Lost Soul, a collection of 45 poems by Brett Hawks, presents raw expressions of psychic pain. The subject is a personal journey through loss, rage, and suffering, into darkest depression. Many of the poems also reveal a struggle for societal acceptance. Although there are some hopeful notes, the theme of despair and the black mood of the book relentlessly meet each turn of the page. Titles include: “Adrift,” “Left Alone,” “Lost Reality,” and “The Prince of Darkness.” One slight moment of relief comes in the last poem titled “Everything Will Be Alright.”
To his credit, Hawks has given obvious attention to the structure of the book (he presents a number of poems in series), but he often uses simple, clichÃ©d language. These lines from “Lost Soul Part 2,” suggest Hawks’ style: “I am tangled in a web/ of indecision./ I know not where to go./ I am lost everywhere I turn.”
Short lines and tight rhyme schemes, although appropriate to the tense subject, are overused here. For example: “Though I am a king/ I am a king of hell./ Bringing depression and suffering/ to others with whom I dwell.”
Readers can’t help but sympathize with the author’s obvious anguished state, and Lost Soul is the kind of book that might strike a chord with a deeply alienated audience. Still, it offers little in the way of sophisticated poetic language and no real invitation to the reader to leave a disaffected state. In fact, it may push readers further into the dark side — a place Hawks’ foreboding poems make clear is most certainly best avoided.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.