From Library Journal
This poet's fifth book is as notable for its moral gravitas as for its lyrical grace. Blumenthal meditates on fatherhood, personal history, love, loss, and gain as intertwined threads of life's mingled yarn. "Elegy for My Mother: The Days," the centerpiece of the book, is a major poem that, while speaking from personal experience, moves us by addressing the human condition at its most essential. Stylistically, the verse shows a colloquial ease that never declines into prosy slackness; his point of view is personal without being overly self-referential. Blumenthal credits the unhappy prospect that "the wages of goodness/ are oblique and obscure, and not even assured/in some happy ending," yet affirms the need to "keep singing into the light of this darkening world." A fine book.
- Frank J. Lepkowski, Oakland Univ., Rochester, Mich.
Michael gives an overview of the book:
From Library Journal
The Difference Between a Child and a Poem
If you are terrified of your own death,
and want to escape from it,
you may want to write a poem,
for the poem might carry your name
into eternity, the poem
may become immortal, beyond flesh
and fashion, it may be read
in a thousand years by someone
as frightened of death as you are,
in a dark field, at night,
when he has failed once again at love
and there is no illusion with which to escape
the inward pull of his own flesh
against the narrowing margins of the spirit.
But, if you have accepted your own death,
if you have pinched daily the corroborating flesh,
and have passed the infinite gravestones
bearing your name, if you know for certain
that the day will one day come when you
will gaze into the mirror in search of your face
and find only a silence, then
you may want to make a child, you may want to push
the small oracles of flesh forward
into some merely finite but lengthening story,
you may want to toss your seed into the wind
like a marigold, or a passion fruit, and watch
as a fresh flower grows in your place, as your face
inches onto another face, and your eyes
slip down over your cheeks onto the forehead
of your silenced, speakable future.
And, then, when you are done with all that,
you may want to write a poem.
Michael Blumenthal graduated from the Cornell Law School with a J.D. degree in 1974, after studying philosophy and economics at the State U. of New York at Binghamton. His seventh book of poems, And, will be published by BOA Editions in May, 2009. A graduate of...