Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Review: Closer, poems by Christopher Stephen Soden

Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Queer Mojo – A Rebel Satori Imprint
Pages: 126

Closer is a collection of sixty-two poems by gay writer/poet Christopher Stephen Soden. These gems sparkle on the page, little snapshots of a gay man’s life, experiences, hates and loves, frustrations and joys.

I am no expert on poetry, and seldom read poems by any author, but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. The writing is vivid, powerful. The poignant observations behind each poem seemed like a leaf from my own life, things I related to, only  couched with such beautiful prose that I often felt mesmerized, reading many of them over and over just to wallow in Soden’s beautiful wordplay.

Excerpt from Cowboys:
Lives would be taken judiciously:
Rustlers, horse thieves, cardsharps.
We would learn to recognize by blanket,
paint and bracelet,  the Indians
we could trust. You and I take turns
crooning the cattle to sleep,

swap dreams by the red and purple
watchfire after supper, snore together,
arms tangled in a careless net
of reassurance, under a vast
milk splash of throbbing stars.
In the morning lather the other’s back,
if we could find a spangly brook.

Soden masterfully explores gay sexuality, virility, and maleness, from the old west to ancient Greece. I found it an exotic ride through a vivid landscape that was at once fresh and familiar.

Excerpt from Reprieve:
God scatters and casts us away, far, far
from reconciliation and mercy. Flailing
in a quagmire of apathy and retaliation.
Ignorance. Sailing headlong into deepening
waves of nightfall. God’s orphans shivering
in the undertow of November. Then, suddenly

snow. Drifting patiently to gleaming heaps
of crystalline sheaves. Coating everything
in a veil of blamelessness. Flawless star
flakes aloft on airstream, tickling nose,
ear and lash, delicately covering the head
like astonishing, weightless benediction.

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