Review of “Inverted Reflection”
Poetry by James “Bear” Barrett Rodehaver
Published by Truly Poetic Publishing, Tulsa, OK
James Barrett Rodehaver is an old soul in a young poet’s body; acquainted with deep pain, profound love and wistful mischief. Though young, he is clearly making up for lost time. He’s a literary Merlin, living life in reverse. How else can he be so wise, so weathered and wry?
Inverted Reflections, a collection of 100 poems from the hundreds more this poet has written so far in his young life. He is a walking library of poems, feverishly working to get them all out for open display and examination. Yet, there is nothing passive about these verses. We are about to be challenged and engaged.
Here are some notes on a few of these, written in real-time reaction and response to James’ words:
A Broken Muse - It’s a still life, defining this poet’s medium; his favorite coloring of words, interpretation of objects. He brings forth the spirit of what is seen, infused with the life given by imagination. He lives in the things he sees, possesses them, becomes them.
Bones - It’s clear by now; this poet has a lot to say with no expectation of posthumous celebration of his words, only a desperate hope, a burning need to say it all. He won’t be put in a closet, won’t be ignored. Hear his words “clank together something awful.” Awfully good!
Cosmic Tears - For all the rattle and pain, he speaks with a burning wonder for the great, grand spectacles of life. He appreciates the beauty in all things, is still in awe of the whole creation. He can bring the staggeringly huge, dwarfing, impersonal presence of a sky no one can see all at once down to the most soul-comforting personal expression, “one tear contains the universe.” Beautiful! This poet’s palette is diverse!
Envy the Dragonfly - A toad; pond-bound, watching the dragonflies, so light and free; he can fly higher than any dragonfly could. He makes it plain we dragonflies have a lot to learn about flying.
Infiltration Warning – Here he tips his hand, flashes the mystery card. He is a magician! Our attention is conjured through his words into his vicarious enjoyment; a fluttering white dove, flying for a few brief lines in our minds.
Inverted Reflection - This, the title poem, is the crux of this poet’s matter; the beating of his poet’s heart. His life’s affliction is the pearl that wears against the linings of his mind, “infested with thoughts and ideas” to push out a plethora of pearls. We are compelled to look into his world, “swarming, yet so alone.”
My Monster. (Tonight.) – Now, the magician reveals all. His secrets exposed in open light. He doesn’t seek forgiveness; only disclosure. Reader, be warned! There is such urgency to his prose. He has much to say; apparently time is running out. He draws us into his race. We are all here for a short time and then not here. He reminds us of our riches; encourages us to spend them. He points out our silence; goads us to, “Speak up!”
Penance - He has no fear of eternal judgment, his life is penance for everyone’s sins. He embraces the base and the lofty as one. His huge capacity to love life and all its foibles invokes our complicity. Now, I’m starting to ask myself, “Who is reading whom?”
Signs - He is a signpost, bold-faced statements of being are his message; plain and easy for all to decipher. The only mystery about this poet is how he can possibly say so much. He’s a floodgate, a deluge of ideas and anger and soft beauty and profound insights and teasing laughter. He is standing on the corner of every street, reciting poetry so enticing that we become the beggars who will work for food. He awakens the hunger.
The Last Conversation - Life is a crippled conversation. We are handicapped, yet hopeful dreamers. We want to be talked into death, into the arms of someone on the other side who surely must love us more than anyone down here ever could.
Obviously, James Barrett Rodehaver intends to live forever. Through our reading of his words, a symbiotic, eternal existence ensues.
There area 100 poems here. Read one every night, just before sleep, and James will engage your psyche with profundities and delights for 100 nights. If 100 more readers do the same, then 100 more from each of those . . . well, you get the idea.
Read these poems and live forever.
Mad Swirl Poetry Editor