This is a great book to read. Its poems are written with very rich and elaborate language, beautiful and original metaphors, lovely rhymes and wordplays and, last but not least, frequent doses of humor and wit. This combination of ingredients makes it a fantastic read.
The authors have grouped the 84 poems in three topics as the title shows: Love Death Hell, only the order has been reversed. While Death still remains the second part, Hell comes first and Love is the last with the intention to give the readers a bittersweet taste of life and reality – according to how both authors perceive and describe the world and humanity –, where the issue of love provides for more pleasurable poems as we approach the end of the book. There is a linking poem for the three sections with three parts of the same piece as well: “The Bobblehead’s Pilgrimage I, II and III”.
Part 1: Hell
This is a section of 31 poems with a common theme as its title indicates. To a greater or lesser extent all the poems deal with the subject of hell, which is not portrayed as religions typically do such as Christianity. The opening poem, “The Bobblehead’s Pilgrimage I”, introduces a recurrent topic of this section: the lack of faith in god (always written in lowercase like the rest of the poems). God or Jesus is nonexistent, never there to help the individual – who, in turn, is being manipulated like a bobblehead – during his or her pilgrimage, that is, during his or her life journey, especially when life gets rough, when life becomes the real hell, “it keeps pushing me away”.
The following poems are all very well written: an original poem in Ukrainian and English called “Bilingual” about the passing of time as we are getting old, which is highly philosophical, existentialist, Heideggerian-like, posing a great question such as “how old must one be before they start to live?” Other beautiful poems are: “If Only The Muddy Fox Lives” with beautiful rhymes, musical, original and written with elaborate language; “Aweary Larva” has also great imagery and deep meaning; “Balance” has a lovely wordplay; “Cell”, very original poem about a cancer cell telling its life and with beautiful rhymes; “Four In The Morning” about time’s wheel where the first person narrator wants Jesus to stop the wheel of time; a deep poem in thought, philosophical about time and existence, the lost faith in Jesus and religion.
Other poems are: “A Grief With No Name” that also talks about the lack of faith; “Soppy Dominess” where people are described as puppet-like with “a puppeteer behind clouds”, a reckless character, God?; “Merman’s Ode To Mammon”, against our consumerist and materialistic society; “The Blackmailed Vicar”, about the church and a sex worker that “licks her lips and says, “amen””, a humorous critique of hypocrisy in religion and the church.
Finally, other poems that have drawn my attention are: “божевільний”, a poem with its title in Ukrainian, about the relationship between God and the human being who becomes an atheist as “god gets angry” and slams the door even though “rent is high” and the individual chooses his or her freedom instead of submission to a totally unhelpful God; and “Is This What You Wanted (Apologies To Leonard)”, a homage to Leonard Cohen and to other great artists like Marilyn Monroe and David Bowie.
Part 2: Death
This section of the book contains 27 poems dealing with the issue of death. The connecting poem is the second part of “The Bobblehead’s Pilgrimage”. In this section there are again many exquisitely written poems: “La Mort d’Étincelle (A Life Without)” is a beautifully crafted poem dealing with the topics of death, family and war; all written in an unconventional way with a mixture of old forms of the English language and more modern style. The imagery is lovely. Other poems I have enjoyed very much in this section are: “Tanjung (A Gangrel’s Dream of Georgetown)”, about a wandering beggar in the darkness. In the poem I see this artist as someone who lives in submission, lacks recognition and, sadly enough, is equalled to trash (“trash was art and art was salving/ for gashes in walls and souls without traction/ and i was art and i was trash”). “Charcot Thresholder (Shower Daze)” is another lovely poem that compares growing up with taking a cold shower. In just very few words a lot is beautifully expressed with two very powerful closing verses.
Other poems in this section are: “Where else would I be after the rain?”, which has very beautiful imagery; “27 White Raven Club” with the presence of the raven as a symbol of death but also renewal (“ravens teach us to find faith in ourselves”); “Wardrobe (half empty or full)”, which is a beautiful haiku; “Broken Tan (‘)ka”, with a powerful message; “Solstice”, a piece with lovely images and rhymes; “Ladder To Heaven”, a kind of new version of Samson’s and Delilah’s story, beautifully worded; “You Cannot Redo” that has great musicality and lovely tripple rhymes; and “Immortality”, another lovely haiku.
Part 3: Love
The last section with 26 poems is introduced by the third and last part of the poem “The Bobblehead’s Pilgrimage”. In this last part the “it keeps pushing me away”, which is related to religious faith in God or in the gods, disappears as the lover leads the first person narrator of the poem away from the bus platform. I wonder at these two lines:
“i’ve stood at the stop
awaiting the last bus”
This could have a second reading and be a metaphor for the last journey, which could mean the end of the individual’s life, death, where only love saves this individual. The main message then would be: Love is what really counts and no more worries as “there’s neither death nor immortality” in the sense our world has made us believe. This is a great poem to read and reread, beautifully written and highly philosophical.
Another beautifully crafted poem in this section is “Dandelion”, a poem of hope and renewal, with a lovely connection between nature and human feelings: “i’m a soul scattering seeds”. In this piece there are great wordplays and rhymes. Some lines keep repeating themselves throughout the poem and give it even more strength; they look like the chorus of a song. The whole poem possesses great lyricism, which makes it especially musical like these lines:
“altho’ the frost it cake me
in weakness it not take me
nor quaking skies unmake
because of you”
Other lovely poems are: “Awesome Sauce”, where love and delicious food are compared in an original way; “”Unity”, short and with nice rhymes; “Un[sole]mn” with delightful wordplays, “Lady’s Soul”, a beautiful poem for its concision and powerful message; “Aelita’s Lullaby” that has great imagery; “Bussed And Buzzed”, also beautifully written, romantic and with a special musicality:
“we kissed on a jetty high
above the fishes
where warm swells loll in
“Cease Fire” is another lovely poem and with an unexpected original ending; “Quietus” about the departure of one lover symbolised by the ship, exquisitely written, seems to be influenced by old myths and legends from the classic literature; and finally, “Larissa”, the closing poem, short and beautiful, with the intrigue whether the lover will be waiting for the other person.
© August 2018 Marta Pombo Sallés