This peek behind the masks of poet Edward Rhodes reveals a talented wordsmith with keen observation, an appealing sense of humor, and close attention to detail. Although the actual man behind the masks remains elusive, the accomplished poet is clearly on display.
Exploring romantic rejection, dreams, mortality, and everyday observations, the author plays a game of revealing and concealing. For example, in “Baggage,” he reveals a troubled past and work toward healing, but conceals specifics: “Where love and truth remain unspoken / And I walk hardened and unbroken / Upon the gentle road to hell / So, as I lay these things aside / Complete the work in me begun / The worst, it is already done.”
Free verse poems and others with complicated rhyme schemes, including villanelle (“The black cap”), found poem (“Spam”) and ballade (“Ballade of the lost glove”), show fine craftsmanship. One poem, “Summer dress,” describes with delicate imagery and subtle humor the effect one woman’s garment has on him: “Gently falling to her knees / Until, to my profound unease / She sits and makes the hemline rise /The contrast between her perfect thighs / And my imperfect thoughts / I scarce can fail to see.”
Another amusing poem, “Trainers,” examines how sneakers end up hanging from a tree. This clever observational piece explores something many have seen, but few have contemplated, much less written about. “I must admit, they fill me with unease / Waiting there silently, above us all / As though they would remind us that we die.”
Complete with a contents page, index of titles, and index of first lines, this book has style, organization, and structure (reverse chronological order). This delightful collection could be improved only with the development of some of the shorter poems (“Slumber,” “Treasuries,” “Embrace,” “Tee hee hee,” “Ernest”) and a less-restricted view of the emotions behind the intellect.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.