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.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Rating: 5 stars.
To Purchase: Amazon
Keith Moul’s blog