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Boneshepherds: Poems by Patrick Rosal
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Boneshepherds: Poems

by Patrick Rosal

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The poetry of the American poet of Filipino origin, Patrick Rosal is original and daring. In Boneshepherds. Poems he explores themes of violence and pain. In many of the poems, Rosal looks back to life in his hometown in the Philippines, evoking the fields surrounding the village, while making connections to the more hectic, and dangerous life of crime and violence in his new home, the United States.

Many of the poems in this collection are written in free verse, but retain a natural rhythm and cadence, which helps the reader propel through the poems. The images of anger and pain, are often contrasted with images of beauty from the natural world. About half of the poems approach a prose-like style, narrating as much as evoking images chosen by the author.

While many poems are based on a type of street-kid wisdom, other poems are infused with a religious sense, echoing the cruelty of some stories in the Bible, as, for instance, the crucifixion, in the poem "Man Hanging Upside Down".

Here is a man hanging upside down
from a makeshift cross.

No credible witness can seem to tell us
his name or where he comes from.

Let the record show,
he did lie in at least seven dozen bits,

until the local birds plucked his scraps
from the river. They carried first an elbow,

then a toe, then half a skull and so on,
piecing the body together again

incorrectly: left arm for right,
an eye for a thumb, a moonlight for knees,

until he hung again from the cross
he was nailed to in the first place

at the intersection of Jordan and Faith,
and truth be told, few of us notice

how often those ragtag blackbirds
have come to squawk at every wondow in town.

Who is to say if this man hanging upside down
was corrupt or loved, only that some birds

set themselves in the middle of the night
to the aerial miracle of silt made flesh

a crew of winged scoundrels, some half-mute, half-blind,
that plucked a body's remnants from muddy banks

and at the crossroads of Faith and Truth Be Told
reassembled the figure of a man

who must surely ache, the way he strains to turn
his gaze away from so many nations at once. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Oct 17, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0892553863, Paperback)

"Laced with a hopefulness born not just of Patrick Rosal's tremendous gifts as a poet, but of his humanity."—Terrance Hayes

In his third collection of poems, Patrick Rosal continues his rhythmic march through a world in which violence and beauty mix all too often—a paradoxical world in which the music of Chopin gives way to a knifing, yet the funk of homelessness cannot stifle the urge for human connection.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:13 -0400)

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