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Volume 36.1
Spring 2005

book review:

A New Moon
by Bruce H. Feingold

 

reviewed by Rich Youmans

A New Moon, by Bruce H. Feingold; illustrations by Eona (Winchester, Va.: Red Moon Press, 2004). 78 pages, 8.5 x 5 , paperback, perfectbound. ISBN 1-893959-43-0. $12.00 + $4.00 shipping and handling from the publisher at PO Box 2461, Winchester, VA 22604-1661

In “A Brief Explanation of Haiku for Non-Haiku Readers & Friends,” the concluding essay of his book, A New Moon, Bruce H. Feingold writes,

If these haiku and senryu help you feel deeply about yourself, others, and the natural world, and if you experience beauty and truths that otherwise you might overlook in your daily life, I’ll be satisfied that my poems have been successful.

The ninety-nine poems that attempt this goal are divided into six sections: “Alone,” which offers varied observations about nature, the author himself, and other individuals; “Family & Friends,” the title of which is self-explana-tory; “Berkeley” and “Maui,” two sections dealing with speci•c locales; “A Faintly Smiling Buddha,” which focuses on a friend’s death from cancer; and “White Clouds Floating By,” which seems to contain primarily nature haiku, although this section also contains two poignant memorial haiku for the late Bob Spiess. Interspersed throughout are pen and ink drawings by Eona, an illustrator who lives in Maui.

The collection contains several fine poems, especially among the senryu:

lecture on ego
the Zen professor
tapes himself

unspoiled beach
a beatific blond applies
red toe nail polish

yoga
unfolding
my mind

Yet the poems that best accomplish Feingold’s stated goal are those that com-bine the author’s apparent good humor, his joy in his family, and his apprecia-tion for natural beauty with the poignancy and pain that can be just as much a part of life. For example, compare two haiku—one from “Maui,” one from the grittier “Berkeley” —that each contain a rainbow:

a rainbow sparkles
over the roadside fruit stand :
“Leave Money In Box”

rainswept streets
homeless trumpeters wail,
“Over the Rainbow”

I like both haiku, but the second contains more layers of emotion, and re-mains with me longer. The same holds true for those haiku comprising “Family & Friends.” This section amply displays Feingold’s joy in those close to him, particularly his wife and children. Some of the moments, however, seem more “cute” than memorable:

shadowy forest
around every twist and turn,
my wife shouts, “Bear ! Bear !”

tumbling over
the edge of the bed, shouting,
“ninja turtles”

The last poem in the section reaches beyond simple joy in family life, however:

our will—
in the deepest reaches of
the file cabinet

With such haiku, Feingold should be satisfied that his mission has been accomplished.

 

 

 

 

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