LONERS AND MOTHERS is a collection of poetry short enough to be read in a single sitting, but powerful enough to stay with the reader for far longer. Ireland has the gift, at his best, of capturing a brilliant image in a few words, and then imbuing that image with a deeper, more profound meaning and purpose. He does not fall into the trap of over-explanation – the reader is left to grasp the importance of each hint, to approach the subtext of each poem through the filter of our own experiences and ideas. The word choice is deft and elegant, and the descriptions vivid, well-suited to their context.
For example, the poem “Silence” makes painful use of a sunset’s colors – “a silent wreck of colored blaze and blood” – to amplify the memory of a long-ago accident. Similarly, the poet’s descent into his internal meditations is matched by the scenery of “The Path to the Clearing,” in which “the vast sky dwindles/To a pale blue china bowl with a foliage rim” as he works his way deeper into the forest, and into himself, where he finds at the end “That philosophical conclusion/That clearing where the sun/Rains unimpeded, and you stand in a pillar of light.”
Simple things – a bucket to kick, the smell of roses after rain, a pricked finger on a sewing woman – are given resonance and significance, leading the reader to look more closely at the world around them. The poems about his parents are the most personal, and emotionally moving, of the works. Both “Alzheimer’s” and “Incident at Autumn Wind” are heartbreaking portrayals of a parent’s loss of self through dementia, but their perspectives are strikingly different and their emotional tone shaded differently to match. Occasionally, Ireland wanders too far into trying to make a particular point, and there are a few poems in here more preachy than lovely, but these are exceptions. His use of rhyme is careful and clever, and he mostly, but not always, manages to avoid the problem of an ABAB or AABB rhyme that comes across as too innocent and cheerful for a poem with a more serious tone.
LONERS AND MOTHERS is a graceful and thoughtful collection of poems, a bright example of what can be done with a few short lines and a gift for phrasing and imagery.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader