This lively poetry collection conveys the human condition in its lonely and triumphant moments.
In Fox Wasser’s posthumous debut compilation, a frazzled mother successfully manages a rainy day at home with her kids, a genie intrudes on reality, and a billboard lures shoppers. Her poems, spilling over with autobiographical details and mythological and biblical allusions, tell an understated story of an earnest, messy journey through life. These sympathetic, occasionally cynical, verses always circle back to the fragility of life, the sacredness of family, and the necessity of self-reliance; as “Oasis” concludes, “And when there is no one to warm me / from the cold, I seek my own fire.” The poems become increasingly philosophical, pondering the politics of ownership and the duality of the human soul. Some insights are lackluster, as in “Seesaw”: “Therefore, are war and peace truly compatible?” However, the author’s lyrical voice and sense of humor carry the poem “Fifteen Cents a Line”: “Come on, baby, fifteen cents a line. / The pulp juice and essence, / from the grape to the wine.” “Kaleidoscope,” the most visual piece, features standout lines with evocative imagery: “Hot yellow turns / searing me / as blue splashes / over my burns.” Often, the rhyme schemes are too simplistic, making the poems fall flat or appear trite; for example, “The Single Parent (Made in Heaven)” describes single parenthood as “a mockery” and rhymes it with “a crockery.” Poems such as “Cinderella Through the Looking Glass” describe ideas with unnecessarily complicated metaphors: “Laughter, the camouflage of tears, / assuages the missing caress // as the anonymity of the horde / hides my loneliness.” These tendencies ultimately detract from the fluidity of the poems and obscure their meaning. The best poems are the shorter, simpler ones, such as “Mirage,” which convey a depth of emotion and genuine pieces of wisdom: “I am forever fooled / by fire and light / … / Looking to the / heavens for love / and losing the earth.”
A kinetic, if sometimes-overwrought, book of poems.