Friday, May 18, 2018


I have been reading Chimes, a new book of poems by my friend of many years (and fellow Englishman!) Michael Dennis Browne. Selected from the output of more than fifty years of work, they are short, some of them not more than a single page, many of them blending haiku brevity and clarity with the mysterious and sometimes confounding opacity of a zen koan. I am attracted to brevity. In the case of a poem, it invites the reader beyond itself into the space and silence that surround the words on a white page. If we read with full attention, then we, the readers, are drawn into our own richly rewarding space of contemplative silence.

These short poems speak of intimate things; of family--brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons. They speak of the beauty of nature when observed, inhabited up close; of the art of poetry; and of deeper, murkier realms of emotional resonance, like love, and loss, and death. The "Chimes" of the title--this is my guess--are echoes of memory from childhood days, those intense moments that "ring our bells," opening unexpected doorways and setting off pleasing reverberations in the mind. This poet is attuned to their peculiar and poignant music, and his poems are each musical compositions in themselves, songs and dances that enchant with their subtle rhymes and rhythms even as they bemuse. Their seeming light touch is deceptive; their reach, profound.

I suspect that many poets have their secret storage closet of intimacies like this one. I'm glad this poet opened this one up.

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