Thursday, April 29, 2021

Ash by Gloria Mindock



by Gloria Mindock

Copyright © 2021 Gloria Mindock

Glass Lyre Press

Glenview, IL

ISBN 978-1-941783-75-7

Softbound, 69 pages, $16

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Life can be extremely dark for many people. For Gloria Mindock that darkness is expressed in her wonderful poetry. Her previous books include I Wish Francisco Franco Would Love Me, Whiteness of Bone, Nothing Divine Here and Blood Soaked Dresses, each with its own degree of the dark side that readers of her poetry expect and respect.

In Ash, her latest volume of dark poetry Mindock exceeds expectations. Beginning the book are four prose poems which make me laugh, though most readers might not find the initial offerings as humorous as I do.

So what is ash? Ash is the remains after a fire and a metaphor for the disintegration, wearing away that occurs in relationships. This is the theme of Mindock’s poems and a reader may suspect that her writing in this volume recalls a husband or husbands, a lover or lovers or perhaps friends.

In “Protected” we meet an anonymous man whose life is reduced to ash:

Inside his house was his life,

protected by a roof.

By the time the firemen got there,

it was gone.

He sifts through what remains,

eyes sunk, hands asleep,

brain idle for hours.

The man surfaces his heart.

He carries it away deliberately.

It still beats, and he breathes asking.

how much sorrow can this heart take?

There is never an answer.

In “Bitten” there a revelation telling readers more about a relationship in which the the other person is the loser.:

I was bitten by your heart, injured and

burnt by the flame.

The crackling was so loud, it hurt my ears.

Did I listen to my own voice which was clear?

No. I should have taken it seriously.

Everywhere I went in the house were his clothes,

his books, his life, which I let dust collect on.

Things got smokier, battling the embers with

false waters.

It did not work.

Tomorrow we find each other’s breath

faithfully flowing in the wind.

Gloria Mindock’s poetry is filled with angst, anguish, heartbreak and fright. For example in “Exit” she writes “I hide from you in ways/you’ll never know.” Or in “Carrots” the first stanza reads, “There is blood on my hands/from the knife./It was an accident I said as I/sliced the carrots into tiny roundness.” What happens next is the expected loss of appetite. But this is really about a relationship in which the knife, the carrot and the blood symbolize the negative aspects of two people fighting, the aggressive one and the passive aggressive partner.

In the poem “I Don’t Think of You” we see the discarding of a relationship compared to a lawn that has not been tended and has grown brown and ugly. It is a metaphor for the people or events Mindock experienced over time.

I don’t think of you,

not even in my dreams.

There is no existence between

your heart and mine.

Your heart I carved up

in the thick air.

Pieces rain down on the lawn.

Dead with no color, not keeping the yard beautiful,

Just something that blends in

over time.

Knives are important in this volume of poetry. They are used as the symbolic severing of association with others who become the ash of a relationship that was doomed to end and left smoldering.

The book is a losing battle of intimacy. Mindock’s imagery is extraordinary, showing he depth of her understanding of human suffering. The stark scenes of falling apart or destruction of love is written in a memorable voice which is ultimately brave despite the wounds and pain suffered in relationships that were never meant to be.

Gloria Mindock’s Ash is a must read for those who enjoy poetry on the edge or verse that rings with the futility of failed love.

Ash is written by the former Poet Laureate of Somerville, MA, in 2017 and 2018. She was awarded the 5th and 40th Moon Prize from Writing in a Woman’s Voice for her poems “Adventure” and “Listen” which are in her book Whiteness of Bone. Mindock was awarded the Ibbetson Street Press Lifetime Achievement Award and was the recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Award for Community Service by the Newton Writing an Publishing Center. She has been a visiting artist at Tufts Experimental College, Northeastern University, Endicott College and Bunker Hill Community College.

This is an extraordinary book by a wonderful poet whose words have brought much to the understanding of the dark side of human nature. Readers of Mindock’s poetry will become enthralled with this first-class poet.


Zvi A. Sesling

Poet Laureate, Brookline, MA 2017-2020

Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review

Author, War Zones (Nixes Mate Books)

The Lynching Of Leo Frank (Big Table Publishing)

1 comment:

  1. Smoldering poems into a coupling of nature and the nature of emotions.
    Great review.