Ronald Wardall’s collection of poems Lightning’s Dance Floor examines the ordinary, what surrounds us everyday, and finds the extraordinary in it. In “Necessity,” the author sets the poem in his “blue-bright child-memory.” Among the details of the train on “the Nebraska track like spaghetti,” “the star-struck window,” and “tell-tale neighbors,” he finds, as a child, that “like my father, my soul / was willing.” “Seeking the Minotaur” works as a type of thesis for the poems, setting the author in the detailed landscape of New York in “immutable / November.” The author “summon[s] up ambition enough to map / the waves” and to “practice prying apart / my ribs with a tuning fork,” a metaphor for his undertaking to pull meaning from the simple everyday actions and objects around him.
Many of the poems in this collection are focused on story telling, not always necessarily a story about the author’s childhood or memories. For example, “Lighting Out for the Territory” introduces a recognizable character by the name of Huck and his simultaneous fear and desire for Becky Thatcher. The poem outlines this character’s ideals of married life, death of a spouse, and finally ends on the philosophical note of Huck attempting to “whittle memory / into something/ small enough to carry.”
Wardall’s strength as a writer is derived from his keen sense of observation; the attention to detail in these poems adds an authenticity to the meaning he derives from common situations.