Saturday 5 October 2019

For My People - A Poetry Review

For our side the Arts can be a hostile place. However it is important that we support those Artists who support us and I use the term Artists in it's broadest term. Nathaniel Lucas is a Poet who has been published in Quadrant and in the sadly defunct site Social Matters. Recently he has published a collection of his poetry For My People which is available from Amazon.

I read through the poems and I liked a few, but when I went back to try and pick my favourites I found I had too many. I didn't like every poem, that's probably a bit much, I have to admit I didn't understand them all. The personal nature of them might be the issue here, but at the same time that is one of the great strengths. You get to experience a journey through the poets life and experiences.

Ernest God Poem

How do they manage a single second
of diminished life without you, provider
protector, enchanter of silences, scrivener
of footsteps, engraver of sleep and fire?

Swooping screens and screaming woofers
promising boundless love or vistas,
at least promising. I'll tell ya, I've never seen him,they say about you when mention

of you can't be put off. It's alright if it worksfor you but don't push it on me, they chuckle,
punching darts as if you aren't buckling
under the weight of every ribbon of smoke

pushing into their indulgent alveoli,
filling smoko with all the desire of the willings.
Don't need that no more, they say, merely,
with breath and life and seconds given freely.

The first two lines take you right into his journey, and maybe yours. Here is new knowledge, new belief and it must be shared, it's spilling out and cannot be hidden. The honesty of the experience really appeals to me.

The Tale of Boomer and Chen

Of all the sights in all the world beheld by men,
The saddest is the boomer with his third wife, Chen.
Why? (you ask) does not love, like hope, spring eternal?
How then do you say that this couple is so infernal?
True, boomers are men, with men's needs to meet
The boomer is not begrudged his unearned treat.
But in his manhood he is half-formed, concupiscent,
complacent, content to live on four house's rent.
To not die alone he obliterates the past, takes a third vow,
boasts of his tolerance and of being of the now.
To appease his Chen and assuage his silent fear
He pulls rank on managerial mates to bring her parent's here.
As he dies, he reassures his kids: I did all I wanted, no regrets.
My curved tv, my yacht, my Schnaaps, my yearly trip to St. Moritz...
His half-orphaned children listen to the will with Chen
and learn their land now belongs to foreign legal kin.
Their hope for help with debt, a proper holiday, or second child,
has passed to Chen, the ruthless and un-beguiled.
The boomer's children make a show of happiness,
and call their infant home on birthdays and Christmas
But Chen is too engrossed in forms, processing fees,
residency requirements and taxes to shoot the breeze.
My sadness and my lesson should now be clear,
Chen's new husband and their cousins are the new rentiers.
to pass on memes children need the same genes,
but property and shares follow different schemes.
So weep for the boomer and his third wife Chen,
it is the saddest sight now known to men.
Now that is powerful stuff!

Sometimes it is the beauty that jumps out of the poem, while I like this entire poem this stanza has a real strength to it.

Prayer for Reality

Had someone else heard my prayers I would have died of shame,
but only you heard them,
             then answered them.

This ending also appealed to me, so Australian

All Factories Close

Advance, advance! The fusilier's
V-day ditties fall on digital
enviro-cities. Mate, give it a rest
we don't mind you taking the piss
but open a froth and enjoy,
Australian-style: nihilism
without the abyss.
So true. I enjoyed this collection with only two minor criticisms. Firstly it seemed to me that some of the poems just end without a reason. I find this is something I have trouble with in my writing sometimes, so maybe I notice it more. Secondly why is the glossary in the back of the book? I know, I know must books have the glossary in the back, but it makes much more sense to put it in after the content page.

As I said at the start I had a hard time choosing two poems to illustrate the collection. So just for completeness I'll list some others I enjoyed.

What you don't hear in Berkeley
Civics, after death
Sweet Sixteen
Getting rich on the interest from five grand
A prayer for reality
The Australian high Medieval synthesis
Ekphrasis on a possible joke (Church-going)
Art as religion
Nathaniel Lucas
Life goes on

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