Forty-Five Seconds: A Chapbook by Joschua Beres

Forty-Five Seconds: A Chapbook by Joschua BeresWhile most poetry collections include a contents page, not all include a contents page that reads like a poem. It is testament to the power of Beres’ voice that the titles form a poem of their own.

This collection of ten poems has been compiled from Beres’ opus with the intention something of him “…will survive past my earthy existence and the cruelty of time” and opens with an apology that they have not been polished over and over again. Beres need have no worries on either account.

The collection contains works of various lengths, from two stanzas to over three pages, covering both very personal experiences and world-wide issues, but all united by an underlying joy in language.

wake up!the mystics say.
there is a piece of God inside us all!
somewhere, hiding like some prize
at the bottom of a box of cracker jack’s
so, here I stand, ready before you.
tired. desperate hands
gripping the sink’s edge waiting
to catch an imperfect glance of God.
or the perception of it.

another hour crossed. I chuckle.
perhaps the lighting is bad.

– conversation with a mirror

Contrary to Beres’ fear that the poems are unfinished, they display a deft control of emotion. Both my childhood was always avoiding landmines and under the orange tree deal with complex feelings about a father, but their subjects, domestic violence and honoured death, are very different; that each sounds true showcases not only Beres’ empathy, but also his ability to share it.

His voice is equally mature when speaking of Western Society, or even humanity as a whole. The mixture of theology and informal language in both sun-fed stone and the cult of Democracy hurls out links horizontally and vertically, painting questions as both relevant now and in the long-term, and to us all.

we are 90% water and we are 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit,
get a good fever and that is close enough to boiling
you know, turning into steam.

spontaneously combusting at the wonder of it all

It is this wholehearted embrace of informality that might prove this collections least accessible point. With only light punctuation and almost no capitalisation, readers used to more traditional writing have no easy access to the words below. While this is not the transitory chirp of attention-starved youth, the instinctive identification with text messages might drive away some who would enjoy the words if only they stayed.

Perhaps Beres does not seek their gaze though; maybe even rejects it. we should all live like the atomic bomb sets out a radical thesis that anything of value is an instant seizure of new life; spending hours waiting for a connection might be anathema.

I enjoyed this collection. I recommend it to reader’s who are seeking a collection to pick up and put down, to experience each poem for itself in the time it takes to read it.


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