Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Number 5 Is Always Suspect by Bob Heman and Cindy Hochman

The Number 5 Is Always Suspect
by Bob Heman & Cindy Hochman
2019 Bob Heman & Cindy Hochman
Presa Press
Rockford, MI
Softbound, 24 pages, $8
Review by Zvi A. Sesling

This book contains twenty-four sonnets by Bob Heman and Cindy Hochman. Heman was the editor of CLWN WR (formerly Clown War) and is known for his collages that have appeared in a number of poetry magazines. He was also the artist-in-residence at the Brooklyn Museum. Heman is poet who has published in numerous magazines and authored several poetry collections. Hochman is renowned as an editor of fiction and poetry as head of “100 Proof” Copyediting Services. For those who submit poetry or read it online she serves as editor-in-chief of First Literary Review–East. Additionally, she has done book reviews for a number of publications and is on the book review staff of Pedestal. Hochman is the author of three chapbooks.

When two fine poets get together in a collaboration one might think the final results would be a tug of war. But the opposite is true. One of them write a line, then the other writes so that each line is alternated between the two. The results contain humor, sometimes dark as in Poem 2.
he arrived at that place where the foghorns don’t blow

where the rocks are deeper than the sea
you can hear the sirens’ delusory call
as real as real as the horizon’s lure
but what is real in these shipwrecked days?
only the words that trickle through us
as the captain steers in blind avigation
toward the port where the sentence ends
punctuated by ballast to batten the hatches
and let the sea crawl slowly away
like rats onboard with stowaway faces
making their own siren calls
as the vessel veers north on its unsteady course
toward a horizon suddenly far too real

This poem shows how two people in their own homes emailing lines back and forth in a set order can create a poem with a touch of humor and with an unexpected dark ending. Even though the poems in this chapbook are experimental, the quality of each poem is extraordinary as if one poet alone had written experimental lines to be published.

Thirteen is supposed to bring bad luck but Poem 13 shows the humor two people can put together:

A priest, a rabbi, and a bear walk into a bar
“Are there any stars in this story?”
No, Just some whiskey with a beer chaser.
“Is the priest a rabbit?”
No. He’s a lapsed cabbage.
“Are his sermons part of the story?”
No sermons, just poetry readings and fairytales.
“Is the bear allowed to have a meaningful role?”
Indeed! No fairytale is complete without a bear.
“What about the rabbi? Will we see him again?” Oy. The rabbi is trying to find his missing “t.”
“So then he really does believe that he’s the rabbit?”
And oh dear, he’s late, he’s late.
“Is that where the story ends?”

One cannot tell who wrote which line when reading these poems. This makes the poems enjoyable. Who thought of the rabbi being a rabbit? Does it matter? The poem unleashes some absurdist humor reminiscent of some of the jokes traversing over time. It shows that two people can be in sync to write a humorous poem.

While Bob Heman and Cindy Hochman are not married to each other, their poetry engagement has produced a poetic child, a chapbook of twenty-four sonnets, each of which is a collaboration of seven lines each. To accomplish this successfully the two poets are in tune with each other when writing these verses.

Having tried a similar collaboration with a friend years ago, I found the results immature and silly. With Hochman and Heman there is a touch of the silly, but the poems are absolutely worth the read. This chapbook a worthy addition to any collection.

No comments:

Post a Comment