LIKE A BRUISED APPLE by Michael Howard


A Collection of Poems and Short Fiction
Email this review


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 “Special 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 “Thanksgiving” considers those claustrophobic, overdone family gatherings with their dishes “piled 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 (“Eggy Friendship”) and the struggle to overcome shyness in the face of beauty (“Societal 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 “only if you still cling to a dream,” as in “All of It Revolves Around This Place…” A poem about death, “Denouement,” forms an artful reminder to “live life to the fullest before IT comes.” The best of the short stories are “Stained Horizon,” about a man’s nightmarish dreams affecting his unsettled future, and the prophetic tale “Compensable Windless Memory.” Humorous pieces include stanzas about the addictive qualities of a certain dessert (“I Scream”), reflections of an overly stern restaurant manager (“Are You Really That…?”), 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 “Japed (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.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-595-46669-6
Page count: 162pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: