Review of Before the Bridges Fell by David L O’Nan. Ivor Daniel A poem is a bridge built of words and hope. Before the Bridges Fell takes us to many poems, many bridges. We cross from nightmare to light and sometimes back. To a mindscape where a bridge is a crossing, and simultaneously something to suicide jump off. Bridges across to the murky hopeful past of literature and lived experience. And to the tawdry here and now. In these dubious times of ours we read to escape, but not always into beauty. The characters in these poems navigate scripts not fully written, open to doubt and danger. The improvisation of their daily lives is hitchhike-ride scary. And these poems nail the truth that without that risk, we would not journey, would not create. O’Nan has ‘seen the ruin’, and has kept on living, kept on writing. The poet has witnessed humanity ‘Driving erratically and uncaring of a permanent damage’, on ‘freeways full of a new rage blinding - From metastatic stars on American car plates…. An embolism on a prairie field’. And further on up the highway, in another poem, ‘you can feel a little rot. When the curves of the road are at your throat’. O’Nan has seen the banal and the ugly side, and captured it like Hunter S Thompson and Ralph Steadman captured it, and thankfully for us he has kept on going until we can… ‘Watch the cities become countryside. And watch humanity float Off these infertile grounds’. In these poems there are precious moments when, as in our lives today, we are brought up short marvelling at moments of beauty (conventional or otherwise) amongst the horror and the drab; ‘We were cut from the Jerusalem sun. The pile of rags in the oils of the sand’. And there are glimpses of nature shining through; ‘The birds digest our mayhem to the streets’. And sometimes, there is peace and contemplation… ‘Let me sit another night and feel my completion through a pond full of stars’. But overall it is the unresolved angst of Americana, of humanity, that bubbles up through the sand in these poems, where … ‘lives are just scars to look at in our corners of a heaven. We continued gunning down true leaders. We took the beauty from our land’. O’Nan is prolific and well-read, and up front about his influences. He has one of his characters ‘hunting Bukowskis down with bottle cap bitten teeth’. In his Acknowledgements O’Nan describes himself as ‘an editor for humans all over the world’ and goes on to say that ‘the worldwide writing and reading community is the always fascinating...beating heart of the world’. This community is indebted to David L O’Nan for these pertinent and powerful contemporary poems. And for all the energy he puts into boosting other poets, and helping that ‘beating heart’ beat. All the poems in Before the Bridges Fell ‘weave in the beauty and the broken’. This is where we live, between the beauty and the broken. As we navigate the storms and fevers of the mind, the need to live between the dreams, ‘to brush the teeth, comb the hair’. To see our deal with society through. This book will help us do that. A poem is a bridge built of words and hope. “Before the Bridges Fell” by me David L O’Nan Poetry book is out today on Cajun Mutt Press Bio: David L O'Nan is a poet, short story writer, editor living in Southern Indiana. He is the editor for the Poetry & Art Anthologies "Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art. and has also edited & curated other Anthologies including 2 inspired by Leonard Cohen and an upcoming one inspired by Bob Dylan. He has self-published works under the Fevers of the Mind Press "The Famous Poetry Outlaws are Painting Walls and Whispers" "The Cartoon Diaries" & "New Disease Streets" (2020). A compilation of 4 books "Bending Rivers" a micro poem collection "Lost Reflections" and new book "Before the Bridges Fell" (look under books tab in Amazon) under Cajun Mutt Press & "His Poetic Last Whispers" (2022) David has had work published in Icefloe Press, Dark Marrow, Truly U, 3 Moon Magazine, Elephants Never, Royal Rose Magazine, Spillwords, Anti-Heroin Chic, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Voices From the Fire. Twitter is @davidLONan1 and for the book @feversof Join Facebook Group: Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Arts Group . Facebook Author page DavidLONan1 and goodreads page is https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18366060.David_L_O_Nan Reviewer bio: Ivor Daniel lives in Gloucestershire, UK. His poems have appeared in A Spray of Hope, wildfire words, Steel Jackdaw, Writeresque, iamb~wave seven, Fevers of the Mind, The Trawler, Roi Fainéant, Ice Floe Press and The Dawntreader. He has poems forthcoming in After..., Re-Side, Alien Buddha, The Orchard Lea Anthology (Cancer) and The Crump’s Barn Anthology (Halloween). . @IvorDaniel “Before the Bridges Fell” by me David L O’Nan Poetry book is out today on Cajun Mutt Press Blurb for “Before the Bridges Fell” upcoming book by me (David L O’Nan) on Cajun Mutt Press from Robin McNamara Blurbs for my (David L O’Nan) upcoming book “Before the Bridges Fell” with Cajun Mutt Press from Kushal Poddar Blurbs for my (David L O’Nan) upcoming book “Before the Bridges Fell”(Cajun Mutt Press) from Robert Frede Kenter at Icefloe Press Blurb for my (David L O’Nan)upcoming book “Before the Bridges Fell” Cajun Mutt Press from Ron Sexsmith(musician) Blurb for my (David L O’Nan) upcoming book “Before the Bridges Fell” by author Gail Crowther Blurbs for my (David L O’Nan) upcoming book “Before the Bridges Fell”(Cajun Mutt Press) from Ron Whitehead
Let it Bleed by Nicole I. Nesca (Screaming Skull Press) reviewed by Ivor Daniel.
Bleeding Authentic Writing Let it Bleed captures the feel of when you are young and need to run away from home But you still want to be found
Hemorrhaging in the shower The unwanted neon intimacy of medical examinations Morphine sleep Wake Hemingway saying writing is like bleeding
Swerving between prose & poetry The music of the times coming up on the radio then gone/past/static/interference
Road map of America sticky separating from parents / founders
Sticky Fingers Sticky long – distance bus rides to look for America
Loving / Hating / Loving / Turning Into
Elusive living up to Papa’s (and Hemingway’s) expectations
It all goes by so fast/life/a crystal/blur/outside the windscreen
And soon we are at now ‘solving the world’s crisis one ‘like’ at a time’
A tale of love and survival (What else is there?)
We aspire to humanity Survive like emotional sardines
It’s like a film It’s like heroism
Not the masculine old ‘I may be gone for some time’ heroism
The other sort Writing that bleeds
Let it flow
Nicole Nesca – you may be here for some time
Ivor Daniel worked as a street-based youth worker, then as a manager of youth work teams.
He lives in Gloucestershire, uk.
His poems have appeared in A Spray of Hope (@litscihub), wildfire words (the ezine of CheltenhaPoetryFestival), Steel Jackdaw Magazine, Writeresque Magazine,
iamb ~ wave seven, and Fevers of the Mind.
Ivor was sent a digital copy of Let it Bleed so he could write this review. Thanks, Screaming Skull..
A Review of Eden
Cop 26 has been and gone - and how are things looking in the Garden? What were the choices for Eve & Adam? What are our choices now? Eden, Robert Frede Kenter’s new chapbook, presents a vital glimpse into the work of an artist, photographer and poet who has been published and exhibited widely during the last 3 decades. In my reviewer copy I only see or perceive partially. This is ok, because i. we all know that art is best seen up close (or standing back) in a gallery anyway, and ii. the selection here, which is engaging and challenging for sure, is a glimpse through the hedge, or broken wall, of the garden. As Kenter writes in his Acknowledgements, ‘many of these works also have colour versions and other iterations’. This Eden makes you want to see them all. To wander through this artist’s studio and archives. The list of Contents is poetic. This excerpt gives a tang; Slow Jam # 2 Notation Two Barflies at a Bar, Next Day In the opening piece, Poem for an Imaginary Landscape, Kenter sets the scene. We hear of ‘exhibition dream flowers.......scattering landfill sites’ and ‘a ventriloquism of dots, jagged leaves’. This is skillful and vivid writing. Like Kenter’s artworks it leaves wide spaces for our own imaginings to run riot in cracks and corners. Next comes Angry Eden. Perhaps God / Satan in profile. Eve & Adam behind, eyes amok, the outlines of their faces curled as question marks. One of my favourite works is Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. 2 sidewalk signs announce THE HERE AND THE NOW ARRIVED A series of mathematical numbers appear in the perhaps apocalyptic margin. If we can only work out this equation. Just maybe. We might know what to do. In Raw: Fetish I see anonymous block buildings and collage dislocation. Maybe I am trying to drive out of town to escape some contemporary doom? Or, is it just the Friday afternoon rush? How do I feel when I see these 2 road signs? RAW NORTH ON FETISH Some of the works use the techniques of erasure poetry. Some words are harder to make out. Some are wilfully defaced or obscured. Like a Banksy shredding itself, in a way. Kenter’s techniques also remind us that some of these words are found text. Found, random, powerful, poetic. And, as in gardening and poetry and art, the question - what to leave in and what to leave out? Smudge is one of these erasure works. A written passage entitled Mathematics Educators is partly obscured by abstract swirling marks, and collaged part-words, part-sentences. It is impossible to read the main written passage. This resonates with me as I could never do the math anyway.
I am now looking at The Tree.
I cannot tell what the medium is. I have a black and white image on a computer screen. Nevertheless, after some of the other, harder, images in Eden I can actually feel the almost iconic furred, woody, reassurance of putting my palms on the vast
bark of a redwood tree. This is for well being. This is what we Need to Save. And need is an anagram of eden.
As Joni sang ‘ we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden ’.
And then what do we do?
Who gets to go on the rocket ship up to space? What does our earthly paradise look like from up there? Will they do anything differently, more responsibly, more equitably, when they come back down to earth? And how long will they keep that up for?
If poets and artists had been in Power since Nixon, would the world be in a better state? Hard to think it would be worse, anyway.
Robert Frede Kenter’s work smudges and illuminates the air here on planet Dollarama. It is informed by his openness to collaboration and community, and his experiences of travelling and living abroad. Kenter is a survivor, and this is good. Eden leaves us wanting more.
On a road trip with Kerouac, or with Cormack McCarthy. Even on your daily commute. You might want this chapbook in your backpack.
O brave new Eden that has such work in it.
Paradise Lost. Paradise Regained? Eden Reviewed.
Bio : Ivor Daniel lives in Gloucestershire, UK. His poems have appeared in A Spray of Hope, wildfire words, Steel Jackdaw, Writeresque, iamb~wave seven, Fevers of the Mind, The Trawler, Roi Fainéant, Ice Floe Press and The Dawntreader. He has poems forthcoming in After…, Re-Side, Alien Buddha, The Orchard Lea Anthology (Cancer) and The Crump’s Barn Anthology (Halloween). . @IvorDaniel
photo by Daniel Mirlea (unsplash)
In High Summer
when flies walk upon my forearm hairs proprietorial as landlords and the land is ripe with roadkill extreme weather scenarios play out in real time climate diplomats gather but the plenary is beached - delegates cloyed as wasps in coulis we sit around the water table with an ashen thirst everybody wants to make a move but no one does like watching the bleaching of coral the only thing agreed on is that all this is unprecedented unprecedented rainfall here unprecedented temperatures there unprecedented use of the word unprecedented everywhere in high summer the deluge the canicule the conflagration ants grow fat grow wings buzz my ears we pick at the brittle wishbone of consensus wait for crows locusts to draw down the dusk with a dry calling We Are Green One winter’s day through condensation windows I mistook a withered gunnera leaf for a heron’s wing. Imagined the bird coiled, primal, waiting at the water. Months later, in the veiled sphere under a summer gunnera plant, I imagined myself small, deep in zoological realms below explosions of virid strong-stemmed leaves as wide as the sky, blush flower spikes pushing up and through. Today in seasons of indeterminate grey when squirrels do not know which page of the nut calendar we are on, it is the verdure I return to. I daydream of a kinder world. Daylight and rainfall elect a parliament of plants. An upper house of trees. We are green, enfranchised. XY (No Means No) X. Doctor Foster went to Gloucester in a shower of rain. Fred and Rose they quit town but left a nasty stain. That’s Fred West - more than a sex pest. Did unspeakable things in his dirty vest. Y. Cycling past the rape seed fields brings it all back. The yellow so vivid, you lying on your back. The yellow, the horror, you want to be home, but find yourself involuntary, prone. He seemed ok at first, he said he’d drop you back. The stony ground remains no aphrodisiac. You shut your eyes your demon’s back, slow, stupid in the sack. And No Means No involuntary lying on your back. Choose Your Own Mother (for Rhianydd Daniel) I have heard it said the yet unborn can choose their parents. A strange idea, this. Although we live in times when nothing is beyond belief. If it is true.. If it is true, I ask myself the reason I chose you. Indecisive as I am, and daresay was before my birth, there is a scenario in which I am at peace. Wherein, unborn, I somehow hear your singing voice. And from that time I have no choice. sand in your blood I remember when you scraped your leg on coral.. a rose rust bloomed raw under your skin..the sea was a blister the moon was a bruise.. all night your fever rose and fell..lava tides licked feral flames..sand in your blood Ad Astra Zee I am waiting for my blood to clot. Broad beans block green veins, velvet furred. I am ripe for it. One day my feet will be corms, shoehorned in stony ground. My soles are up for it. Hey Astra Zee! I want my second dose already. I am weary of this solid flesh my veins so unimpeded. Bring on the levelling dark. I am ready, pale horse for your clip-clop. For blood clots. Bolt, beauteous breathlessness! Bolt, cramping throbbing pain stampeded! the paranoia shop sells mini cctv for the home or handbag sells cctv any size you need hard-sells hard knuckle dusters and knives all shapes and sizes beyond imagination for your perfect tribulation they say carrying a knife puts you more at risk of a stabbing but the stab-proof vests are on offer today see the cute hand guns to fit your hand just so the paranoia shop nestled between Gaultier and Kenzo I love to window shop there It makes me feel so safe worm haiku exit wounds out of apples, soldiers, the worm out of one the bullet Perfect Bed I dream I am at Bembom Brothers Dreamland funfair park with Tracey Emin. Hard by Margate sands. I know I shouldn’t drink that Vodka on the Helter Skelter. Apart from that, a Day as Perfect as the Lou Reed song. We Kiss with Fish and Chips Lips, Join Hips. A Turner Sunset Going Down. I guess it is the Golden Hour. Blair’s Babes and even some of his men MP’s are busy Changing a whole heap of things for the Better. Back in your room we remember that we even Changed the Bed this morning. The linen soft and cool next to our Optimistic skin. (This poem has previously appeared online in iamb-wave seven) Going back I went back, and it looked the same. I was not expecting that. Expected the usual rash of New Builds, creeping up the hill. I went back, thinking it would all look smaller, like when I came back from America aged 19, and it seemed like the train home had shrunk in a B movie. I went back looking for what? The muddy lane where we skidded our scooters? The neighbour’s garden gnome one of us pushed in his pond? The Fish Caves, where we played explorers? Journey to the Centre of the Earth, or at least some way in to that disused tin mine. I went back, not to look for my Dad, just some of the places he used to take us. Halfway between morbid and curious. I went back to the old conker trees and the scraped knees. To the broken fence on Bishop’s Wood Road, where it said No Trespassing but my Dad said we’d be alright. I went back to the old quarry with the pond we thought was a lake. I’m channeling a half- remembered sense of comfort, danger. Somewhere between Teddy Bears and Teddy Boys. I went back to stacking boxes of seaside rock at Woolworths. Each stick had writing all the way through, persistent as memory. From up on the hill you can see it all. The only thing different is wind turbines out at sea, turning like time. I remember a school master who left. All of a sudden. The smell of that old classroom at the end of the dark corridor. Scuffed floor wax. Bio: Ivor Daniel lives in Gloucestershire, UK. His poems have appeared in A Spray of Hope, wildfire words, Steel Jackdaw, Writeresque, iamb~wave seven, Fevers of the Mind, The Trawler, Roi Fainéant, Ice Floe Press and The Dawntreader. He has poems forthcoming in After..., Re-Side, Alien Buddha, The Orchard Lea Anthology (Cancer) and The Crump’s Barn Anthology (Halloween). . @IvorDaniel