A collection of poems explores nature, human relationships, and spirituality.
Composed of three sections, Hood’s (co-author: The Goffman Lectures, 2017, etc.) short volume of poems examines life through the lens of the outdoors, aging, community, and God. The first section, “Circumstances,” offers poems about nature and the outside world. The pieces range from the sublime—light streaming through a church’s stained glass during a ceremony—and scandalous (“Companion of the dogwood, / You glow iridescent / in your bare indecency / and warm spring sunlight”) to the mundane (a poem about obscene graffiti in public places). The second section, “Conundrums,” looks at interpersonal relations and aging. The first poem, “Fading to Blank,” presents the tragedy of a nursing home inhabitant who cannot remember why she is there and only desires to leave. Other poems track memories of working on a farm, including yearslong relationships with apple-picking customers. The second section delivers more political poems that ponder justice and the state of the United States. Some pieces lament the callousness and decadence of America while inequality flows: “Immigrants choosing to leave rather than be deported / Next to advertisements for Vacations in Jamaica and luxury cars.” The third section, “Commoners,” presents an assortment of pieces, some concentrating on characters in the poet’s life or ruminating on God and spirituality. The first section is the most cohesive in theme and the strongest in language, featuring transcendent moments: “Now the forest waits / Like a huge flock of brood hens / protecting with their wings / the roots of life to come.” The poems in the third section lack unity and are often too didactic in theme and language. Moreover, the use of different fonts becomes distracting and takes away from the meaning of some of the works. The book ends on a strange note with a parody called “I’ve Grown Accustomed to my Fat,” by the author and Mary Lois Hood Ketchersid. While humorous, the verse seems out of place with the rest of the pieces that focus on contemplation and connection.
An uneven and eclectic volume of reflective poems.