Gustav chronicles a bitter divorce and eventual spiritual awakening in this debut poetry collection.
From the first verses in this book, the author fixates on the pain that his wife caused by leaving him. It may be difficult for readers to appreciate the poems’ bursts of anger as expressions of raw emotion, though, as they’re so incongruous with the simple rhymes and antiquated poetic structures: “Not enough she says as I am still not happy / Go make some more, so I can spend it as I hate feeling so crappy.” Although the poems paint the ex-wife as a materialistic liar, readers may find that their portrayal of the unfairness of the situation is overshadowed by a strong streak of misogyny in some verses. The poems sometimes refer to the ex-wife using vulgarities, as in “The Pig.” The poems’ reflections on family aren’t limited to marriage, however, as they also address other family members: “Yet my Mom feels it is her right to intervene / Play the game of the go between / For this I will not support, so it is time for you to leave.” Just when the poems seem to be on the verge of an existential breakthrough, talking about loftier notions of acceptance, sacrifice, or karma, their unwavering indignation gets in the way of expressing something more constructive. Some lines (“When looked at it with this viewpoint, is there a right or wrong? / Wronger’s are willing to acknowledge and accept / Righter’s are not quite there.....yet”) assert the author’s superiority while also touching on the relativity of fault at the end of a relationship. The poems also offer the author’s observations about his work, his longing for more time with his children, and his journey to Christianity. At times, the poems reveal the author’s eye for detail and talent for concise metaphors; he perfectly sums up his father’s anger, for example, describing it as “like blasts of hot air from a tuba.” By the end of the collection, he also writes, “you realize it is a contest of wills as you see both sides / Yet being one closer to God you must take HIS plane, love as he does.” If the collection had more of this calmer tone and less vitriol, it might have been more relatable and enjoyable.
Poems about pain and eventual recovery that may fail to evoke much sympathy.