social commentary, slices of life, in eighty-one poems – four stars.
For a cynical view of America at war, turn to Recruit. For additional social commentary, turn to Recurrent Haze, where you will find this: “The passage of time /deludes all of us.”
Beck can be touchingly personal, as in Voices of the Dead II, where we find this: “I think of my grandmother /who I never listened to /when she was alive, /always too impatient /to appreciate her. /Now I’m at a crossroads /between criminal acts/ and the need for something else, …”
Back to cynicism: turn to Charitable Contributions. Beck is not charitable to hypocrites.
For a bizarre and personal twist on religion, turn to Pet Cemetery. No spoilers here.
Beck can be deeply personal, as in Emergency Exit, which begins innocently thus: “I visited a friend /in the hospital, /where everyone I saw /looked ravaged by disease.” That’s not a spoiler, that’s only the beginning.
Social commentary is a recurring theme in this book, as in American Recession, which includes this: “no receipts for the funds /better spent at home, /there are no expressions of gratitude /for sacrifices made,…” (This reminds me of Robert Frost’s The Bonfire: War is for everyone, for children too.)
In Civil Rights for Witches I was reminded of a French philosopher who pointed out ‘equality’: it is illegal for boththe rich andthe poor to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal bread. Beck turns this idea sideways, but the characterization of persecution is similar, and Beck is dead on.
There is a lot of poignant social commentary here, including For Whom We Mourn V, and Voices of the Dead VI and VII.
I have other favourites in this volume, but the above should give you a feel for what’s on offer here. Beck is very good. Four stars plus for sure. Your personal rating may be higher.
Kindle Book Review Team member.