by James Thomas Fletcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a wondrous example of ekphrastic poetry from Jim Fletcher, a poet who revels in that poetic tradition. Living as he does in Oklahoma with his nature-artist wife, and surrounded by the natural ‘undulations’ he refers to several times, he has ample opportunity for these efforts. For example, in Aegean Sea, a wonderful poem modeled on his spouse’s painting by that name, we find a perfect example of poetry following nature, as nature abhors not only vacuums, but punctuation as well.
This reader is a sucker for alliteration, so Fletcher had me at page 8, Looking Out at The Garden, with his ‘Bluebonnets blaze bold by the bachelor buttons in baby blue beside pinks poking perky in the breeze.’ Granted, a poet may get away with just so much of this, but that is, to my ear at least, simply marvelous. It gets better at the last stanza: ‘Spring peeks in my office window beckoning me to leave my poetry for hers.’
Like that of most poets, Fletcher’s observations differ from those of us prosaic commoners’. Henry James once said that if you must write down what strikes you, perhaps it didn’t strike you. In Fossil II, Fletcher writes of ‘…a slab of rock mostly not buried.’ And of a time when ‘…the flower had not yet invented itself.’ These are striking visions.
A common theme in Wild Seeds seems to be the poet’s wrestling with entropic universal drift, from the macro to the micro. He writes in The Lyrids of a time 2700 years ago, and then to when ‘…Caesar invaded Briton a mere five orbits ago,’ and on to when ‘…the Lyric rocks pummel Terra in April.’ And in History of The Great Herds he hints at an entity in ‘…vast herds…no one sees them alone and settled.’ The poet doesn’t name whatever it is that constitutes these vast herds, forcing the reader’s imagination wide. From there, the subject dwindles, until we’re left with nothing more than ‘diaspores…weighing nothing.’
Favorite poem? Tough call, but probably American Night, Fletcher’s ‘filmic vision’ of a routine, lights-out Oklahoma stormy night, where ‘lightning takes a negative of the scene,’ and the poet revels ‘…alone to direct the night.’ Or perhaps Walking to School, a sweet little poem that will resonate with anyone of a certain age. Fletcher reifies real people, ‘…Mr. Mayes, and Mr. Spencer, and Miss Dryden,’ people who the poet allows to Wallenda across the pipeline of his life. And who knew that ‘Wallenda’ was a verb? Good stuff. Fletcher’s best yet. Five stars.
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Wild Seeds: James Thomas Fletcher