Sunday, June 14, 2015

A World Less Perfect For Dying In Ralph Pennel

A World Less Perfect For Dying In
Ralph Pennel
Cervena Barva Press
W. Somerville, MA
Copyright © 2015 by Ralph Pennel
ISBN: 978-0-9861111-7-4
Softbound, 66 pages, $17

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

My favorite thing about poetry is discovering a poet who has written a book of poems in which I get hooked the minute I read the first words, and better yet, I feel the same way at the end.  I know people who hate to reach the end of a novel because they have become a part of the book. 

Ralph Pennel has done something similar me with this book of poetry. I hated closing his debut volume as much as any book of poetry I have read.  That includes some pretty good company for him to join.

Most of the poems are a page long, some longer than a page.  One of the shorter ones is “FREE THIS POEM IT WANTS TO FLY”

You told me once about the day
your professor asked your class to write
 poem about milkweed then loosed
a pod full into the air, the window open,
the sun shining in, a new autumn breeze blowing.

Everyone in the room watched closely,
heads turned as white tufts passed by –
ghosts, like the spirits of loved ones
freed into the open air.

One see floated down into your hair.
Your professor walked by and lifted it out, held it up for you to
see. You each smiled. But not at each other.
To yourselves, thinking hard
about who you wanted most to be set free.

Here are a couple of short quotes from two other long poems.  The first is “WHAT WE’VE COME TO EXPECT FROM BEAUTY”

It is midnight. My apartment is quiet.
I can hear the cars rushing down Somerville Avenue,
my neighbor shedding her clothes to the floor –
the faint shuffle of feet, the scrape of a hanger.
And I think about her now.


From here, downtown is magnificent. Bold. Stark.
Bright, against the dull haze of cloud cover. Light
fits so easily into so many different places:
in the office windows across the river, in the face of the moon,
in the puddles that still dot the earth after this afternoon’s rain.
Even in these bricks in the street, as if placed her like seeds.

This is a book of poetry I will cherish because I will want to read the beauty of Ralph Pennel’s words over and over.  His poetry is a winner and Cervena Barva Press is a winner for bringing it to lovers of poetry.

Zvi A. Sesling

Reviewer for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene
Author, King of the Jungle (Ibbetson St., 2010) and  Across Stones of Bad Dreams 
(Cervena Barva, 2011)
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Publisher, Muddy River Books
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthologies 7& 8

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