At their best, the poems in DJI Smith’s Sinceria display energy, conviction, humor and a desire to entertain his reader.
There is a fine spark of humor and imagination in “Melanie’s Lullaby,” for example, a short poem addressed to a child who is having trouble sleeping. Smith writes of ”A big rainbow Parrot and her name is Glow / Tho’ she has a problem that makes her talk slow. / Just listening to her makes the King fall asleep, / Glow starts a speech and he collapses in a heap.” The poem ends with the hope that the parrot will help the little girl sleep as well.
More ambitious are a couple of longer narrative poems: “Crossbone Skulduggery,” a pirate story, and “Tales of the Troubadour.”
“Tales of the Troubadour” follows a band of heroes led by an honored warrior named Coven as they attempt to rescue Coven’s son and the King’s son, who have been taken prisoner by a rival kingdom. Stretching out, Smith delivers a fairly large cast of characters, entangling them in alliances, rivalries, loyalties and betrayals.
While “Tales” gains from the fleshed out characters and plot, this poem displays a serious and consistent problem with Smith’s poetry. Most of it uses some sort of rhyme scheme that results in such tortured syntax as: “Being trapped in here with you disgusts me, / If alone then here captured I wouldn’t be. / I shall never help you or any of your family, / An animal here in captivity, much rather dead I’d be.” This kind of forced effort to maintain a rhyme stops readers dead in their tracks as they try to follow such a pretzel-like sentence.
Smith has the makings of a poet but needs to spend more time working on his craft. Honing his skills at rhyming, as well as stanza construction and meter, would go a long way toward making the poetry more enjoyable for readers.