homeeditorsreviewsessaysmhbooksissues

Volume 42.1
Winter 2011

 

book review:

More Wine
by William M. Ramsey

Reviewed by Paul Miller

More Wine, by William M. Ramsey (Winchester, Va.: Red Moon Press, 2010). 64 pages; 4.25 x 6.5. Glossy four-color card covers; perfectbound. ISBN 978-1-893959-91-0. Price: $12.00 + s&h from the publisher at <http://www.redmoonpress.com>.

The follow-up to his first collection, This Wine, is also broken into thematic sections that lead the poet/reader through an emotional landscape—although why some poems are in certain sections wasn't always clear. Ramsey is very aware of the disconnections of life, and the tenuous threads we build to try and bridge them, so perhaps the occasional mis-placed poem is his way of reinforcing that point. Intentional or not, it does serve to that effect, keeping the reader slightly off guard, which is nice in a collection in which the poet is struggling with the same issues of connection and being. The book's six sections are labeled "soul," "faith," "hope," "compassion," "fate," and "reincarnation," and each section contains seven poems for a total of forty-two. The section breaks themselves are poetry. The sections titled "soul" and "faith" are headed thusly,

soul: one's trapped song released through flute holes

faith: accepting the wave, a dying seal’s flipper

Two poems from “faith”:

  even frost
along the privy path
  knows the way

  cracking in two
to climb out of self—
  bean seedlings

I find the second haiku especially appealing because many of the poems in the collection deal with longing for another human being. Surrounded by those poems, it is hard not to see a concern for personal identity as part of a pair. Faith indeed. The poems of longing can be quite beautiful:

  not letting go
the piece of honey
  on your lip

  In which chamber
of your heart, beloved,
  is our bed?

Despite the romantic and comforting abstractions of “soul,” “faith,” “hope,” etc., he is too human to be fully blinded to their fragility.

   dogs mating in rain—
pausing to consider
   their point of view

   a snowflake
melting into the stream—
   our brief connection

Ramsey has a gift for picking the right words and placing them with- out embellishment to create solid moments. Some close nicely with realization, yet others stay open, unanswered.

  i am an island
stepping to the edge
  to discover shape

How like life.

 

 

© 2011 Modern Haiku • PO Box 930 • Portsmouth, RI 02871-0930