A Triptych of Reviews




TRACK THIS: A Book of Relationships, Stephen Bett

(144pp, BlazeVOX books, Buffalo, New York)


                          When you take me

                           in your mouth

                           so exquisitely soft

                          (to full //



                          post - arousal

                          Heads over//


                          And I do not mean





As the extract above demonstrates this work is about relationships and relationships under the magnifying glass. In your face - no pun intended, is where Mr Betts would like to put his relationships -a no holds barred - no pun intended, gaze at this subject. Voyeuristic in intent and disturbing as too much red meat. this book hits the spot - no pun intended.


                       Permission (page 54)


                          I give you


                          to do a

                          wondrous and




                          I give you


                          to break

                          my heart


I don't want to give away too much of this book just offer the reader enough to take advantage. But a book worth reading and another good value read from BlazeVOX.





beyond the fire, Mary Leader (86pp, Shearsman)


It's easy to see why Mary Leader has produced two award-winning poetry books and this effort is no less strenuous. These poems are well crafted and dignified in approach.


                        Young woman's potion


                        If the station is long

                        If the princely days are long

                        You will be long

                        You will be uncompromising fidelity

                        I will be fog

                        You will appeal to me


My favourite poem is: They Vibrate on page 15 - which I can't replicate on this keyboard but visually it is interesting and most delightful.


I also enjoyed Winter Grasses on page 74:


                          These we have studied

                          These by their colour

                          Copper Silver Bronze//


                          As these things rouse us

                          And windgrass rouses coyotes

                          As roused their dogs//


                          As crow wingtip riffles

                          As we listen with all of

                          Our ears winter grasses.


Again just a snippet, as the rest is too good to divulge free gratis.





(72pp, Alice James Books, Maine)


Chad Sweeney's poems are works of the imagination. There is a deft touch and melodious undertone from start to finish. There seems to be an unresolved restlessness that transmits to the reader in a direct yet understated way. Here we have 'dreamscapes and translations' a culvert to the transcendental other 'self'. A nuance of inclination and transposition. But gentleness - much much gentleness:


                       PARABLE OF HIDE AND SEEK                   


                        I was a junebug found by a vole.

                        I was a wave ruffled by a wind.


                        I stood in long bank lines

                        I attended the Third Church of the Heretic.//


                        I hid as a bullet fired into hay.

                        I hid as a system of government


                        You were my partner in everything.

                         I lived for you to find me.            



What is executed in these poems is the exposition of the hidden - but not all of it. Secrets are selected and spoon fed - we are let in only so far and no more. These poems view the world through existential longings and faceted equations. There is a dazzle and a flourish - a dance and an explication of time.


Worth a read.


          James McLaughlin 2010