Carly Bryson's Bandana Wasteland
Once again, I’ve been gifted with another finely written mental instrument, this time, in the guise of Bandana Wasteland (copyright 2012 Neopoiesis Press), a collection of poetry by Carly Bryson. Bandana Wasteland is an extraordinary journey through not just the proverbial Texas Heartland, but through the mind and perspective of a sharp-eyed oracle.
Bryson has a unique and quietly powerful expression of voice that makes one want to stop in their tracks just to make sure not a single utterance is lost. Her dead-on observations are weaved into words and visuals so tangible, I found myself walking away with the taste of grit in my teeth and a throat so dry, I ached for a cooling and ass kicking Mai Tai. Her realities are sparse and succinct and she offers them to us in a flat Texas drawl in poems such as, “How the World Ends,” that wash over the reader with sand storm accuracy in lines such as:
“The wind shrieks full circle
tree branches twist in the window.
I burrow deep into my asylum
eyes pried open beneath the sheets.
I won’t be the biographer of the apocalypse
and it won’t come like you think.
No sudden fissures to swallow us up
when we back the car out of the garage.
It will be slow tears in the fabric of the world
we’ll hear them in the background every day.”
While Carly's voice is clearly a feminine one, and one that weaves a fine delicacy into topics not always necessarily appealing, make no mistake; hers is not a sweet and sentimental viewpoint by any means. If you want a simpering saga of broken hearts, lovelorn longings or confessional diatribe, this book is not for you. Bryson's words will hit you not with a pretty parasol, but with a sledgehammer.
In, “Father: Your Son is Not Dead,” whether the intent of the content as I read it was there or not, I felt a sudden death grip on my heart after reading,
"father, your son is not dead, he is dying
each night the eyes appear closed from the loft roof
sleeping princes never die"
and upon finishing these lines,
"worms could crawl across those thin arms
he wouldn’t flinch
little boy, little man
you’d never hear him if he did,
you were always deaf if not blind"
an engulfing, maternal rage combined with a yearning to wrap my arms around the little boy/man referenced here. A voice wielding such physical and emotional impact is a voice to reckon with; it’s a shotgun loaded with verbal bullets hitting their target with unfailing accuracy. All in all, Bryson takes no prisoners with Bandana Wasteland. This is a collection of poetry that a reader better be prepared to get down and gritty with. However, that's ok. You're going to get dirty, but you're going to enjoy it.
Bandana Wasteland, Carly Bryson, (copyright 2012 NeoPoiesis Press, http://www.neopoiesispress.com), ISBN, 978-0983274773, 46 pages, $12.95
Note: This review was originally published in Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House (2012)