Sixtro R. Castillo’s collection of musings, Nature’s Nature: From the Heart that Speaks, delivers mixed success in what he describes as an “abstract world of rhythmic poetry and prose.”
At his best, he evokes an authenticity in his depiction of a hard-lived life. In “The Deafening Noise,” he writes: “Sound and echo is all around but the deafening noise is the quiet, when the jungle calms down.” In “I Wish,” the speaker’s hope for redemption contains a plaintiveness: “Tomorrow is not yet promised. Yesterday is gone forever. Lost to the past tense of time. I wish I had no dirty deed to hold, then I would not be considered slime.”
Castillo is much less effective in his tributes to loved ones, which lack the rawness that informs his other work and often feel clumsy and sophomoric. “My Mom” offers greeting card sentimentality: “Moms are all we have and the givers of our lives. They care for colds, infections and even hives, I believe there’s no stronger long love than between mothers and their children who love them to [sic] much.”
Much of this work confronts the speaker’s struggle to turn away from past transgressions and give his life to God. “Where, here, there, under that, or just lock up. Over, under, on top, back down, if you look, He is all around.”
Castillo melds traditional rhyme with more free-form verse, eschewing traditional poetic stanzas and using a block format or paragraphs instead. While the free-form verse is, indeed, liberated from the traditional restraints of poetry, the risk is that it becomes jumbled and the meaningfulness is diluted.
Castillo clearly has stories to tell of a seemingly troubled life and struggle towards salvation, but the author’s effort is uneven. Those who aren’t fans of the genre probably won’t be won over by this collection. But readers with an appreciation for the form can expect to find gems here and there.
Also available as an ebook.