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Doug Holder

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Wrestling Angels: Poetic Monologues by Freddy Frankel
By Doug Holder   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, March 28, 2011
Posted: Monday, March 28, 2011

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Review by Irene Koronas

Wrestling Angels: Poetic Monologues by Freddy Frankel

Wrestling Angels
Poetic Monologues
Freddy Frankel
Ibbetson Street Press
ISBN 978-0-9795313-7-8
2011 $14.00

“Abraham takes my hands unschooled
in love to brush them with his lips.
Passion wrinkled and approximate...”

Frankel's poems; each vertebrae connects the verses, the reader is then
invited to join the monologues; “you made me in your image, without cunning,”
making a complete body of poetic work:

“...He admires Esau, loud, rebellious;
leans toward him, craves his brash
assertiveness. I lean toward
the gentler Jacob, he shows me
love, the only one who does”

Wrestling Angels, speaks from, as well as, biblical histrionics, foist characters
shape shift like shamans cruising through the blood each page generates
in gentle reprimand:

“Victory accumulates throughout the night
on sweat – stained grass.
I hold Jacob in a headlock, stare

into his leopard eyes, the slits don't flinch-
we grasp and grip the bulging sinews,
naked shoulders, naked waist

wet and smooth as oil – slick. We press against
each other's flesh we both resist.
Fingers sweep the texture

of our body skin smooth as glass. Who are you
he gasps, clinging – sharp as a blade I
twist his hip, flee into the dawn.”

While reading the poems I think about Joseph Cambell's delve into myth.
Frankle demystifies the messengers by latching onto the surface reality
of the man – made intentions, taking on larger messages and then perhaps
missing the mark, using the message:

“Conflict in the open at Mohammed's
death, a Shiite in the Prophet's house
wanting to succeed him. That dream
was blown away like desert dust.

Who should succeed the Prophet.
Neither branch of Islam yields. Will we
forever bow, some with foreheads
to the ground, on opposite sides

of Mohammed's mountain. Silent
violent ambush after ambush spills our
blood. For whom, Allah?”

The book florets, pierces motivations, culture, the cut foreskin. The poems
wrestle with illusions of control – cotton threads history sews together, belies
the under current themes, starting from page one. Freddy ties a knot, making a bunch
of flowers we can smell, scent our minds, he also present us with, the politics
of religions, like stink weed repels and pricks our touch:

“Inform this morning's heavy
fall of snow;
the earth that breathes
out murder in its layers;

inform its twisted cartilage;
the pollen blown
to white indifference.

Tell them this: in that sealed chamber
our lips shrank,
shrank to utter loneliness.
Where was God!”

Readers will become acquainted with who we have become because we
were and will be:

“...Your praise
is like bone china chipped to sentiment alone.”

Clearly the poems frame educated thought, present day musing,
prophetic learning into lessons. We may partake and we maynever
implement, or so it seems to me, the poems clarity. what has become
pruned wild bushes planted on roof top gardens, Frankel weaves
dry grass, he engages pluralism, he redefines purpose:

“Lord here in this place one thousand
miles from anywhere that cares,
there is no church, no shrine
to Mary, no cross. It seems
no one forgives the last crusade.
The Caliph makes demands: step
aside, Muslims have the right of way.

I sew our robes in darkest green,
they must reach the ankles.
We wear our skull caps inside out;
our houses must be small and stand
on sand; butchers sell us only lungs
and liver wrapped ion leaves of palm,
Dhimmi meat.”

Washing away certain directions or even tiny paths that characters
forge through books, holy books, big books, small books, is a big
endeavor that Frankel takes on and takes apart in well mannered
strophes. His astute observation to form and word juxtaposition lends
to the wonder of poetry:

“...How often since eternity has such ecstasy,
silent and celestial, slowed down
the human pulse, as men and women

stand and stare from water's edge...”

Irene Koronas
Poetry Editor:
Wilderness House Literary Review

Web Site:

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