Friday, September 4, 2009


What has Jack Henry done? He wrote a book of good poems. Ok, many people write decent books of poetry and some are lauded for their clever use of words, their sense imagery, etc. and they end up in glossy magazines and win awards and everyone smiles and thinks they are such wonderful poets, again, etc.  Jack’s not that kind of guy. Jack has some serious doubts about his own being, let alone his writing. He’s honest about this in the beginning of his new collection, with the patience of monuments. So why read something that is not on the tip of everyone’s tongue? Because, he wrote it, it’s human, and it’s exactly what a good book of poetry should be. No pretense, a fair bit of introspection, doubt, longing, and some great, great imagery. This small stanza struck me from the beginning:
“but that’s not the point 
i am more like a sea monkey
in a jar of  Vaseline set upon a shelf  
with a dusty lid  
next to a peeling dildo,
the one that hasn’t touched
hot flesh in fifteen years”
I like this because I can see it, I can relate to it, and I think I know what it means. It’s the kind of stanza that lingers with you for a while wondering, am I that dildo? More than likely, yes. Taking it even a step further, he inserts a healthy dose of imagination into his work. Not that his poems are fiction in a cloying, childish way, rather, he plays with persona and place in a way that puts the reader into the mindset of the poet. Although I usually tend to like writers who write straight-gut-shot from the heart, Jack likes to dance a bit with illusions and emotions and in this case, it works. It works, because there is a beating need behind it, a fragile one, a many times broken but still pumping one. I didn’t love every poem, but I didn’t need to. I needed to like the soul of the book, and I can say that I truly do.
If it comes down to buying yet another volume of Bukowski from the mega-book-mart’s meager poetry aisle or getting this book wherever you can find it, leave your barista-spat-in drink in the parking lot and drive until you get to Jack’s place. Say HI for me, I’d like to meet him someday.

Opinion: Good Read

-reviewed by GJ 

NeoPoiesis Press, LLC / 2009
156 pp. / $ 16.95

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