Review: Through These Eyes by C. Allen Rearick
C. Allen Rearick's poetry chapbook Through These Eyes is an old faded photo album of sorts, a collection of familial and personal memories to penetrate the self. Rearick's journey of self realization is stamped with poetic stories of his childhood experiences. He attempts to find clues of how the boy turned into the man he has become today. He finds comfort in his youth and innocence:
My body slipping slowly
into sleep, satisfied with
the idea that a simple memory
of eating hotdogs
with my cousin while at Woolworth's
would be enough to fill
the aching in my
("Eating Hotdogs With my Cousin")
He draws conclusions about who he is in relation to who his family was or still is. With intimate and poignantly worded memories flitting through his intense poetry, Rearick entices the reader to know him as he begins to know himself. He writes of his many family members, his grandmother, grandfather, mother, father and sister, of their inperfections, their ugly truths, and what has made them human:
I thought about my grandmother
and holiday dinners--
deviled eggs, cranberry sauce,
apple crumb cake.
How, during each meal,
she would circle the table
and get drunk sampling
pie tumbling down unto
("As I Enjoy the Here and Now")
He circles his family's faults in red, yet somehow never shows actual judgement of their actions. He spares them their dignity by not blaming them for their mistakes. Rearick sees himself inside of those mistakes. In the poem "This is What it's Come To," Rearick climaxes this theme of self revelation when he compares his drinking to that of his grandfather. What he reveals is an almost defeat of will. Self abuse has trickled through the family tree and has planted itself firmly on his shoulder:
So much of my mother's father
I always manage to conjure up in myself
when tipping back the bottles.
I should have pulled down my flesh
instead, gotten right to the source, sinew,
chromosomes, genes welded
thickly to white bone, pried them off,
gave them to someone who could actually use the anger.
But I won't, I can't, how can I?
I'm too addicted to myself, it's who I am.
Rearick's lack of anger in this passage leads one to believe that he has accepted who he is through an understanding of who he has come from. An acceptance of one's family becomes the acceptance of one's self.
In Through These Eyes, Rearick's focus is not only on that of his family. Rearick spreads out his attentions to his physical surroundings as well, finding meaning in his emotions by juxtaposing them with other places, creatures, and situations. These poems tend to be Rearick's most humble work, but also his most profound. A certain delicateness can even be found in poems such as "In this City, the Birds are Always Hungry." The tone of this poem is not light, with lines such as "It's death rattles the wind / and the birds scatter like cancer," but the detachment of his words brings a quietness that isn't neccesairily found in his other more memory-filled works. These "detached" poems are more observative, where Rearick pulls the reader back, as well as himself, to contemplate the sadness, loss, and natural urges found in other beings.
In the poem "Within This House I've Come to Love," Rearick writes of his never ending mission to find the answers through observation. He becomes consumed with the notion that his home, his own personal space of security and reassurance, is haunted with the ghost of the previous owner:
I scan cracks in sidewalks, search for reference points
in stones and birds, inhale annotations of his being
spilled on grass and dew, but get distracted
with the way words like apparition, supernatural
and esoteric haunt my tongue.
Through These Eyes is a must read for those who are still on the path to finding themselves, which let's face it, is just about everyone.
C. Allen Rearick's Through these Eyes is part of a collaborative flip chapbook which also features the poet S. A. Griffin. Through These Eyes is published by Tainted Coffee Press and can be purchased at: Zygote in My Coffee
C. Allen Rearick was born in 1978 in Cleveland, Ohio where he still lives. He is the co-author of "From Cali. to Cleve." from Green Panda Press as well as "2" from Green Panda Press. He is also a core member of The Guerilla Poetics Project - www.guerillapoetics.org. His work has been published in such online and print magazines as: Zygote in my coffee, Dogmatika, Identity Theory, Opium, Remark, Mad Hatters' Review, My favorite bullet, Open Wide Magazine, Half druk muse and many more. Visit him online at: www.callenrearick.blogspot.com and www.myspace.com/c_allen