Hearing Eye, 2006 - £3.00
DECADES AFTER his first published poem appeared in Paris Review, Donald Gardner is as irreverent as ever. The sea is not the only thing that glitters in this delightful collection of sly poems that delight with their honesty and humour. Gardner loves life, loves to laugh, and makes firmly unpretentious poems that murmur playfully between lines and behind stanzas, reminding us that joy can be found in the most unlikely places and that beauty is definitely not in the eye of the beholder but perhaps has taken up residence on park benches.
Under Gardner’s winking gaze, the Amsterdam Zoo becomes a conceptual work of art where the snake exhibit lacks “an intellectual dimension” and a dangerous icy street hosts a post-modern ballet where “trepidation did the splits” and bikes were “wavering in good will”, while others “did their best just standing still.” Even when he turns from descriptions of everyday glitz to more sober exposés of darker moments, he speaks with an amiable honesty that breathes hope.
Three sober poems, ‘Parts of Speechlessness’, ‘Dust Sheet’ and the ballad ‘The Glittering Sea’, come swiftly on the heels of a rambling and quietly joyous poem praising NYC’s Central Park for its late winter abundance large enough to hold ecstasy springing alive in this “age of limited possibilities/ where we negotiate our free moments like small change.” The three poems that follow the rapturous “Central Park Vistas” reflect the events of 9-11 and all that followed, but with an isolating gaze rather than with rage. In states of emergency, fences are down. Prepositions go into hiding and
waving a flag
and waving goodbye
become for the time being
one and the same thing.
Perhaps the time has come for all to stop waving those flags, stop waving good-bye and, like Donald Gardner, start shouting joyous hellos to the beautiful world that gently supports us all. Before it’s too late.
The Common Reader says of The Glittering Sea: Some poems in this collection were a bit lengthy for me. I struggled with ‘Dancing with an Octopus’ and ‘Central Park Vistas’ but then I’ve never danced with an octopus or been to Central Park. I really liked ‘Questions to Ask when it’s Love at First Sight’ because it is touchingly silly but very believable. I felt slightly guilty as I smirked my way through ‘Bicycle on Ice’ enjoying the description of the young woman trying to control her bike on ice. It’s like laughing when someone walks into a lamp post but this is more sophisticated ●