The Sawdust War: Poems

Jim Barnes, Author University of Illinois Press $14.95 (117p) ISBN 978-0-252-06239-1
The calm in Barnes's ( The American Book of the Dead ) voice in these poems bespeaks weathering a significant share of life's vicissitudes while developing an acute appreciation for the myriad curiosities of existence. In ``Soliloquy in My Forty-seventh Year'' the poet takes stock of his journey through life and decides that he ``shall not walk softly to atone, / nor in anger move my own, but shall . . . kiss the dust and touch the stone . . . and sing clear and swill / the late life come dumb into my trust.'' The passing of time and its veiling effect on the events of our lives is a central, often unspoken theme. In ``Skipping'' Barnes acknowledges that in our recollections ``the faces come up wrong'' and ``the facts are a reconstruction of no consequence,'' yet in the process of living we acquire practical, aesthetic and emotional skills--like skipping stones--that, once mastered, ``you never lose the knack of.'' These are beautiful memory pieces about growing up, traveling and being a poet, poems with lovely, concise imagery and philosophical asides that are insightful, unobtrusive and entirely true-to-life. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 12/01/1991
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