Jack Henry’s poetry is very much engaged with life and not scared to address issues that many of us prefer not to talk about. Many of the poems bring us encounters with people who are often overlooked by poets. There are many poems here about Los Angeles, its bookshops and pawn shops, churches, liquor stores and rivers. Poems about family, love lost and re-found, connections made, addiction, need and unemployment, US and world politics. He is sometimes angry, as in three lines in:
perhaps if you buried
into a mound of
red ants you might understand
though he can also be lyrical as in N’Orleans mornings:
houses where ghosts
play cards and remember
through trees whispering
on forgotten wind
Spanish moss plays
gentle tricks on my thoughts
A lot of the poems are full of rich detail such as the bookstore on Bleeker Street:
she had a one-eyed cat
with a bent tail and Tourettes syndrome
that ate tuna from the can and
old artichoke hearts on a chipped plate
Jesus appears in many of these poems, and in Jesus of Los Angeles has his own series of poems and he could be anyone, which is of course the point.
This is not poetry for those of a nervous disposition or those who are easily offended but I can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone else.
with the patience of monuments will be published by Neopoisesis Press in August 2009
You can read a couple of Jack Henry's poems on Bolts of Silk here.