Home » Newpages Blog » roger – Spring 2008

roger – Spring 2008

This edition of roger is amazing for its depth, its breadth, and its… fabulousness. I smiled through every page, and was truly sad when I was done, though I know that I will go back to it again and again, and it will be as old novels, dog-eared pages indicating that it has been loved.

This edition of roger is amazing for its depth, its breadth, and its… fabulousness. I smiled through every page, and was truly sad when I was done, though I know that I will go back to it again and again, and it will be as old novels, dog-eared pages indicating that it has been loved.

roger starts the parade right from the get-go with Gabriel Spera’s “Grubbing” front and center. This poem compares a jay as it forages for food. Writes Spera, “The jay’s up early and attacks the lawn / with something of that fervor and despair / of one whose keys are not where they always are.” Such delightful metaphors fill the mind with fancy, and the author doesn’t stop there. His jay is also a metaphor for hard-working parents who never can seem to catch up. For example, he talks of his bird and muses that, “He must get something for his selfless work.” Of this frustration, I think I can safely say that we’ve all been where this bird finds himself now. And, as Spera ends his delightful poem with, “Unless, of course, he’s just a bird, with beaks – / too many beaks – to fill, in no way possessed / of traits of demons humans might devise, / his dark not filled with could-have-beens and whys.”

Spera’s talent doesn’t stop at aviary poems. He likes bees, too. This collection showcases another of his poems called “The Hive.” After the narrator of this poem has pest-control visit the hive, he observes several hangers-on. These, the flying wounded, will “go down stinging, as I / surely would, settling the score with a world / too weak in soul to let them be.” This too, is a gem, as Mr. Spera’s talent springs from every word.

And, with a very short-short story, Aaron Hellem showcases a talent all his own with “The Circumference of Chicago.” Of his girlfriend, presumably, he writes: “She dreams in Italian that she can sing in any language, sing the songs of birds well enough to perch in trees.” The narrator’s love for this woman shimmers on every line. Says Hellem, “[She] Will sing to the Spanish boys as she descends from the fourth-story window and circles over their heads. She will tell them when they grab their crotches they haven’t the life or dreams big enough to follow through with their threats.”

Further, I would be remiss as a reviewer if I didn’t include Carolyn Petri’s translation of Pablo Neruda’s “Poem 15.” Neruda’s native Spanish merges wonderfully with Petri’s interpretation: “And leave me to speak to you with your silence / clear as a lamplight, simple as a ring. / You are like night, quiet and constellated. / Your silence is of a star, as remote and austere.” This offering from Neruda is of the sort that confirms my belief in the power of the written word.

More treasures can be found in the short story, “Villain,” by S. Craig Renfroe, Jr., and Maura Stanton’s “Class Assignment: Thirteen Ways of Looking for a Poem.” The latter I loved for its literary tech-speak, the former for its subtle humor that brilliantly leaves you feeling just a bit uneasy.
[www.rwu.edu/roger]

Spread the word!