Books by Carole Simmons Oles

SYMPATHETIC SYSTEMS by Carole Simmons Oles
Released: July 20, 2000

"A strong and compassionate collection."
Oles focuses here on memories of childhood and family. More in the narrative than the lyrical tradition, her language is sharp and her vision clear and often moving. In "Father's Fall," she recounts the experience of going to the hospital with her mother after her father has had an accident: "The police say he rolled / down the subway stairs. Blood / nests in his head like bad birds. / Upstairs they cut out the crows. / How could my daredevil father, / washer of Empire State windows, / 91st floor, fall down 22 steps?" Similarly piercing is the memory of an accident her mother has: "When Rose Damiano slammed / the door to Apartment 2A / on my mother's finger / she gave only a gasp / I watched the fairytale red / paint the porcelain tiles." In "Rape Counseling, the 60s," she relates the aftereffects of being raped as a college student: "I spent the rest of the year / meeting minds with George Herbert: / trusting men metaphysical, dead." Other than this, Oles writes nothing of the men (lovers or husbands) in her life, although her motherly love for her "runaway" daughter is tenderly expressed. In a collection that takes so much of its inspiration from personal family matters, one of the most powerful poems, "Sleeping Daughter," imagines the persona of a young woman who lapsed into a weeklong sleep as a result of trauma—a story originally found in the 1899 records for the state of Wisconsin and later included in Wisconsin Death Trip.Read full book review >