The Glowing River  by Jack Myers 
Invisible Cities Press, 2001 (ISBN 0967968399)

       Reading any Jack Myers poem is like sitting in on a freshman course in Introductory Psychology.  His writing rarely strays toward the Abnormal Psychology of poets like Sylvia Plath and John Berryman or the Psycho-pharmacology of the Beats.  However, each piece reaches into the average human mind and picks at the flaws, the confusion, the odd sort of play between faith and faithlessness. 
       In The Glowing River: New and Selected Poems, Myers paints a landscape of self-doubt and self-discovery.  When he stumbles over his words, he makes his missteps poetry.  He writes about his personal quirks with the ease of a man who has grown comfortable having them in his head.  He shows us that comfort and quirkiness with this scene in "The Never-Mind Life":

       After dropping a tranquilizer on the rug,
       which coated it with hair and dust,

       I blew it off and, instead of taking it,
       I put it back in the jar and shook it twice.

       This way I made sure I'd never know
       when I'd choose the dirty one again.

       Myers poems rarely sing, but always sort of hum in the throat like groggy meditations, short bursts of cynical laughter.  His work seems to fit neatly with the works of poets like Billy Collins and Linda Pastan.  Its power is in its simplicity, catching a scene with all its psychic baggage revealed, as in his poem "Smoke Break":

       The students walk by me, their destinies
       morphed into faces like homework
       on how the journey's been so far.
  
       I seem to be invisible to them.
       So most of me must look like
       what I am in the world.

       In reading The Glowing River, one begins to understand that Myers teaches through experience.  He is thinking and remembering aloud, sometimes seeing and describing the beautiful outward moments as in "Before Making Love to Me,":

       blue air. She is against me now, as we
      
       move toward making love. The silence,
       over the slow explosion of ourselves

       rises and falls like blows.

at other times sinking into a more compelling inwardness the way he does in "As Long As You're Happy":

       What I thought was an ethical problem
       of existence was just a broken heart.
       The woman for whom I have ransomed
       my wife and children would like to erase
       the past. I would like to gather them all,
       please, under one roof, one heart.

       At 130 pages, The Glowing River provides a week's worth of interesting reading.  The poems, pulled from four previous books and with a section of newer work, allow for a sort of comfort in the reader.  They say, "This is how I am," and the reader wants to reply each time, "Me too, me too."  Even the unusual Invisible Cities Press cloth/hardcover binding of this book with its muted colors and subtle, faded imagery adds a sort of nostalgia for children's books or old texts on the shelves of a high school library.  Everything about this book is overwhelmingly likeable.
       Recommendation: Buy it.  Read it.  Experience it.  'Nuff said.  Go on, already. Order it now before you forget.  You know how you are about these things.
THE GLOWING RIVER by Jack Myers
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Reviewed August 7, 2002
Book Reviews by Ace Boggess
TAR
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