Nicholas Sparkman’s Fractures in a Glass Mind is a collection of free-verse poems interspersed with occasional sketches and photographs that echo the poetry’s subject matter. Topics include depression, loneliness, insomnia, suicidal ideation, and mourning for a lost love.
The work in this volume is honest and candid, fraught with troubled thoughts. “Vigilia,” for example, underscores the author’s angst: “This chaotic state of mind/ That keeps me longing/ For a better time…/ No room left for those who followed/ Into the hell I have achieved.”
The speaker’s distress is clearly conveyed, but while readers may relate to his thoughts, one longs for more reckoning with these strong and difficult emotions as the collection evolves. In the first poem, “Card House,” he laments: “So I shut it all away./ I will not expose my heart./ I cannot free my mind,/ For the world grows colder.” In the final poem, “At the End,” a similar fatalism remains: “Because while my tracks haven’t been covered,/ They seem to float away./ And it goes on day by day./ But I move on/ As my life goes by/ Until the day that I die.”
The poems are general, abstract, and largely redundant in content. While they can be read on an intellectual level, they lack visceral impact, for want of keen imagery and sensory detail. For example, at one point the speaker confides, “When I’m in my darkest hour,/ There’s just no point in prayer…I’m sorry for the times I doubted/ All the bullshit I pursued.” Abstract words like “prayer,” “doubted,” and bullshit” prevent readers from gaining immediate access to the author’s feelings. Similarly, lines like “I’m stuck in the middle here./ All I see is a petty obsession” display more exposition than poetic craft.
In its current form, Fractures in a Glass Mind lacks a satisfying arc to show the speaker’s progression along his emotional journey. Less exposition and more vivid imagery would also elevate the material.
Also available as an ebook.