A New England poet shares his flair for spirited verse and comic doggerel.
The strength of Howard’s slim but artful collection lies in its diversity and rhythms. Inspired and unique, these works run the gamut from deep and stimulating to playful and frivolous. The author shines with poetry like â€œSpecial Day,” wherein the significance of May 14 marks a certain significance for a number of historical figures (and mothers everywhere, of course). A painfully precise â€œThanksgiving” considers those claustrophobic, overdone family gatherings with their dishes â€œpiled high and dirty with saliva from relatives you have not seen in almost a year.” Poems marking the plight of a klutzy Little Leaguer and a retiring mailman who delivers mostly circulars are particularly stirring. At his most affecting, Howard muses over the significance of best buddies (â€œEggy Friendship”) and the struggle to overcome shyness in the face of beauty (â€œSocietal Faux Pas From Afar”). Interspersed among the author’s literary work are stark, black-and-white photographs of cityscapes that are tailored to poems dedicated to the Big Apple, where people belong â€œonly if you still cling to a dream,” as in â€œAll of It Revolves Around This Placeâ€¦” A poem about death, â€œDenouement,” forms an artful reminder to â€œlive life to the fullest before IT comes.” The best of the short stories are â€œStained Horizon,” about a man’s nightmarish dreams affecting his unsettled future, and the prophetic tale â€œCompensable Windless Memory.” Humorous pieces include stanzas about the addictive qualities of a certain dessert (â€œI Scream”), reflections of an overly stern restaurant manager (â€œAre You Really Thatâ€¦?”), a list of clever bumper stickers, as well as the odd economy of simple blank pages featuring solitary punctuation or a lower-case letter. Though a good portion of Howard’s poems are too brief, many carry sage messages combined with a delicately balanced cadence, as in the succinct, profound â€œJaped (Or World-Shaking),” in which emotional pain is applied to basic scenarios.
Howard demonstrates a wide array of moods and personality in this enjoyable, eccentric collection.