Neil Babcox -
This review is from: I should have given them water (Paperback)
I picked up this book after hearing Eileen Malone author read from it -- and am I glad i did. Poem after poem in this volume lopped the top of my head off. These poems are full of gorgeous darkness and soft light. They are mystical and, at the same time, immersed in this world. One moment the reader catches a glimpse of a Fra Angelico angel wing and in another a large man with "an Easter Island head." Animals, children, and homeless men and women are Malone's spiritual messengers as they appear in gardens, city streets, public bathrooms, canyons and wharves, all struggling in various degrees of relationship and deterioration.
The first two poems of the book powerfully illustrate the fusion of the mystical and the totally-down-to-earth qualities of Malone's poetry. The first, "More Like Angels," is set in a public restroom "aspirin white ... where the scent of pine is denser than that of urine ." It doesn't get much more down to earth than that. In the second poem, "What It is to Gamble," the reader is ushered into a church gulping "air aromatic with frankincense [and] snuffed candles." In the public restroom we encounter "crack-addled prostitutes" and others, more like angels. In church, we join the holy crapshooter who knows "on the first roll of the dice, nothing is required of me and then everything."
Malone's language is richly evocative throughout. For example, a canyon "powders us with a fine dust of dried menstrual blood." Other examples: "she slashes the cataract of heaven's eye;" hair "the color of rotting hay;" and "the night continues to speak in tongues above our heads, chitters and snaps and cracklings clamor the syllables." I could go on and on.
I am putting "I Should Have Given Them Water" on a select place on my bookshelf with a few books of poetry I will return to again and again. I highly recommend it.
Causes Eileen Malone Supports
National Alliance on Mental Illness; Caminar; National League of American Pen Women; National Writers Union; Northern California Book Reviewers