Friday, November 18, 2022

Damnation and Cotton Candy by Alan S. Kessler - Review

The very first poem, Good Business, told me I was going to like this collection of poems. This poem is commentary on war being "Good Business" and the useless loss of life for greed. At least, that's what I gleaned from it. Very powerful. 

The next standout for me was Waiting. I could not help but believe that this was Edgar Allan Poe himself in the grave. "He returned, not to her, but to belladonna's unfurling black cape. The drinking. The lost life. The forgotten grave."

Insanity was an insightful look into a homeless man's life. "Mothers hold their children close. Others don't see him. He shuffles mumbling."

Gram was very poignant. I did not have a grandmother that I was particularly close with (though I loved both of them), but my mom is a wonderful grandmother to my sons and to my sister's children. I could really see her in this poem. "But Gram loved me, rubbed my legs when they ached, hated the snake forever, the name she gave a 5 year old for pushing me once in a game."

The subtitle of this collection is "Poems best served with hot cocoa, melancholy, and a sharp knife." The latter part of the subtitle I believe is a nod toward some of the more scary poems in the collection. I was struck by The Head (for the kiddies) and Another Poem for the Little Ones (Best read at bedtime). Both brought to mind Stephen King coming-of-age stories, and while reading The Head, I was reminded of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. 

A final mention, and the standout of the entire collection, in my opinion. A page with the title *Mother...a blank page, and then at the bottom "*Some poems don't require words." 
Very much how I feel about my mom. 

This collection was thought-provoking and memorable, and tugged at many heartstrings, and some fears too. I highly recommend it. 

About the collection
The poetry in it is about war, climate, family, childhood, reality, illusion and ghosts — many ghosts; Includes statement poems in free verse and prose that are personal, political, sometimes painful; sometimes a surrealistic convergence of opposites: “…the gray rainbow trails of stone-eyed butterflies.”

About the Author
Alan S. Kessler lives in Vermont with his wife, children, dog, and two cats. He’s authored six novels. Damnation and Cotton Candy is his first book of poetry.

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