This Hiram Poetry Review has a lot of light poetry for an issue whose cover photo is a gravestone. Greg Moglia puzzles over his ineptitude in the real word in “Burger Days”: “why [did] it seem so difficult? / …here bugs land on burgers / The best worker is an ex-con and / There are answers everywhere / And I know none of them.” David O’Connell discusses zombies in “Symposium” where “Jack’s mourning the death of zombies in American movies / …and I’m all sympathy.”
My favorite poems in this issue are those about love. Many are beautiful because they portray the daily, unsentimental side of love; I am touched by their realism. Lyn Lifshin’s “Near the Grey Stones of the Episcopal Church” and Jane Varley’s “Love Letters” speak of early lovers whom these women have gotten over and yet whose memory still haunts them. Charles P. Ries’s “I Love” lists off the small, quirky habits and inclinations of one he loves: “Your method of slowly moving, methodically / passing through the house… / creating a perfect order in the universe of our life.” But my very favorite is Sean Conrey’s “Forest Ridge Farms Nocturne.” In this, a husband comes home after eleven hours of work to a wife who has been dealing with kids all day. They talk deep into the night: “Work, I think, would fill the void, she says. / It fills the time, but not the space… / …that’s what’s got me scared these days, you say… / …a humid waft slips through the windows. / That cut grass smell? You smell that, she says, / That’s what got me going. / I love you, you say. / this love, these thin walls can’t contain it.”
The gravestone on the front is actually a tribute to Almeda Ann Booth, one of the founders and scholars of Hiram College in the mid-19th century. She might be startled by the form of some of this contemporary poetry, but as Jamie Thomas discusses in the opening poem, “Soundtracking,” major and minor artists, high and low art, all combine to have different but lasting effects on the human soul.