Friday 25 May 2018

Poetry: PAUL BROOKES 'She Needs That Edge'

Book Review of: 
(Nixes Mate Books, 2018, ISBN-978-0-9993971-0-7, 68pp)

Paul Brookes has that edge.

There’s a poem he tells about working a supermart checkout, and an ancient customer who wordlessly processes through, who turns around with parting shot to say his wife just died in the Care Home, no-one else to confide it to, other than the checkout operator.

A world of isolation in that poem’s briefness. Sometimes, words can be so huge that they crush us. Sometimes words are so small they slip through the space between the molecules of being and vanish unheard.

Now, here, there’s more ‘life defined by what is missing.’ These five sequences inhabit the same crawl-way between words. Five vignettes of raging calm. In the first salvo, the absence of dead children aches behind the semblance of normality. He sups and dilly dallies, eyes-up the waitress, ‘rare bloody meat on his plate.’ A life counted out in fridge-magnets. Risqué banter masks needs unsaid, as lives submerge in a slow silt, ‘sometimes a ripple, then a wave.’ Kitchen-sink dramas where dull men ‘need to be chivvied and mithered.’ She might be searching, but she’s not lost. Each line a scar of damage with stories attached. Tales that either play with your feelings, or try to make sense of their own. These are not grotesque warp-spasm poems – although Paul does that too, these are slow tick poems, that worry away at the gnaw of unease, a cancer of grudges that fester, cell to cell, with silence in the creep-space between words.

Sharpened and honed, Paul Brookes has that edge.

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