Joseph Bartley Haltom III’s Love, Time is Gone is a collection of free-verse lyric poems followed by five micro-essays that directly address or otherwise reference the object of the speaker’s enduring affection. The author’s dedication, to a woman named April, sets the tone: “Forgive me April. I’ve always been desperate to know you, and have sought you out all these years we’ve been separated…I’m madly in love with you for all of eternity whether we both can make peace with that or not.”
Each of Haltom’s poems and prose pieces echoes these sentiments in some way. For example, the poem “Not a Day” notes: “There wasn’t a day,/ I didn’t love you-//[…] I seek release,/ To slip into your heart-/ So that we may never part…”
The speaker’s emotions become progressively more volatile and intense as the collection progresses. In one poem, the speaker proclaims joyfully, “You light my soul,/ Brightly with your wonder…”; in the next, he laments, “All I do is weep,/ It’s another day without you”; and in the next, a more erratic tone emerges, accompanied by emphatic capitalization: “April, You My Queen Are My Dream-/Insane it sounds; like, it’s been a long time coming…//And it has,/ It drives me-/Mad…”
Readers are likely to feel a growing discomfort with the poet-speaker’s singular fixation on April. Additionally, because concrete and contextualizing details are scant, the poems fail to depict April or the speaker as distinctive individuals. We never learn of their interests or life experiences, for example, or the circumstances of their meeting and the nature of the relationship they actually shared. This makes the collection more abstract than affecting.
Overall, Love, Time Is Gone seems written more as an artifact of the author’s need for self-expression and catharsis than a literary text crafted with readers in mind. The work requires revision to incorporate more vivid and specific details to serve as narrative markers in order to attract an appreciative audience.
Also available as an ebook.