Sunday, November 29, 2009

Review of DEATH OF TEATICKET HARDWARE by Alice Kociemba

Review of DEATH OF TEATICKET HARDWARE by Alice Kociemba of Falmouth, Massachusetts, 44 pages, no price listed, produced by New Wave Printing and Design, Inc., 2009 ( $10)

By Barbara Bialick, author of “Time Leaves” (Ibbetson Street Press)

Alice Kociemba, who is a poet and a psychotherapist, has created a bittersweet memoir collection that has intriguing symbolism and good nature imagery the reader can enjoy deciphering. The title alone lends itself to scrutiny when you take apart the words—death, tea, ticket, hard and ware, wear, and where. The wear and where of the death are discovered in the cover poem by that name, which sadly reports that the old-fashioned, small-town hardware store that opened in 1918, and was run by “the kindest man in town” had its “soul…stolen by Wal-Mart in 2005.”

The notion of the troubled soul fits in with her poems about nuns, a priest, and mea culpas from her childhood in Jamaica Plain, Boston, but also of nature, especially in the wetlands of Cape Cod where she now lives.

Especially gripping is her poem “Birthday” where she reveals: “My mother told me every year/I was an inconvenient child./Born two days before Christmas/and a month too soon.” But “she was the one moved away/to the City, where there were/Criminals. And Catholics./And worse, she became one.” The family “wrapped” her in “holier than thou.”

“Inconvenient” gives her guilt and also a mixed message, for the day she was born was also to her mother, “the best Christmas I ever had--/thanks to you. I was waited on/
and didn’t have to lift a finger.”

Finally, the notion of life and death are stripped of religion and become draped in nature in poems such as “Wetlands in October: Ecstasy.” “The swamp earns its keep in autumn./Flame-tipped leaves spread/like thighs under a lover’s touch,/across a still body…/until the killing frost strips/trees grey as embers/to remind us of our dying…”

It’s not clear where you can get a copy, but her friends at the West Falmouth Library where she founded “Calliope”, a monthly poetry reading series can probably help. She also facilitates the Barnstable Unitarian Poetry Group and is a member of the Jamaica Pond Poets.

In her bio, it reads “When asked: ‘How did you get interested in poetry?’ Alice credits Emily Dickinson with saving her sanity following a severe head injury when she couldn’t read or drive or work for six months. She wrote her first poem ‘seizure’ shortly thereafter.”

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