Flapping Soul, Words in Verse, by Marleen Rita Duckhorn, is a poetry collection that focuses on spiritual matters, often from a religious perspective.
The title poem, “Flapping Soul,” explores an extended metaphor: “Flapping souls are like clothesline sheet [sic] / They flap until we die / Until they strike another sheet / And christen wings that fly.” This image embodies Duckhorn’s approach to the soul as something “concise and wise” rather than a thing unknowable or belonging solely to a higher being.
While this thought is crafted with originality, sometimes the poet’s similes are clichéd and the syntax confusing, as if the author were struggling to make end rhymes, as in “Galaxy Supreme”: “The bright galaxy is / As beautiful as a precious jewel / On top of a dark matter setting / Believing in does not take away / Its shock relief is so betting.” The poem goes on to proclaim the well-worn notion that only God can fill the “void of the universe.”
The non-religious pieces in the book are more original, but rhetorically, there is a sameness to this work. Most of the poems, regardless of topic, use a declarative voice. They feel devoid of curiosity, as though the narrator already has the answers. For example, three poems in a row (“Potential Lover,” “Magicians are a Clever Lot,” and “Worship the Sea”) begin with statements of fact: “A potential lover is a thoroughfare”; “Magicians are a clever lot”; and “For people who worship / The conch shell is Lord.”)
The book covers many topics — everything from “A Fishing Lure” to “Ode to Being Homeless” —and the work is randomly presented. The collection would have benefitted from topical sections to lend it an overarching structure.
In sum, many readers may wish for something with more organization, fresher insights and less convoluted language. Those who are in tune with Duckhorn’s spiritual worldview, however, may find some enjoyment here.
Also available in hardcover.