An infectious exuberance and generosity of heart is on display in Writings From the Spirit, by Peter Benjamin LeBuhn. Ardent, bold and passionate, the poems fall into two broad categories: devotional pieces expressing the poet’s love of God, and love poems that are by turns yearning and pensive or earthy and sensuous.
At his best, LeBuhn is enthusiastic and voluble, bubbling with energy and desire, whether remarking on a beautiful woman’s “pirate smile” or noting “a glass-smooth pond / where frogs croak of coming-out parties, their graduation from frisky / tadpoles to squat green frogs.” And there is, on occasion, an appealing and gentle humor, as in: “I want you to warm your hands up in the back pockets of my jeans. / I want you to pay me with your kisses for the rental of my jeans pockets.”
Unfortunately, all too often the reader is given generalities and cliches rather than engaging, telling details. Lines as awkward and flat as “Seeing you from across the room / For you now I swoon” or “This is an Amazing moment in time / Truly an Amazing moment in time” bring the joy and drive of the poems to a dead stop. Nor are things helped by the use of such cliches as “ruby lips” or “shimmering sands.” There are also a number of lines where the grammatical sense has simply been lost: ”By the hands of what stylist could have painted this picture?” or “Let it calm down good storm, / And which I keep watch as you sleep and rest.”
LeBuhn’s cheerful Ã¨lan and breathless verve allow for the beginnings of a poet’s voice. Now he needs to look ever more closely at the world he so clearly loves in order to put the detail of his life into compelling words and images.