From Dusk to Dawn: The Vicissitudes of Life

Henry Krauss

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 64 Price: (paperback) $18.99 ISBN: 9781664183537 Reviewed: March, 2022 Author Website: Visit »

Henry Krauss’s From Dusk to Dawn: The Vicissitudes of Life is a collection of meditative and existential free-verse, lyric and narrative poems. The speaker reflects on family members he has loved and lost, lessons proffered by the natural world, and his journey living with cancer.

The book is comprised of 30 poems, each paired with a photograph. A typical lyric poem is “The Rose,” which reads: “A light, pink sky at dawn/ akin to a rose/ Stems with sharp thorns/ To protect its beauty?/ Or/ To remind it of its flaws?/ We all have what we think as [sic] beautiful petals/ But/ We also have sharp thorns.”

As with most of Krauss’s lyric poems, readers encounter a person, place, or thing—in this case, a rose—which the speaker raises questions about and then uses as a metaphor for the human condition. There’s sincerity and tenderness here, but the poems’ epiphanies are often cliché rather than fresh; for example, “My Cancer” ends with “Tomorrow is another day”; “The Sullen Girl,” ends with “Still waters run deep.”

“Uncle Al” is typical of Krauss’ narrative poems. It begins: “When we were little, we visited our uncle Al in the Bronx…” It discusses the uncle’s dilapidated living conditions and the trauma he witnessed during WWII (“His friend was decapitated by a grenade/ Brains, blood and bones fell on him…”), concluding: “I looked up to him. I adore him still and miss him.”

As with “Uncle Al,” Krauss’s stories about people struggling in life provide poignant moments. Most of the work, however, uses exposition rather than poetic elements, such as alliteration and rhythm. Many poems deal in abstraction, failing to evoke emotion or otherwise resonate. For example, “Omniscient – Omnipresent” begins: “Energy sparks matter/ An enzyme-a cause/ Action, not Reaction…”

Overall, From Dusk to Dawn is unlikely to attract sophisticated poetry readers. It might be enjoyed, however, by those who appreciate stories about people tested by life.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

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