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Traveling Music by Eric Greinke

Traveling Music by Eric GreinkePaperback: 84 pages

Publisher: Gazelle Book Services (August 9, 2010)

ISBN-10: 0980008190

ISBN-13: 978-0980008197

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Review by:  Sandra Davidson

It is a superstition of mine: I never read the back cover, the blurbs of praise or the author’s bio until the book is read. A quite similar ritual is performed with movies.

With poetry, I often start with the last poem first so I do not know the sections or chapters, or titles of poems until I meet them.

Eric Greinke’s “Traveling Music” gave me deep pause at page 78 with ‘The Accident’. The words open in on action of a common domestic scene, using children as an ultimate and desperate bargaining tool. If you’re clenching your jaw by the last word of the third, your jaw is bound to be slack at the start of the fourth and onto the end of the poem.

Greinke is paddling into the middle of his sixth decade. Some of the work is going to be reflective and backward-looking. I would hope so. The difference I found in his hindsight is he sees the reflection of his past in the light of a forward-looking window.

Too, his words of self-recrimination are not lashes to his hide; instead he joins the suffering hearts who knew what could be done and what wasn’t, as with ‘Expressway Death’ and eerie threat in ‘Apparition’. Between dustless white pages I am with him at a ‘Visitation’. Though we cross the threshold twice, it isn’t we who are doing the visiting.

These are poems to carry me to a wiser place as in ‘Kayak Lessons’, which is spoken as if to a young man in a sporting goods store, a young man who maybe didn’t ask for two bits of a stranger’s opinion, and then hears experience instead of advice.

You can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Traveling-Music-Eric-Greinke/dp/0980008190

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Sandra Davidson

-Sandra Davidson is the Fiction Editor of The Fox Chase Review

Double Agent by Michelle Chan Brown

by Michelle Chan Brown

6 x 9,” 80 pgs, perfect bound

Kobe Press – ISBN:978-1-888553-52-9

Review by: Diane Sahms-Guarnieri 

Double Agent by Michelle Chan Brown is a book filled with double meanings.  Many of the poems have a slight narrative, a thin thread, woven through its pages of poems.

“Shipwreck’s” metaphors are filled with luscious sounds and images, such as: We wept soundless as sand; our heartbeats thrilled, lazy as laps; Breezes licked our faces flat; Distance gifted the world a shimmer; and Skylights cracked and loaned us stars. 

“The Retirement Home for Nuns” written in couplets moves the reader quickly through a poem where the speaker is visiting a Sister/Nun at a nursing home with many surprising twists and turns, starting with an opening couplet that describes each room: A sink in every room and on the wall, / the bare white outlines of the crucifix, spindly.  The poem quickly turns to the speaker and lover punning on Shakespeare’s famous Get thee to a nunnery, and replacing it with Get thee between my thighs, or I’ll take the company of a handsomer beast.  There’s a cat stalking ghost, a seeing-eye portrait (Mary) and a permanent lipstick print on the chalice.  The poem winds its way to an exchange of words between the speaker and a nun, and fittingly enough the poem concludes with The end is near, I said, to break the ice.

There are four Autobiographies with Roman numbering; “Dear Bluebeard, Dear Love”; “A Newlywed’s Guide to Hunting”; “Honeymoon in Leningrad”; “Say “Please” Before You Take My Hand”; etc., which describe the poet’s views about self, love, life, family, place, and husband.  Some are straightforward, some ironic, some catch you off guard and some have echoes of the speaker’s mother surfacing here and there: Marriage is hard, says my mother, my occasional shopping partner.  Every morning, you wake up and it’s there, that head on the pillow, waiting to hate you.  The mother’s role as victim or “sage” is always delivered with dry humor that undercuts and allows the reader not to take life too seriously.  One of mother’s cope mechanisms for dealing with problems is to Throw the whole mess into the machine, pour a cocktail, pull the lever.

There is a lot to absorb, digest, and chuckle at here.  Overall, the seriousness of every situation lends itself to double meanings by a Double Agent poet, who works with and against the grain of love and life with honesty and irony.

You can read the poetry of Michelle Chan Brown in The Fox Chase Review at this link: http://www.foxchasereview.org/10AW/MBrown.html

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Diane Sahms-Guarnieri is the Poetry Editor of The Fox Chase Review.

Clear Moon, Frost by Amy Small McKinney

Charles Louden* – The Fox Chase Review 

      Amy Small-McKinney writes from a humble yet intense place turning phrases and the constant drumbeat of metaphors. Small-McKinney celebrates some simple things in life: 

From The Meaning of Life

“I am happy when I find the juicy orange/ I am happy when the sofa is on sale/ happiest when I have not lost my job.” 

From Dillsburg, PA       

“The frogs have begun whistling/ Black Walnut trees, their green globes/ the size of tennis balls, have not begun to shed/ or to make their mess, though they secret walnuts inside.” 

       Small-McKinney brings us back to stark reality: 

From Found

“my house is gray.  All color gone/ I lift up the light. It gathers in my hands” 

From White Poem

“I walked scattered into the worm hand of myself/ I was nothing, I swear only scattered/ ashes before ashes, before the earth/ that refused to receive me” 

Clear Moon, Frost by Amy Small McKinney is available from Finishing Line Press at this link: www.finishinglinepress.com 

You can read the poetry of Amy Small McKinney in The Fox Chase Review at this link:

http://www.foxchasereview.org/09AW/14-ASmall-McKinney.html 

Amy Small McKinney will read her poetry with Leonard Gontarek at The Fox Chase Reading Series, “Featured Poets Reading”, at 3 Sisters Corner Café in Fox Chase on April 24th @2pm. 

* Charles Loudon lives on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia, he is not sure if he lives in Fox Chase or Burholme depending on who he speaks with. He is frequent visitor to the Ryerss Library.

street psalms- collected poems by James D. Quinton

Charles Loudon*

The Fox Chase Review 

         James Quinton has been banging around the small press world for over a decade. His poems have been published internationally on a grand scale, similar to the great American Poet A.D. Winans who is 40 years his senior. Realism is the hallmark of this body of work. Quinton has lived life and it is reflected in his poetry, not imagined or written from what may have been, but from living life.

         Quinton writes in “fresh faced and keen” of a young man working in a chain video store who is new on the job, fresh with enthusiasm, marking the transformation and disenchantment at the end of the poem. “… chained to the counter/ watching the hands of the clock/ taunting him as they move/ very, very slowly”.

        From “the darkness creeps in where there was light” – “… numbly staring, waiting for/ something to/  happen, I’m always waiting/ the angels/ know where I live/ but the/ demons know my name”

       In “between the cracks in the floorboards” Quinton reflects on self imposed loneliness – “ideally I want to exist/ between the cracks/in the floorboards/ out of society/ out of circulation/ absorbing solitude/ behind the door/ of a locked room/ an existence enclosed……. People pass/ they don’t know/ I’m here”

       This collection of seventy poems also marks the growth and transformation of Quinton. Written between 2001 and 2007 he brings us through the events of the everyday, but it is not all dreary.

      From “street psalm (version) – “ the search  for an understanding/ is an invite to all…Marvel at the planet we walk/ and the sky we live under… the late night streets/ indeed everywhere/ alive with beauty and wonder…”

       street psalms- collected poems by James D. Quinton, published by Xplosive Books, isbn: 978-1-4452-0685-1 can be purchased at Amazon by using this link:  Street Psalms

* Charles Loudon lives on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia, he is not sure if he lives in Fox Chase or Burholme depending on who he speaks to. He is frequent visitor to the Ryerss Library.