. The shadows under these trees
were always gentle. Temperamental
was the word I jotted down before
and Tenderly, by chance. His eyes.

Throughout her poetry Rebibo reveals an intriguing sense of humor about her various encounters. Check out 3) Lunch with the Last One, where even capital letters in the title reveal something:

When you stroked my arm
on the second floor of that big restaurant
it made me so angry.
We have a history
of good sex
of which I would rather not be reminded.
I am busy making a doormat of myself
right now
with another lover, also flawed, but not bad either.
You’ll have to let me alone
to let this run its course
and by the time I’ve ruined
this one too
by turning into mush
like that bagel-toast we split – too much cheese
we’ll all be old
and even Viagra won’t help.

This poem along with the others tells us all we will ever want to know about the poet, her past, things she experiences, reads and partakes of. Past and present meet on the pages in ways few other poets have been able to express. But do not mistake these for magical poems, they are not. These poems are about the real – good, bad, obsessive, and despite the author’s claim to have forgotten, these prove nothing has been forgotten.

There are moments in which the reader gets a quick lesson in life:

How to Ask for What You Want

How about a bowl of soup
Could it be that simple, this
sacramental moment
an offering
rain of fire
not by accident
And you may receive

There is also the poem I wish had ended the book called After This Mysterious Moment with You

Even after this mysterious
Everlasting moment
here with you
when I
Cast off this or that convention
Exalt sporadic gestures of my brain
I remain the daughter of my parents
friend of my lovers
friend of my friends

You will see the final poem, nonetheless is also an appropriate finish, and when you finish this book you will feel awe for the person who wrote it because she has laid her beautiful ballooning heart before you.


Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene
Publisher, Muddy River Books
Author, King of the Jungle (Ibbetson Street Press, 2010)
Author, Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva, 2011)
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 8

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