Monty Wheeler’s collection of poems, The Many Shades of Dark was midwifed into the world by Winter Goose Publishing in 2013 and is currently available in soft-cover and Kindle.
An Arkansas poet, Monty has blogged at Babbles since December 7, 2010. In more recent years, most of his poetry has been shared off-line with the congregation at his church.
Monty says he’s “naught but a little old feller living out his days in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.” He says he likes, ‘traditional poetic forms, writing in meter and rhyme, and I strive to keep the art of formal verse alive.” In addition to poetry and writing, he enjoys fishing, hunting, and gardening … the later apparently being a new interest.
Of his blog, he tells us in the subtitle that we’ll find a “sampling of colloquial diction, informal verse in which lacks the convoluted similes and metaphors that too often fill the lines of verse . . . and who says that poetry can’t be just plain fun.”
In reading his book and going backward on his blog to sample a few of the poems he wrote when he started out, I was struck by three consistent characteristics: humanity, growth and honesty. Monty’s writing is genuine. A love of and knowledge of the Bible and his religion is clear in virtually of the themes explored and often in the way he uses language and imagery. One also senses that his idioms, diction, and cadence have their roots as much in geography as they do in the Bible, “colloquial” as he says.
Some of his poems have the feel of horror literature. They deal with the traditional Christian realms of sin, retribution, redemption and salvation. If these themes appeal to you and you like more formal and rhymed styles, you will appreciate The Many Shades of Dark. Clearly, Monty gave much thought to the poems selected for inclusion and the order in which they are delivered.
I was moved by the first poem where Monty remembers his mother’s death and contemplates the pending death of his father. He writes in relatable heart-speak:
I sense the coming loss somehow;
And with his death will come the tears
Of which I’ve fought to hold for years.
Real men don’t cry . . . or so they lied;
And even when my mother died,
I raised the River Tears’ floodgate
And brought that lie a worthy mate.
And ere before Dad’s time has come,
The knowledge that I will succumb
Runs deep and icy cold in me
Like shards of ice that none should see.
Monty’s tasks himself with explorations of illness and death, struggling with issues of faith and hope, of tragedy and triumph, of environmental abuse, and of the …
I’ve unkempt hair and wild-eyed stare;
On paper’s white and callused glare,
My pencil flies like winded kite,
And long into the night, I write!
I brave those murky catacombs,
Where long I’ve locked my tears in tombs,
Releasing each dark fear and fright.
And long into the night, I write.
It’s only through my words, you see
The monsters of my mind set free;
I thank my God the night’s finite!
And long into the night, I write.
The demons of my private Hell
And Satan’s imps I can’t dispel,
Will flee my pencil’s sword-like fight.
How long into the night, I write!
Monty closes The Many Shades of Dark with …
Love’s Day’s End
When sunset settles in your eyes at last,
And when your day is dark as Night’s black skies,
When naught is left ahead and Life has cast
You aside like yesterday’s old lies,
Remember me, remember our long past;
Leave not this world with heavy heart that cries.
And come the day of Death’s assured demand,
We’ll know we lived and loved as God had planned.
© cover art, Winter Goose Publishing, poems and portrait, Monty Wheeler; review, Jamie Dedes