Book Review, Think of Me Now and Then by Perien Gray
Perien Gray of North Caroline, whose Think of Me Now and Then, was loaned to us by our daughter, Lorraine, also of North Carolina. She observed me reading the book during a Thanksgiving visit to Maine, and finally I told her I’d go online and buy a copy.
Lorraine said she’s loan me hers.
Which was nice, because I do enjoy poetry, unlike what male Maineiacs are supposed to enjoy. ‘Untin’, fishin,’ snowmobiling, driving your pickup through thin ice on the lake and being embarrassed, and other stuff is what male Maineiacs are supposed to enjoy. But I’m not originally from the Pine Tree and Mosquito State, so I allow myself a few other pleasures.
One of which is good poetry.
Which is where Perien Gray enters the picture.
“The Dog Considers His Past and Future,” one of Gray’s more positive and unique poems, reads,
“Every so often as I lie here in my bed
which smells so deliciously of me
I become pensive, remembering
the day I ran off with you, little thinking
I would never see my family again.
I remember that awful night in your house
alone in the dark in the cave of my crate
which now has become so familiar and safe
but then was a prison I’d never escape.
I cried aloud,and louder. When you came
you were angry and I, I growled,
and then repented.
That was the first night.
“Now I have become attached to you and return your kisses.
I eat your food and let me stroke me everywhere
and am willing for you to be
the one person in my life
as I am the one dog in yourss.
I give you my paw when you ask
and lie down at your feet.
I wait at home for you all day
and express my joy at your return.
“I wonder about my mother.
I wonder how my brothers and sisters have fared
and if someone loves them as you love me.
I wonder if I should have come when you called...
“I may sit and I may stay...
But will I ever heal?
“Rub my belly?
Yet, like all her poems I read, which I think was all or most of the 78 poems in the book, while this one shows some love, acceptance, and pondering, it also shows some negative, “But will I ever heal?”
Gray’s poetry has a lot of good circumstances all of us ponder during our day, but for me there is too much negative emotion.
“Backing into the Future” does that, saying that “we” tend to think and feel “In figurative terms we are more precisely walking backward into the future. After all, we can really see clearly only the past that is behind us and only guess at the road that lies ahead,” Gray borrows from David Colman, NY Times.
It’s true, we tend to look forward to a more glowing future than was our actual past, although too many folks I know deal heavily in “the good old days,” the days when your tire actually went flat at the moment it goes flat, the carburetor went into vapor lock mode and you were lucky if you had your fishing rod with you when it did, and you had to get up from the couch to walk to the TV to turn to the three channels. Your shoes were leather or canvas and became wet or hot or cold.
I like these “better now days,” when our Toyotas always start the first try even on the coldest mornings, when we hit a button on the remote to change the TV settings, and when we can purchase a new DVD player when ours breaks -- as it did last night -- from Amazon in ten minutes.
I like my warm, waterproof shoes and boots and my cool walking and hiking shoes.
So perhaps my negative response to Gray’s negative poetry comes largely from my own mindset.
And her poetry is well written, except, being a worn-out writer and English teacher myself, I’d like to see a few more commas and thingies like that put to good use in her works.
But she covers all those life emotions with ”Perfectly Profound,” “The Whole Truth,” “On Buying a New Car and the Uncertainties of Life,” and “What I Meant to Say.”
I recall the first new car I bought and the guilt feelings that I bought with it. Why should I be buying a brand new car when so many other can’t?
We have bought two new cars in the past two years, and we’re glad we did. Buying new is actually so much more practical than taking over someone else’s piles of problems.
Her final “What I Meant to Say” is so pertinent and to the point. We’ve all said or thought that idea.
But in “Last Dirge,”
“When the last crumb of soil has been paved,
when the last flickering flame has turned to ash,
“when the last snake has slunk into its hole,
the last tear long since fallen, long since dried,
“the last word murmured, the last breath exhaled,
when the last breeze has passed, and slowed and still---
“the earth will spin, prickly with church spires,
studded with skyscrapers jutting from its crust,
spin into darkness, into blackest space
like a pebble dropping down a bottomless well ---
“When the last sigh has faded, when the last
regret cannot be spoken nor be heard...”
Gray, in my opinion, expresses her typical emotions. I’d like to be more positive, but who knows how things will turn out at the end of the day or the week or the life.
To know Gray’s story may help explain her perspective: “Perien Gray has been at times a mother, three times a wife, a potter, counselor, cellist and pianist, reader, ponderer. She lives in Asheville, NC with her dog Allegra, sustained by many close friends, by the challenges of writing poetry, aging and Parkinson’s disease, and by ever mutating insights into the nature of life. She assures us that everything in this book is at least 95% true, allowing less than 5% for poetic license and because the poem insisted on having its way,” states the book jacket.
Searching ten pages into www.Xlibris.com, Xlibris Corporation, a self publishing company did not lead me to any information about Gray’s book, but you can e-mail Orders@Xlibris.com or phone 1888-795-4274 for price, other information, or to order your own copy.
Self publishing? A lot of writers these days do it.
After all, Gray’s is in print. None of mine are.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012