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Doug Holder

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Falling Off the Bicycle Forever by Michael Rattee
By Doug Holder   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2010

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Review by poet Tomas O'Leary

 Falling Off The Bicycle Forever”
 poems by Michael Rattee
 Adastra Press

Review by Tomas O'Leary

 Having read these poems cover to cover several times, just to be sure I
 was interpreting my own response without bias or alien input, I’m relieved to have arrived at this  moment of pronouncement with clear head and easy heart.

 The poems are in speech that is plain, but composed by an eloquent
 mind. Each plays out in casual narrative, seeming to chance upon its gem of mystery or revelation as it rolls along. The entire book is innocent of punctuation; and while I personally am committed even to the semicolon, I gotta confess   that these poems work fine without it.

 Since each of these poems is the whole poem, not lending itself to
 lifted lines for the sake of a statement about it, I offer the following run of 1st lines only to demonstrate my sense of spontaneous genesis throughout the volume: Somewhere there’s a dog; He imagines a world without excuses; It isn’t the day she wanted; He needed to get away; The man running behind the bus; His passion for the> future; Some of us live our lives. . . .

 The poems assert themselves without fanfare, but usually towards a
 dead-on finale that alerts us to remember to remember. Here’s the title poem, on whose note the book closes:

 Father was drunk and showing how
 closely he could lead Lady
 his hunting dog he jumped
 off the porch falling to his knees
 the shotgun waving wildly
 with the second shot he winged
 the dog and as she fell
 head over heels he grabbed
 a bicycle and headed headlong
 down the dirt road yelling
 he was a boy again by god
 halfway down the hill gravel
 caught the front wheel wrenching
 it sideways and throwing him
 over the handlebars in midair
 he turned back to us yelling
 and whooping flailing his arms
 falling off the bicycle forever

 Everything really quite simply is just about memory. Here’s a coda for
 the hell of it: I’d just started writing this thing when my brother Jerry called  from a hospital in Baltimore. He was in a rush, stepped off a curb, his ankle at a quirkish angle, lost his balance, flung himself forward to protect his head, and broke his hip. Damned if it didn’t feel like the casual calamity in a poem by Michael Rattee. I’ll send my brother this book; I bet we’ll both remember having read it.

 --Tomas O’Leary

Web Site: Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene

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