Sunday, April 03, 2011


It is hard to believe THE LINEUP is issuing its fourth volume of poetry already. Gerald So was kind enough to give me an advance look since I was a contributor to the third volume.

I think this is the strongest issue yet. I had a difficult time deciding which poem to talk about here. But one poem jumped out at me and that is "Prayer for the Man Who Mugged My Father, 72." Its author, Charles Harper Webb, is a professor, a psychiatrist, and author of poetry collections.

His poem was impressive because of the brilliant way it was organized as well as its command of the language and vivid images. It captured the physical elements of an attack in a stark and affecting way. But it interrupted these passages with remembrances of a son's love for his father.

Nearly every line begins with the word May, a word often used in prayers or in good wishes for someone. "May your day be sunny and bright."

But in Webb's poem, he stands the word on its ear by wishing that the person it's addressed to experience the hurt and harm he's dealt out to the subject's father.

May the bushes where you hid be there again, leaves ripped with razor-blades and acid
May the rifle butt you bashed him with be in his hands.

In this way the subject insists on a cathartic moment for himself, picturing first his father and then himself as taking revenge on this demon. He also captures important moments he and his father have shared.

May those hands, which taught his son to throw a curve and drive a nail and hold a frog, feel like cannonballs against your jaw.

Brilliant images throughout.

Now I would like to contrast briefly the active if not acted upon way Webb's character deals with his misfortune compared to the character in my poem of of last year "Articulating Space," a far less successful poem and passive response to mistreatment.

In "Articulating Space," an abused woman turns her pain inward and loses her mooring altogether. In her case, of course, her victimizer is a husband and not a stranger in the night.

I wish I had written a poem about her articulating her anger rather than absorbing it. But in the meantime, we have Mr. Webb's fine poem to release us.

On April 30th, Keith Snyder will an audio post for this poem, right here.

The Lineup #4 (2011) | What's the buzz?

Edited by Gerald So with Reed Farrel Coleman, Sarah Cortez, and R. Narvaez

Poems by Ken Bruen, Michael Casey, Reed Farrel Coleman, David Corbett, Mary Agnes Dalrymple, Mary Christine Delea, Jeanne Dickey, H. Palmer Hall, Paul Hostovsky, David Jordan, Laura LeHew, Thomas Michael McDade, Peter Meinke, Keith Rawson, Chad Rohrbacher, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Nancy Scott, Kieran Shea, J.D. Smith, J.J. Steinfeld, John Stickney, Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson, Randall Watson, Charles Harper Webb, Steve Weddle, Germaine Welch

Print $7.00 from, or purchase signed copies from Murder By the Book (Houston, TX), Once Upon a Crime (Minneapolis, MN), The Mysterious Bookshop (New York, NY), M is for Mystery (San Mateo, CA).

Library Availability: Library of Congress (Washington DC), The Turtle Lake (Wisconsin) Public Library.


Anonymous said...

Patti - Thanks for letting us know about this new release. Poetry can be such a powerful tool to communicate, and this collection looks terrific.

J F Norris said...

The word "May" might start off several prayers and good wishes, but it also it the word that starts off many a curse. Webb's poem is certainly set up like a very long curse. The worst and most profound curse I have ever heard: "May you be alone in paradise."

Peter Rozovsky said...

Patti, that poem was a highlight of the collection for me, too.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

pattinase (abbott) said...

A very nice collection but that one stuck in my mind. Be interested in your thoughts on it tomorrow.