“I live in the all the time of my life,” states Lawrence W. Manglitz in an essay towards the end of this book of poems and prose poems. By this, he means that the past inexorably overlays the present, and that his memories form an “imprint” so strong that they color his reflective moments. Congruent to this belief, most of Manglitz’s poems involve recollections—of his youth, family, journeys to the Mideast and Spain, loves and erotic liaisons—and, given his perspective of an older man looking back, most involve a sense of poignancy and loss.
This is the work of a mature poet who, at best, knows how to interweave disparate metaphors and motifs so they coalesce to a powerful whole. In his exquisite poem, “A Breath,” for instance, he melds the prosaic renovation of a house with the idea of an abandoned nest and the death of baby birds, and a meditation on breath. In another poem, the “voiceless woods in shadows” and a seasonal pond form a backdrop for a reverie on the assassination of Lorca and the transience of life. Most of the poems are written in free verse with an occasional rhyme for emphasis.
When Manglitz falters, it seems prompted by his desire, perhaps, to reconstruct the past precisely. He lists in one poem all the places he’s visiting (“Casablanca, Palma Majorca, Naples,” etc.), an unnecessary diversion that lessens the impact of the passage. In another poem, he designates the address of his grandparents’ house (“1751 Alto Street”), a detail that can have no memorable impact on readers.
Manglitz also repeats many of the same images throughout his poems and actually iterates one poem twice in the book, with just a few slight changes. Although these returns may constitute, in themselves, motifs of memory, they can be wearying for readers.
Overall, however, Intimate Disclosures is a skilled and thoughtful offering. Readers will find it well worth their time.
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