Book Review – NAKED AMONG POSSIBILITIES by Keith Moul

Keith Moul’s chapbook, Naked Among Possibilities, is his seventh published work. Inside, you will find works dedicated to family, nature and baseball. Moul isn’t just a poet; he is also a photographer and his poetry reads like skilled photographs on display – snapshots of life, living, love and nature.

In the poem, Vine and Wall, Moul reflects on how a vine and a wall have been tended by the locals for three hundred years. As though looking through a lens, he tells a snapshot of the historic significance of the vine and wall before inviting the reader into the sights, sounds and smells of the surrounding area – “Hearing scrub trees fall, watching/paint crack and peel, smelling rust/work and deer dead on the roadside,/I admire the nurturing of vine and wall.” And finally, Moul brings us from the impersonal of the vine and wall into the personal of his own life, picking weeds and repairing his fence. He ends with these words, “But I cannot conceive a storied vine,/nor can I create an honored wall.” It is his ability to take us from the concrete to the tangible that makes this poem so powerful.

Moul dedicates four poems to his wife Sylvia – Going With Luck, Rattler Streams On Course, A Period of Inattention, and Come On Fairy. Each poem reveals how Moul blends a photographic eye of nature, his own desires and inner conflicts with his observations of Sylvia.

In Going With Luck, Moul begins the poem discussing winter and how it affects him and his surroundings. His words entice the reader to witness his concept of luck – “My winter months often go with luck,/a barometer my shaman/parceling small peace with wild disruption,/as if to urge tolerance of a mercurial child.” He ends the poem with Sylvia’s view of luck – “Like a diva of dirt,/trusting in luck, you sing/your original songs.” There is a beauty in his words which draws the reader into Winter and cold and quiet resolution.

In Rattler Streams On Course, the reader gets to view a trip to the red Sedona canyons. The language in this poem is rich and angular in its description of nature. My favorite lines are those that describe Sylvia’s actions – “Feet bared, you wade ceremonially in a red baptismal,/all smiles at your initiation: cacti blooming up the wash,/seductive, spike and flesh concoctions fully evolved/for sumptuous, momentary color, then exiled to hibernation/in hard seeds.”

A Period of Inattention is slightly different from all the others. He talks about how he once molded young minds (and his own) but how he has tired of this course of life. His words echo this sentiment – “Or, have I/finally withdrawn from too many poor decisions/or chosen to forget?” He goes on to describe how he has returned from “the Gulag, back from the Cave of the Winds,” from “lost tribes” to “reclaim conscience, and baseball,” and “just in time for Valentine’s Day.” To me, the entire poem sounds like paying penitence for ignoring Sylvia so long in his pursuit of career and interests. It is a beautifully written confession poem.

Come on Fairy is a song of praise to Spring, but more importantly to Sylvia. Of Spring, Moul writes – “I am of two minds about spring: this early/version of crocus, wet, and green sprig;/and the voracious revival of growing things/deadset on sunlight and extra shares of air.” And of Sylvia, she has become a fairy in his imaginings – “Aw come on fairy, you know you’ve moved me/into mud, maybe only one knee at a time,/so my butt’s inevitable surrender, icy cold,/red and tingling, meets yours in happy slime.” This merging of real and fantasy creates a lovely vision for the reader.

Moul is a baseball fan and dedicates two poems to the game. In A Crack In The World, he discusses Pete Rose – his rise and fall. Although the poem is divided into four parts, his opening words sum up this poem elegantly – “Notice a tough stalk growing low/to the ground, elastic, always feeling/for attainable space: an animal rose, called pete,/albeit not blessed with appealing scent./Forgive such a rose its cruel sport.” In his final poem of this chapbook, titled The Fifth Inning, he opens the poem with “Do I ache too much for the national game? I tend to arrive/for the groundskeepers’ complete routine, hose, chalk and all.” You immediately get the sense that although he loves the game, he also has raw feelings toward it too. He laments at how badly the game is going, the missteps and errors. By the end of the poem, you get the complete line of disgust – “Disgusted, I abandon friends in the stands for limping innings 6-9:/so many summers of fruitless hopes, dinghies at sea, languishing/with jargon in the second division, just beyond community pride.” As a baseball fan myself, I can definitely understand the dichotomy between love and hate for the game.

These are just a few of the beautiful and raw poems in Naked Among Possibilities. Within are still poems of love and lust, a dedication to his daughter, and more observational poems about life and nature. Reading Moul’s work takes you on a journey through your own psyche. His words have a ring of truth to them, imagery that anyone can relate to. Although the words are not complicated, the themes are often complex. If you enjoy poetry about life, relationships and nature, then this chapbook is for you.

I rate this book 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

To Purchase: Amazon

Keith Moul’s blog

Daily Prompt Poetry: To Hear The Silence

Incredibly raw poem on Silence, Depression and Death
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happymeerkatreviews

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So here’s anther wonderfully ‘happy’ poem inspired again by the daily prompt challenge, today’s word being Silence .  I’m not sure if this poem sounds right, it came out in a rather disconnected process today.  Not sure what I’d written until I read it back and after that I didn’t really know if and what to edit so I mainly left it as was written :o !  So be kind in any comments please, especially if you think it’s terrible:/ .

To Hear the Silence

Don’t want to listen, don’t want to hear,

Don’t want the silence to return.

Drown out the sound, put on the music,

No longer want to feel it burn.

Play it loud, louder than ever,

Can’t stand to hear the quiet.

Scream, shout, anything will do,

Snuff out the sound of this riot.

Take it away, don’t make me hear,

Can’t cope with all the pain.

Bring a…

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Daily Post Prompt: Silence

a beautiful piece of poetic prose on Silence
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The Happy Wordcrafter

Today’s prompt is “Silence.”  I originally wrote the piece below well over a year ago. But it fits the prompt so perfectly that I am giving it a second airing.

Exif JPEGTHE SONG OF SILENCE

My fingers touched the keys of silence, and I played its song. It pulled from me a longing that I thought was gone forever – the yearning to release my soul in flowing words that birth new life in images and sounds that intertwine and reach another soul and draw it close to mine.

I feared my well was dry, my soul an empty sieve, and that I’d never again know a yearning to create with words that live.

Ah … now …  the peace, the solace that replaces fear. For now I know I have it still – the gift to make words living things. All it took was spending time with silence for a…

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Crossroads

powerful poeming! A relative theme of life at a crossroad.
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Putting My Feet in the Dirt

crossroads

Standing at the desolate and obscure intersection
She stared at the ground and saw her reflection
In a lonely puddle she looked disheveled and forlorn
She hardly recognized herself all tattered and worn
No sense of direction and feeling thoroughly disgraced
She thought of the unending agony that she now faced
Rejected and damaged her scars were unpleasantly clear
She was broken beyond mending and forever hiding in fear
She knew she had to make a decision about which road to take
But all she could do at the moment was stand there and shake
Her life seemed senseless and was brimming with infinite loss
The hurdles were relentless and she couldn’t see how to get across
She stood there and thought for an exceptionally long time
Wondering if loving too much had been her worst crime
Standing still at the crossroads and looking up at the darkening sky
She…

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Book Review – Inspire by Vijaya Gowrisankar

Vijaya Gowrisankar’s book of poetry has a single word title, a word that leaves you in raw anticipation and encourages you to seek out the promises that it offers. Inspire lives up to that anticipation and promise with poems that burst free the human emotions of love, loss, joy, and disappointment, but it never fails to fill you with inspiration. Vijaya’s form is free-style with the occasional rhyme, but she writes in a simplicity that allows her to speak to the everyday man and woman. You will not find any complex metaphors here, nor underlying difficult or hidden messages. What you will find are delightful and well-penned gifts to the human soul.

Vijaya’s book is divided into six sections: Life, Change, Nature, Let Go, Positivity, and Random Thoughts. Each section gives the reader a glimpse into the compelling mind of the poet. You will find yourself lingering in each section, often reading and re-reading individual poems, allowing words to seek the deepest parts of your heart and soul. You cannot allow yourself to simply read and move forward without the messages offered here to sink-in, to do so would be an injustice to the poet and your own self. These poems are meant to be savored.

In Life, Vijaya opens the section with a short dedication:

Every time I thought of you (Life)
You gave me a different picture to paint
My words fell short
You awed me
And I owed it to you
To express myself…

With those words, you know immediately that the poet intends to prove herself worthy to Life, and to reveal to you the awe that Life has shown her. In the first poem of this section, Life…you are like…, Vijaya compares Life to a game, an epic, a musical play, and a mural. These concepts are beautifully written and profound. Each of us are, at this very moment, playing the game of life and we know these words to be truth: “The paths are decided, on the options we take/ No way to retrace or get back the lost time.” She encourages us to tell our own stories, “Spreading magic, displaying inner strength and conviction/ Building silently the personality, molded by situations.” There are no regrets here. Instead, you find conviction in her words: “Rough sketches are the efforts we put in/ Masterpieces are our achievements in life.” She reminds us not to dwell on those “rough sketches,” but to find peace in our own “masterpieces,” those moments in our lives where we achieve greatness.

In another poem, Life…setting you free..., Vijaya reveals much of herself. She offers doubt: “I wonder what I would do if I were free/Free of relations, free of boundaries, free to fly,” and allows us an opening into her own world, a world where imagination has set her free, that without it, “I would still be this shy, introvert person, in the background/With secret wishes to conquer the world, and make a difference.” And as readers, we too are reminded that imagination is the tool with which to free ourselves.

In Life…I wish…, Vijaya leaves these jewels for us: “laughter prevails, like a resounding waterfall,” “peace of mind, is the thread binding emotions,” “old age is a mere number, not a curse to befall” and finally, a strong reminder, “loneliness is not a friend to invite.”

In Each of these Life poems, Vijaya struggles with doubts, rejoices in laughter, agonizes over pain, and indulges in the simple joys of motherhood. She also offers prayers to Life, that despite all of her failings and missteps, she truly is a viable player in Life’s grand scheme. She does not want to be merely an observer, and she doesn’t want that for her readers either.

In the next section, Change, Vijaya opens with this insight:

Change has been a friend
Since I recall my memories
Some changes are circumstantial
That life throws at you
Some are in our hands…

The only way to move forward
Is to have a liberated mind, to be self-aware
To embrace change for the better
You compelled me so much
I had to pen you in my words…

Throughout the poems in this section, Vijaya reminds us that change is inevitable, but through change we accept, we grow, and we move forward. In her poem, Unexpected Turns, she gives us these words to ponder:

The question is, what choice do we have then?
Yes, we can rant and rave at the incorrectness
Or we can move forward, searching for newer avenues
It’s tough I know, but we need to move on

In her painstaking and endearing poem, Let me breathe, we are shown the agonizing realization of the birth of a female child in any country still given rule by archaic standards:

I have been conceived out of love
You were so happy till yesterday
Today it was revealed, that I am a girl
Don’t destroy me, give me this life
I can’t smile, I can’t hold you or cry out
I am still a speck in your womb
Oh mother! please protect me
Let me breathe…

Vijaya has written this poem for all women in all countries were female children are not as revered as male children, they do not inherit wealth and are at times a burden to the family. Vijaya dwells on these antiquated ideas as the subject of this poem begs the parents to let her go to school, grow as a teenager into adulthood, and as she, herself, becomes a parent. She continues the poem with gratitude toward the parents for giving the subject the opportunity to breathe: “We have been lucky, all girls don’t have this wonderful journey, I know…” Not only is the subject of this poem grateful to the parents, but she gives credence to their love and nurturing natures. With these final reflections, the subject shows how, although society may have not changed much in her lifetime, her own reactions have changed:

I just found out today that I will be blessed with a baby girl
As I hear her heartbeat, I can hear her echo in my ears
Let me breathe…

The subject is “blessed” to have a baby girl and reminds us that even she, in all her quiet rebellion, must allow her own child room to grow and breathe. This is a universal theme, the realization that as parents, we want to hold on to our children tightly, keep them safe and secure, but ultimately, we have to give them space to develop and become individuals.

The remaining poems in the Change section offer hope, resilience, moments of reflection, the agonies that come with the passing of time, but always, the undeniable desire for change… a change of attitude towards others and a change within one’s self.

In Vijaya’s Nature section, she gives us flashes of the natural beauty that surrounds her, but she also gives us an insight into the effects that nature has on the human psyche. In the section’s opening, she unveils that insight with these words: “I draw parallels between nature and life/And try to learn how to live life through Nature’s lessons.” Each poem expresses her love of nature and how it drives her as an observer and a doer. In Garden, She not only expresses her love for all occurrences in the garden:

I stare at the garden, mesmerized
Flowers in full bloom, flaunting their freshness, fragrance and colors

Drawing eyes in awe – people, butterflies and bees alike
The view so magnificent, my eyes don’t blink

but how it affects the human condition: “The fruit of labor, hard work and toil – a visual delight/There for the world to see and appreciate.” She concludes the poem with this reminder: “To bring a smile, when I am lost or sad/To motivate me to create such a garden in any field.” Vijaya knows that a physical garden will wither and die over the course of a season, but when you hold such visions in your memory, no matter where you are or what is affecting you at any given moment, you can recall those memories and recreate that beautiful scene and find comfort.

Vijaya creates those kinds of scenes over and over again in her Nature poems. Whether in the beauty of a rainfall, sand cascading through our fingertips, or the melodic call of the cuckoo, she reminds us that we are, at times, inexplicably connected to nature. In Crows, my favorite of her nature poems, she explains the complexity of crows, and how they’ve fascinated her ever since she was a child. It is in her closing stanza though that we grow to understand how she connects their mannerisms to human behavior:

The unity and uniqueness they represent
Is hard to find in us, people
They teach a lesson, if we want to learn
We can try, even if it’s hard to implement

It is true that crows have a pack mentality. They take care of one another, share their meals, and caution one another. This unity is hard for humans to understand as we are known for our selfish nature. Parenthood is perhaps the only time in human development where this type of behavior is reached, but perhaps not with the consistency of the crow. Indeed, there are lessons there for us humans to learn.

The Let Go section hosts some of my favorite of Vijaya’s poems. In these poems, she wrestles with letting go of the past, the future, of pain, loss and love. The concept of “letting go” is akin to Acceptance: accepting that you have no control and thus allowing what is and what will be to occur without interference. In her poem, Winds of time, she compares life to the cycles of a flower:

As the petals of life, disperse with the winds of time
Gathering them seems a tough task and I let them remain

The once blooming bud nurtured by love and care
The flower handed over delicately to another

Wishing the future, to be adorning a loved one
The flower was lost, in the maze of the unknown

Struggled to find its identity and destiny
Find though it did, some precious moments of happiness

Temporary it was, as it had to wither away
Fragrance of moments, only to be dispersed with the winds of time…

Letting go is not merely surrender. It is not forgetting. It is, instead, a quiet resolve: we are born, we suffer, we love, and we die. Holding on to things we cannot change will only force us to live continually in pain.

In the Positivity section, Vijaya’s poems remind us to release the negative and embrace a positive mind-set. She opens the section with these words:

As I started to write and be positive
And released this negative energy
I became happier and a more content person
I started taking charge of my destiny and enjoying life

In her poem, Wait and embrace, Vijaya encourages us to be patient in life, to weather loss and pain, to accept and seize the positive:

Wait till the moon rises
To call it a day and embrace sleep
It’s to rejuvenate and recharge oneself
Let the leaves of disappointments float away…

Wait till the sun rises
To conquer each day’s challenges
It’s to spread the wings in the guiding light
Armed with zeal, enthusiasm, support, ready to fly…

Wait till the tides wash ashore
To let the past, hurt, bitterness go
Wash away the pain to move forward
Write a new chapter, on a fresh canvas with a new outlook to life…

Wait till the seasons change
To reiterate that everything is temporary
Tough times too shall pass, persistence is the key
In hindsight, the experience and strength shall prevail…

Wait till the trees grow from plants
To nurture with care, each relation in life
It shall bear fruits, give shade and support in time of need
Patience, love over the years remain the key…

Wait till you connect with nature
To achieve that self-realization and satisfaction
Life itself is a gift, to be cherished and lived
Feel that joy, free the soul, frame the memories, follow your heart…

In these Positivity poems, you will discover the solace of silence, the joys of dreams, the serenity of prayer and the beauty of love. Vijaya’s voice will echo in the chambers of your heart and soul, filling you with compassion, wonder, and bliss.

In the last section, Random Thoughts, Vijaya questions her own identity, her desires for freedom, her role in the world, her acceptance of grace, and how her spiritual beliefs have shaped her world-view. It is in her final poem, Don’t let me quit, where these inspirational poems come to fruition:

Don’t let me quit
when I give up and sit
when hope is slayed by a hit
when every action is a misfit
when I feel I have lost all grit

Her words are as much a prayer to God:

just get me to sweat, to vent my anger
force me to feel the essence of success’s hunger
ensure I move forward, and not let despair linger
ignore all resistances, and be my anchor

as they are a plead to society as a whole:

I need your push, your strength and faith
to search for oceans that wash away the hate
to fill the void, write a new story on a clean slate
to rise again and prove that we control our fate
you made me breathe and helped me achieve

Vijaya’s collection of poems is to be cherished and silently absorbed into our whole being. Her words radiate truth and wisdom. In a world constantly bereft with pain and struggle, Vijaya’s poems remind us that we are all a part of the same whole, we are spiritual beings in search of love and acceptance, and we can have healthier lives when we let go of pain and regret and focus on positive, meaningful pursuits. Indeed, her words will Inspire you.

You can purchase a copy of Inspire by Vijaya Gowrisankar on Amazon.

Book Review: Warrior, Champion, Legend by Trevian J. Hunter Brannon

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Warrior Champion, Legend by Trevian J. Hunter Brannon is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It is filled with rhythm and rhymes that satisfies the poet in me, but it also speaks to the side of me that likes to be entertained by words. This is not merely a book of poetry, it is also filled with stories that unfold throughout giving one a glimpse into the mind and mastery of the author.

Although there are many themes that weave their way through the sections of this book (love, sex, relationships, injustices, tributes, etc.), the most powerful theme is Brannon’s relationship with God, made apparent by these words:

Blesseth be the day when I go to that eternal paradise…
I thank you Precious Lord every day for this gift called life
And knowing that it’s another place better than this…
It’s enough to make me smile & put me in a peaceful bliss
Serenity… it’s what I truly live for
Eternal life is what I hunger for…

Don’t be fooled, WCL is not a religious tome. It is an expression of living and life, as well as an anthem for justice and speaking truth to power – a realization that one can be a warrior, a champion and indeed a legend.

The following lines are probably my favorite. As one who has had a brush with death far too often (and at times by my own hands), these words give me comfort:

Death is just a phase, a step closer to something greater
A blessing in disguise far better than a triple-agent
When I die, I know that people are going to cry & mourn
But if they look in the eyes of my seeds, they’ll see that I am reborn
Needless to say, I’ll still be aware of what’s going on
I’ll still be among you all even though this earth is not my permanent home

WCL reflects the world in which Brannon lives – Urban America, a world of Rap, and the language of that culture. I will admit, if you are not well-versed in Rap and the various artists of that musical genre, you will miss many of the references in Brannon’s work. However, one should not dismiss his work for that reason. And although it would be easy to place him in a box because this may seem foreign to some readers, one should read his work first to see that we are not all so different deep down. To draw from a cliche, there is more here than meets the eye.

In his first poem titled Until the End of Time, Brannon muses about childhood in Port Arthur TX, going to college in Florida, and about choices he could have made:

At times I wonder is this truly for me?
To be off in college all the way out here in Florida, trying to uphold the peace
What if your boy would’ve got off into selling drugs & smoked that hay?
What if I would’ve lost my virginity & ultimately made a baby??
What if I would’ve caught HIV from a hoe who pretended to be a lady??
Here’s the moral of my story: It’s simple, waaaayyy up I am truly blessed…

If sexual, sensual themes are your forte, check out Fell In Love With A Stripper, Love…, It Was A Good Day Part 2 , and It Was A Good Day Part 3, all of which describe various sexual encounters and forms of love.

One of my favorite pieces in this book  is Surprise Party. It is a mixed bag of scenes. Brannon describes going back home to Texas for a party for his dad and then he includes some sensual, sexual descriptions of more encounters with the ladies. In the middle of the poem, he gets reflective about finding The One:

But is there such a woman that exists like my “Wonder Woman”?
And I often ask myself, “Am I truly ready for that type of woman?”
A woman is sultry, amazing, seductive & so much more
To this piss poor morally, she’ll seem like a whore…
However, she’s far from that…
She’s wild, full of freedom Titillating, desirable, a beautiful person… full of freedom.
Highly sensual & dangerously sexy
Some would say that she’s quite foxy
Her aura gives me a rush like her name is Tyra B.
I’m her ‘Jay-Z’ & she’s my ‘Queen B’
I’ll be her ‘Brad Pitt’ & she will be my ‘Angelina Jolie’…
My sweet Valkyrie, so motivated & dedicated…
The day that she enters my life will be the moment of my emancipation…

Later in the poem, he recalls some hardships that many readers can relate to:

I’ve dealt with humiliation
Being talked about behind my back, in my face, felt like a child of shame Sometimes folks laughed at the very sound of my name
I thought that if I blended in, people’s perspective about me would change
And even though I rolled with the big crowd sometimes…
I still got treated like a peon, like a sucka most of the time…
Thought I had a lot of real friends that I could trust
The object that people clowned & dissed… I was.
The tool for being manipulated… I was.

There are so many intriguing poems and stories within WCL, and I don’t want to spoil readers’ fun of exploring them for themselves, but there is one that I want to draw attention to. It is titled Tribute To A King… Brannon writes about how Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for freedom and justice and how “If The Prince of Life could lend me his powers, I would bring him back.” I think most readers can empathize with those sentiments. We lost so many great leaders and activists during those turbulent times of the Civil Rights Movement. We would all wish to have them back again, especially now when it seems we are again faced with inequality and injustices in America.

WCL is a a whirlwind of surprising poetics mixed with stories that will captivate readers. Even if Rap isn’t your thing, and even if some of the language in this book seems foreign to your ears, this book is still worth reading. As you’ve seen, there are hidden gems throughout that we can all relate to no matter what background we come from. Finally, I want to end this review with these words from the poem titled If It Was Up II Me (there is much more to this poem, so please, read it in full):

If It Was Up II Me
There would be serenity, harmony & peace
All the senseless violence & fuckery would cease

To purchase Warrior, Champion, Legend: Amazon