MONTY WHEELER: The Many Shades of Dark

coffee-1Monty 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.”

TheManyShadesofDark_3D-881x1000In 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 …

Poet’s Sword

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

Natasha Head: “Nothing Left to Loose” & “Pulse”

Natasha Head, Poet & Writer, Nova Scotia
Natasha Head

Canadian poet Natasha Head (The Tashtoo Parlour and, along with Roger Allen Baut, The Creative Nexus™) is the author of three poetry collections.

 

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Natasha says she …

“has been weaving words since I was but a wee lass running with crayons and scribblers …”

… and she continues with her poems online along with Running With Crayons, her whimsical art

Natasha’s debut poetry collection was Nothing Left to Loose (Winter Goose Publishing, 2012)  It was a Pushcart Prize nominee. A year later – almost to the day – Pulse (Winter Goose Publishing, 2013) was launched, the second of her three collections. Natasha’s third collection is Birthing Inadequacy (Lulu, 2014).

Nothing Left to Lose is a collection of self-contained poems that tell the author’s personal story of everyday difficulties, disillusionment, and disappointment to which we can all relate. Ultimately it is about trial and transformation, which is the essential theme of both books.

Trapped between what was, what
is …no movement; fear
holds me motionless.

All directions equal no choice, as
fear gives way to chaos …
enslavement.

What needs to be done, I
don’t want to do, my thoughts
constant, my nightmares

real, feeling force, breaking
pressure, resisting to the point
of stagnation

Static, Natasha Head in Nothing Left to Lose

Pulse is a short epic, a narrative stream of poems that together form a modern-day odyssey of a family caught in a web of prostitution and abandonment, alcohol and drugs, delusion and deceit. When the worst happens to the young woman who is central to the story she is wrapped in silence … at first unchosen and then embraced … In this silence appears the potential for her to reinvent herself. She is being tested. Will she answer the call to transformation?

Pulse is a dramatic fiction, but I didn’t find it melodramatic or manipulative, which it could have been in hands less skilled than Natasha’s. The poems here are lucid and direct. The language is plain and mostly understated, interesting in its relative coolness juxtaposed against the girl’s grit as it unfolds.

There is nothing worse
than waiting in the dark,
no distraction,
alone.
Mother trying her best
and she
ducked low
in the furthest corner
of a forgotten closet
where she was safe to shine the flashlight
on ancient magazines
and little golden books
where she would realize
there was no such thing as fairy tales,
and princes never stayed.”

Sal, Natasha Head in Pulse

© 2016, review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reservedportrait, cover art, and poems, Natasha Head/Winter Goose Publishing, all rights reserved ~ used here with permission

Monty Wheeler’s Debut Collection Has Arrived from Winter Goose Publishing

coffee-1Monty Wheeler’s collection of poems, The Many Shades of Dark,  was midwifed into the world by Winter Goose Publishing. An Arkansas poet, Monty has been blogging at Babbles since December 7, 2010.

Another one of our own (a poet-blogger, that is), 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.”

TheManyShadesofDark_3D-881x1000In 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  many of the themes explored and often in the way he uses language and imagery. A man of the South, 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, but essentially they deal with the traditional Christian realms of sin, retribution, redemption and salvation. The collection ends with a simple, upbeat beauty. If these themes and styles appeal to you, you will absolutely love 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 particularly 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 poems speak of illness and death, of struggling with issues of faith and hope, of tragedy and triumph, of environmental abuse, and of the …

Poet’s Sword

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 book as gracefully as we all hope to close our lives:

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.

Bravo, Monty, and congratulations. Both my thumbs up on this one …

© 2013, cover art, Winter Goose Publishing, poems and portraits, Monty Wheeler, All rights reserved
© 2013, review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved